Forsooth! A Thor Movie Review!

[[image:thor-vs-destroyer.jpg:Drawn by Hisham:center:0]]

A Thor movie. Can you believe it? Produced by Marvel themselves instead of licensing it out to another studio? Directed by Kenneth Branagh? I wish I could go back in time to tell 13-year-old, comic book fan Hisham how awesome the future will be in the movies. He would go nuts. In a good way.

Mostly.

So how does one adapt the tale of super-powerful Asgardians into a movie continuity that will also include Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man? It appears the answer to that is, “to totally embrace them as interdimensional space beings using supertechnology so advanced it appears as magic to humans”. And boy does it totally embrace that fact, and its Silver Age Comics origins – with some Ultimate Marvel elements. Make no mistake, this is not a primer to Norse mythology. This is a story where superheroes are kicking ass and taking names.

VERILY, THERE BE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT! A WARNING!

The movie begins in media res where astrophysicist Jane Foster has formulated a way to predict appearances of what appear to be Einstein-Rosen bridges over the deserts of New Mexico. Suddenly one appears nearby and an bright energy beam lances down from it. As they drive toward the beam’s location on the desert, they accidentally hit a delirious man wandering in the night. He claims to be Thor.

Is he? Isn’t he?

There really isn’t any mystery. Of course he’s Thor. We are immediately taken to a flashback where Frost Giants of Jotunheim are at war with warriors from Asgard led by their king Odin. The Asgard warriors are victorious, an uneasy truce is formed and Odin takes the source of the Jotuns’ power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.

Thus begins the story of the origin of Thor as a superhero in the Marvel movie universe. Prideful and belligerent, he is skillfully tricked by his brother Loki into attacking Jotunheim again against Odin’s wishes and for that he is stripped of his power and his hammer Mjolnir; and is banished to Midgard, also known as Earth… where he gets hit by a car.

Does he gain some humility? Will he ever regain his powers again? Will he find Mjolnir? What of Loki’s plot? How does SHIELD from the previous two Iron Man and one Incredible Hulk movies come into the story? If you’ve watched it, then you know the answers. If not, then go watch it.

Some Observations (Real Spoilery Spoilers)

  • This is easily the most Kirbyesque superhero movie to date. Asgard looks fantastic. I don’t think it’s possible to produce the movie in this manner 10 years ago.
  • Branagh employs every character effectively. No one is left out. Heimdall, Sif, Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg, although not fully fleshed out, are surprisingly given a lot to do between them.
  • Heimdall, played by Idris Elba, is a raw force of nature in this movie. His spoken lines are weapon blows in their own right.
  • The Bifrost, the rainbow bridge that links Asgard to the rest of the Nine Worlds and not just to Midgard, is a perfect example of a Kirbyesque design – how it works, how the mechanism moves under the structure. I was half-expecting Kirby Crackles to show up. And how do people fly through the Bifrost beam to land feet-first on the ground? Who cares! Because comics!
  • Although the Infinity Gauntlet prop was shown off during San Diego Comic Con 2010, I didn’t see it here. It must have been in the Asgard weapons vault. The only item I recognize in the vault is Eye of Agamotto which would later go to Doctor Strange.
  • Right in front of Jane Foster’s lab, across the street, is a travel billboard with the words “Journey Into Mystery”, which is the title of the comic book where Thor made his debut. 
  • The Destroyer – seen above in the artwork above – the heavy hitter that Thor do battle with on Earth, is a weapon by itself – an enchanted suit of armour. It’s a shame that its battle with the powered up Thor was relatively short.
  • Erik Selvig, Jane’s mentor, mentions that he knew a scientist who was an expert in gamma radiation who disappeared after SHIELD got to him. Missing scientist? Gamma radiation? Hmm… I wonder who fits the bill here.
  • SHIELD! Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg from both Iron Man movies leads the New Mexico detachment to investigate the Mjolnir events. Which is how, I guess, Thor is linked later to the Avengers.
  • The cameo by a marksman named Barton made me go squee with joy.
  • No Mangog. Hisham sad.
  • Finally, Tom Hiddleston as Loki makes a performance you have to see to believe. A silver tongued devil from the get go, Loki keeps conjuring more and more lies to achieve his endgame, but without foresight and wisdom that doom his plan to failure in the first place. When he lets loose his anger and screams his reason why, he is even half-sympathetic. I hope he is provided a good script and storyline, and a spot in the limelight in the Avengers next year.

Again, the movie does not pretend to be true to Norse mythology. It’s pure Marvel superheroics in cinematic form. Although Thor is nerfed for most of the movie, when he does wield Mjolnir against the Jotuns and the Destroyer later, we see how powerful it really is. I can’t wait to see how Thor work alongside Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America for the Avengers movie directed by Joss Whedon!

Thor is not absurdly fantastic motion picture, but as an origin tale to Thor as a superhero on Earth – integrating a lot of the corny comic elements effectively – it is splendid. Two more months before Captain America: The First Avenger.

Also, click here to see a larger version of the Thor vs. the Destroyer artwork on DeviantArt.

Posted in Artwork, Comics, Movie Review and tagged , , .

Khairul Hisham J. is a tabletop RPG artist, writer, proofreader, translator, teacher, grad student and learner-in-general.

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