I was very excited at the end of Iron Man 2 when the credits showed a certain hammer. It took me a minute to figure who wielded the hammer. The only recollection of Thor I had was the animated film Ultimate Avengers. Other than that, I had no idea who this guy was. What a genius idea to take the Norse mythology and add the superhero element to it. I was on board since Natalie Portman was cast as Jane Foster….. need I say more. I knew Anthony Hopkins (Zorro, The Wolfman) and Idris Elba (The Office) in some small way. Stellan Skarsgard crushed it in the Pirates of the Caribbean, and the man who brought to life Gilderoy Lockhart was going to direct. I think that’s a win in my book. It turns out Kenneth Brannagh has an extensive Shakespeare acting background, which comes through in this film.
Chris Hemsworth blew me away when he had less hair and saved many lives in the 2009 film Star Trek by JJ Abrams. He brought so much depth to this Marvel character, allowing him to show rage, humor, brashness, anguish, sincerity, and charm. Thor is a mighty warrior from the realm of Asgard. In this iteration. Asgardians are considered gods to some, but to us, they are essentially aliens. The 2011 release of Thor opened up the Marvel Cinematic Universe and paved the way for the connecting films moving forward.
Hemsworth’s Thor is excited to be crowned king, but an accident proves he is far from ready. His father deems him vain and greedy, and his actions have dire consequences. He is banished and has to survive among the humans. His time on Earth provides many humorous and awkward interactions, but it also allows him to notice people beyond himself and develop stronger compassion. It changes him for the better. He learns what it is like to be in the service of others and not only of yourself.
Natalie Portman jumps from one sci-fi franchise to another as Jane Foster. I love Jane’s drive and nerdy passion for the beyond. Her love of astronomy is the fiber of her being, and she is dedicated despite constant obstacles ( one being S.H.I.E.L.D.) These guys seem to pop up more and more since Iron Man. They seem to be just as dedicated as Foster. It would make a great television series (wink wink). It is great to see Foster has friends like Erik Selvig and Darcy Lewis supporting her.
Tom Hiddleston might be the one of the greatest actors ever. Now I say that about everybody, but looking back, who would have thought that his portrayal of Loki would melt the hearts of millions of fans and would cement him as one of the best Marvel villains thus far. Hiddleston plays the brother of Thor with such ease. Loki is essentially the second fiddle to Thor. Thor is praised, and Loki, who is just as capable, stays in the shadows. He is far from useless. Through Hiddleston’s performance as Loki, you see every action is for a purpose if you watch the excellent nuances and cadences. He is the master of poker-face. He’s been forced to adapt as the person closest to him (Thor) gets all the adoration and love, and deep down, he feels this resentment and thinks he isn’t worthy. How he acts, however, is where things take a turn.
This film reminds me of Cars and The Emperor’s New Groove. The leading protagonists of these films all have immense wealth, power, and fame. They are cocky, overconfident, full of their own egos, and thrive on the praise of others. They think little of the people around them and do not consider their actions as having dire effects. A choice is made that ends up leaving them without power and stranded and alone. Despite their reluctance, they are forced to embrace their situation and forge new allies to reclaim what they lost. In doing so, what they reclaim is so much more valuable. Redemption, hope, heroism, selflessness, and sacrifice. Think about it as you watch Lightning McQueen’s, Kuzco’s, and Thor’s lives change. It’s always fun to watch stories like these—the birth of a hero.
The icing on top of the cake is seeing how Hemsworth’s career took off as well as Hiddleston’s. Kenneth Brannagh stroke gold. His commentary on the Thor DVD is worth listening to. He surpassed all expectations and proved he was up to the task of bringing the mighty Thor to the silver screen. His care for this project shows as everyone shines in this film. It’s great to see actors take on the director’s chair and excel at it, and now, all these years later, Thor is a legend.