Thor hammers home Marvel movie excitement
It only took about 10 minutes into Thor, the latest Marvel Comics book turned into a feature film, for a wide smile to form across my face at the realization that ‘oh, man they got it right!’ Another 30 minutes in, I was thoroughly convinced that Marvel has a brand new summer movie franchise. By the time the credits were over, I was already awaiting the sequel.
In the wrong hands that don’t get the source material, i.e. dumbing it down for the audience, Thor could have been a catastrophe and a ‘how-to’ on the ways to not make a superhero movie. With the proper guidance, however, you’ve got the superhero version of The Lord of the Rings — minus Frodo.
Enter Oscar-nominated director Kenneth Branagh, who has honed his craft directing and acting Shakespeare’s Henry V and Hamlet and could handle the task of delivering a fun, summer blockbuster with the necessary amount of drama to make Thor as viable a character as Spider-Man and Iron Man before him.
It helps to have a cast with Oscar-winning actors Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman and on-the-rise actors in Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) and Tom Hiddleston, each ready to achieve super stardom with breakout performances.
Hiddleston nearly steals the film en route to becoming the definitive villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hemsworth isn’t just the chiseled muscle as he has more than enough charisma to hold his own with his established co-stars Portman and Hopkins.
Rather than a long, tedious origin setup before getting to the fun, comic-book action, Branagh’s opening act features a massive battle between the Frost Giants and the Asgardians, led by their ruler, Odin (Hopkins).
Odin retells the tale to his sons, Thor (Hemsworth) and Loki (Hiddleston), who long for the chance to prove to their father that they are worth successors to the throne.
Branagh shows the full power of Thor, who topples one giant after another with the aid of his invincible hammer, Mjolnir, and brashly taunts his foes for a real challenge.
Starting off with a big battle and Thor showing off his powers complete with twirling hammer was the best way to make audiences realize Thor wasn’t a chump who loathed having superpowers, but a character who reveled in it.
Screenwriters Ashley Miller, Zack Stenz and Don Payne take an unusual approach making Thor cockier and more arrogant than the normal hero, but it’s in line with the comic and works well as the fallen god has to learn how to adjust to life as a powerless mortal. This approach helps the audience get invested in Thor’s efforts to regain his powers and make him more relatable.
The film also benefits from a fun supporting cast including Kat Dennings as the zany Darcy, Stellan Skarsgård as researcher Erik Selvig and Clark Gregg as Shield Agent Coulson. They’re a big part of the fun here and Jeremy Renner’s quickie cameo as Hawkeye only further whets the appetite for the Avengers to fully assemble.
Just like the two Iron Man films and The Incredible Hulk, Thor continues setting the stage for next year’s heavily anticipated The Avengers, which might be the biggest summer blockbuster ever considering how great the setup for it has been.
Thor strikes a mighty blow to the summer blockbuster season and will charge up audiences just like the first Iron Man. This was the real test for The Avengers and it proved to be a massive hit grossing nearly $450 million worldwide. Yep, these Avengers films just may have some legs to them yet.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/Marvel Studios