Whilst Thor may not be my favourite in its franchise (that’s to come later), after two Iron Man movies and The Incredible Hulk, it is a breath of fresh air to what feels like my stale mind, and I welcome it with open arms. When Phase One finished, it was my favourite non-Avengers Marvel movie (although I was fully aware that I was in the minority on this).
Thor Odinson (Hemsworth) is an arrogant prince, just about to be crowned the new King of Asgard, after his father, Odin (Hopkins) when they are interrupted by a breach into their city by Frost Giants. Disobeying his fathers order, Thor intends to attack back, resulting in him being banished from Asgard and put upon Earth, where is meets astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster (Portman).
A fish-out-of-water tale ensues, and this is where most of the films best comedic moments come from. At a diner, drinking a cup of coffee and declaring he likes the drink, Thor yells “Another!” before smashing the mug to the floor; this small moment is only bettered when he enters a pet store and asks for a bird “large enough to ride.”. This central plot device makes the film an easy, charming watch.
Despite this, the story is not as inventive as I’d like it to be, sharing a lot of its DNA with the first Iron Man. Both characters travel down similar roads, both arrogant until they learn their life lessons. This is a recurring theme for Marvel movies (and superhero stories in general), so I don’t necessarily fault it for this.
Hemsworth is pretty much spot-on as Thor, a cheeky, pompous performance giving way to something a bit more serious and dignified, and he straddles both perfectly. He has charisma for days, never allowing you to become frustrated with Thor’s more spoilt leanings. In fact, the only problem I find with this iteration of Thor is that they bleached his eyebrows.
The supporting cast are all fantastic too, particularly Hiddleston as Thor’s brother Loki, god of mischief and the film’s primary villain. Probably the first time Marvel had a sympathetic villain, Hiddleston manages to convey the loneliness and jealously that Loki feels as he yearns for the respect of their father. In one particular scene, as Loki questions Odin about his origins, he steals the show from Hopkins, and that is no mean feat.
It is almost Shakespearean, which makes sense given its director. It’s filled with familial issues, twists and broken hearts. Loki’s final glance towards his father is nothing short of heart breaking, himself believing that he would never receive his father’s approval, even if he did right. There are genuinely moving moments in this film, even when Thor discovers he still cannot lift Mjolnir, as he is not worthy.
It is a swift movie, with very little fat on it, coming in at just under two hours. There are, of course, some issues; Jane Foster, despite being an astrophysicist, is not a terribly interesting character, especially as she is constantly around Thor, a larger-than-life being from another planet. Kat Denning’s Darcy, Jane’s assistant, has a different issue, as she is laden with unfunny jokes about Thor’s physique and the mispronunciation of Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer).
Visually, the film is stunning. I defy anyone who says that don’t want to visit Asgard – a safe, beautiful haven for its people, it is a warm place, with gold buildings and rainbow roads. New Mexico, where Thor lands after being banished, is filmed to give it a nice warmth, as opposed to a hick town it might be portrayed as in others. And as this is a Kenneth Branagh movie, expect plenty of Dutch angles, plenty of which are on display here.
This is a fun ride, as Thor is meant to be. Light and breezy, without completely disregarding the need for emotional resonance, it is still my favourite of the Phase One Marvel movies (pre-Avengers, naturally).