“Once, mankind accepted a simple truth: that they were not alone in this universe. Some worlds man believed home to their Gods. Others they knew to fear. From around the cold and darkness came the Frost Giants, threatening to plunge the mortal world into a new ice age. But humanity would not face this threat alone. Our armies drove the Frost Giants back into the heart of their own world. The cost was great. In the end, their king fell, and the source of their power was taken from them. With the last great war ended, we withdrew from the other worlds and returned home at the Realm Eternal, Asgard. And here we remain as the beacon of hope, shining out across the stars. And though we have fallen into mans myths and legends, it was Asgard and its warriors that brought peace to the universe.”
As I write this it has been over two months since I actually saw the film, so please excuse anything which is a little vague or inaccurate.
When it comes to comics I’ve read more from Dark Horse than either Marvel or DC. However when it comes to film adaptations Marvel has the competition beat by miles, even having their own Marvel Studios division now. I love the continuity this is bringing to their films and the fact they are all taking part in a single universe now, just like the comics.
What struck me about Thor was how much of the story was set in Asgard rather than on Earth. This is not a story of the Earth’s introduction to Thor but instead it is Thor’s introduction to Earth. The film begins with Thor’s arrival on Earth so it doesn’t confuse viewers too much, but it soon flashes back to Asgard and tells the story of how he arrived here.
I do not actually know a lot about the actual legends of Thor and I know even less about the Marvel version of the character. The film tells you everything you need to know though and does so pretty clearly I thought.
Still despite a good part of the story being set on Earth it never really feels like we’re in much jeopardy. Even though Loki being on the throne of Asgard would be bad for the entire universe it never actually feels like Earth is particularly connected. Of course there is some danger when Loki sends the Destroyer to Earth to kill Thor but that wouldn’t have been a problem if Odin hadn’t banished Thor in the first place. Add to that the fact we know that S.H.I.E.L.D. have been building a superhero team in the background for sometime now. We even get a brief cameo from Hawkeye and I’m sure that if Thor wasn’t on hand then Iron Man and Captain America could have been called in pretty quickly.
Still that doesn’t really matter as that is all just a setting for Thor to find some patience and humility and prove he is worthy to be King. Of course he does this in the end.
Chris Hemsworth was last seen making a huge impact in a small role as James T. Kirk’s father. Before then I had not heard of him. Looking at IMDb it seems he has mostly done small TV work prior to that, including nearly 200 episodes of Home & Away! So he has only recently made the jump from TV to film with quite a splash. I have no complaints about his portrayal of Thor. He seems to have a good range and handles everything from the action and comedy bits down to the quieter and more intimate moments with ease.
Natalie Portman has a much longer film career behind her so I probably don’t need to explain anything about that here. Here she is playing Jane Foster, a human scientist and eventual love interest for Thor. Everything here is up to her usual standard.
The biggest name here is Anthony Hopkins as Odin. He always has a great presence and that is true here even though he spends a good part of the film in a coma. This was probably quite an easy payday for him.
The cast works well together and all is above average. The direction is good and the visual effects work is excellent. Particular note has to be made of the look or Asgard. It is brilliantly realized and looks amazing. From the massive throne room to the Rainbow Bridge it is all top quality work.
One thing that didn’t really work was the 3D. Of course the reason for this is one I’ve mentioned before. This film wasn’t filmed with 3D cameras; instead it was converted to 3D in post-production. This produces a lackluster result and I would rather see the original 2D for such a film. The problem is the theatres don’t show those as much, if at all. I’m all for 3D done correctly it is just a shame this trend doesn’t seem to be going away.
This is not the greatest of the Marvel films but it is a strong entry. Its shortcomings are overcome by what it does for the Marvel universe as a whole. Here it actually becomes a universe instead of just planet Earth. We also see S.H.E.I.L.D. coming more to the front and we start to see more things overlap between the films. All these little references are one of my favourite parts. It connects everything. Although at the end Thor did seem to ally himself with S.H.E.I.L.D. a little too eagerly.
While it may not sit on the top it’s still a key part of the Marvel mythology now. It will be required watching if you want to get the most out of The Avengers. There is fun, action and spectacular views of Asgard, a great evening’s entertainment.