“This drink… I like it! Another!”
Cast your mind to the first trailer for Thor. Audiences were skeptical. How would this fit in to the Marvel universe? Can Branagh handle a production of this size? Would this cripple the Avengers before it even got started? Iron Man 2 underwhelmed, would the same fait await Thor?
Let’s not say that Thor is a perfect first attempt but it is a damn good one. While origin films vary between the good (Spider-Man, Batman Begins) and the not so good (Fantastic Four, Elektra, Daredevil), comic book films often struggle in establishing to find their audience. Thor exudes confidence straight out the gate.
There’s no need to show how Thor got his cape or his helmet. He’s fully formed after a brief prologue about the conflict between the Asgardians and Frost Giants and the briefest of glances at Thor and Loki’s childhood – then we’re straight into Thor’s succession ceremony.
Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) flaws aren’t physical but emotional. He’s brash, arrogant, and wants to prove himself like his father Odin (Antony Hopkins) did. When Asgard comes under attack, Thor engages Beast Mode and Asgard renews hostilities with the Frost giants against Odin’s wishes. As punishment, Thor is stripped of his powers and banished to Earth to learn some humility.
It’s here where he meets Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), an astrophysicist studying electrical storms to discover inter-dimensional portals. Along with her cohorts Erik (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy (Kat Dennings), they’re sceptical of Thor and their arc of overcoming their disbelief and believing in Thor is, arguably, one that mirrors the audience. Thor becomes something much more tangible and believable despite its wholly fantastical reality through the development of these relationships.
The acting is good with special mention going to Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. As Thor Hemsworth has an arrogance that’s charming but reckless. His presence in contrast to his brother Loki, who is sinewy and more cerebral. Hiddleston’s unearths Loki’s intelligence and poise, relying on tricks rather than brawn.
Everyone else can be described as fine, whether it’s the comedic assistance provided by Thor’s fellow Asgardians Sif, Hogan, Fandrall and Volstagg (Jamie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas and Ray Stevenson respectively). Heimdall is given a great presence and voice by Idris Elba. Portman is charming and give Jane a steely determination. Dennings cutely mangles the word “Mljonir” several times and Skarsgård brings a touch of comedy to his performance. The only wasted cast member is Rene Russo who has a handful of scenes as Thor’s doting mother.
The film has a colourful, vivid look, despite the few occasions where the CGI looks rushed. For the most part Thor is presented in a beautiful manner and the sound mix is thunderous. Patrick Doyle’s scores the film with a wonderful melody that heightens the heroic nature of the story.
Thor is a success and bodes well for Marvel’s future films. The best compliment I could pay to Thor is that I’m very, very interested in seeing this character again.