Okay, look–I know the answer to that question. You haven’t seen Thor because you know there are two kinds of Marvel superhero movies:
1) The Iron Man Type – Funny, fun, and with a good smattering of action, these movies are clearly done by people who wanted to make an awesome movie about their favorite superhero for all of his/her fans. The second (and first, despite some… aesthetic issues) Spider-Man movie, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and (although maybe it didn’t hold up?) the first Blade are this type of Marvel movie. I suppose you could argue that the second X-Men movie also fits the bill, but I’d ignore you.
2) The Daredevil Type – For the love of God, why are there so many of these? I don’t even need to explain because you know exactly what I’m talking about: Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, X-Men, probably X-Men II, X-Men III: Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four II: This Should’ve Just Been About the Silver Surfer (or whatever it was called), Punisher: War Zone, Hulk or The Incredible Hulk (failure, finally working to your preference), the rest of the Blade trilogy. Spider-Man 3. All terrible, terrible mistakes. Attempts at more money with plots written to include the most salable characters because the molds for their action figures were already finished.
With such a complete imbalance between the good times and the bad we’ve gotten from Marvel Studios, why would you, why would any of us, actually decide to give a movie about Marvel’s take on the Norse god of thunder the time of day?
If you’re anything like me, you’d say it was your duty; maybe not professionally, but to comics in general, which is admirable even though it’s the same reason why I went to see Jonah Hex. <shudder> In the end, that desire (maybe I should just call it “the Hex”) to support comics led me to the Ziegfeld two Saturdays ago where I was was completely surprised.
It’s Surprisingly Believable
I told my friends that I felt Thor was the movie that would either make or break The Avengers. They were surprised by the idea, but I explained quickly that it wasn’t a matter of Thor needing to look powerful enough or be cool enough; Thor needed to be believable enough or every time he walked on the screen the audience would want to laugh. As viewers, and even as comic readers, we can jump on-board for a hero’s or villain’s origin and totally believe it because of science. Even if it’s completely ridiculous and we know it, we still barely need to be pushed to believe that, say, Tony Stark would survive not only with but because of a huge, super battery lodged into his chest. Or that a bite from a genetically altered spider would grant a school kid from Queens spider powers. A writer slips in a word like “genetics” or “tachyon” and we shrug, think, “Sure! Whaaatever!” and keep reading. But somehow–probably because of religious beliefs–the line often gets very seriously drawn at mystics and god characters. In an Iron Man comic, someone says, “Let’s call Dr. Strange, master of the mystic arts!” and 8 out of 10 readers smack their foreheads in dismay. That is, honestly, exactly what I thought I would do the very first time Thor said “thee”.
But that’s just it–Thor never says “thee”. Or “thou”. Not even (and thank God) a “verily”. Marvel was very, very careful to not make Thor sound like a complete idiot. In fact, they somehow turned it around so that he wasn’t even a bumbling moron when he gets to earth; he’s more an intelligent tourist who makes tourist mistakes that are extremely funny. Tourist mistakes that are also completely understandable after a full hour or so spent watching Thor in Asgard.
But what makes all of it even more believable is the marriage of science and magic, proposed in the trailer and fully executed when we see Asgard. The whole look of the place is (aside from honestly being one of the best executions of a fantasy concept on film) a weird hybrid of sorcery and science. Perhaps that’s being a bit generous though because no one ever jumps on screen and shouts, “And now, MAGIC!” Instead, we see a bit of technology meshed with scenery that very cleverly fails to lean too far in one direction; sure, magical things happen, but they’re often the cause of a huge machine. Or magic that is completely not dressed up with the typical tropes (wizard staff; some grand, completely terrible, rhyming incantation). Even everyone’s armor looks surpringly… modern. Possibly even technological. All in all, the result is a very different fantasy experience that manages to be oddly genuine.
There’s Nothing “Low Key” About Tom Hiddleston’s Performance
Okay. Hands down… Seriously, hands down… I don’t think you can find a better performance for a Marvel villain than Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. I really don’t. And do you know why? Because everyone I’ve spoken to who saw it said, “I’m not sure Loki was devious enough,” to which I replied, “Exactly.”
Not going into too much detail, he’s Loki, the God of Mischief. And not only does Tom Hiddleston look like Loki, he speaks like Loki. He sounds like Loki. He moves like Loki. He acts like Loki. The fact that so many people thought he wasn’t devious enough says one thing and one thing only:
You Will Not Find More Appropriately Hot Comic Book Female Roles in Any Other Comic Book Movie
Oh my God. Natalie Portman as Jane Foster! Wow! She’s actually… attractive. Like, as attractive as comic artists have made Jane Foster. Are we sure this is for real? Are we sure they didn’t actually cast Sarah Jessica Parker, or someone else that the media seems to think is actually attractive but isn’t?
Seriously, I’m sorry, but casting for female roles in comic movies has only met with failure before. Kirsten Dunst is not a super model / actress–not the way comic book Mary Jane Watson was anyway. Gwyneth Paltrow did a great job as Pepper Potts, but outside of having red hair, she didn’t do comic book Petter Potts justice in terms of looks. And seriously, let’s not even get started on Katie Holmes.
The casting director for Thor seemed to realize this and completely turn the problem around. By casting Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. And Jaimie Alexander as Siff! And… Oh my God…
Bah! I’m sorry! I kind of… lost track there. What was I saying?… Oh yeah. The women casted for Thor are extremely attractive. And on the flip side, ladies, seriously, you owe it to yourselves to see Chris Hemsworth’s performance as Topless Thor. Perhaps you’ve said to yourself before, “I just don’t think superheroes are hot,” and that’s fine if you did. But Chris Hemsworth will change your minds so hard that after the end credits, you’ll be IMDBing the release date for The Avengers. On your smart phones. In your seat. In the theater.
All jokes aside, Thor is a surprisingly fun, entertaining comic book movie. I’m not sure if it’s going to be the best one this year because, really, it has it’s flaws. Artist Blair Kamage admitted to having a problem with the pacing of Thor’s romance with Jane Foster; “It just happened too fast! It was just lust!” Writer Daniel Ho wanted Thor to dish out more old English. I, honestly, was bothered by the fact that Thor never shouted “For Asgard!” and my brother (and about 80% of the internet) was annoyed that Thor didn’t wear his helmet for more than 5 minutes. Still, Thor will entertain you way more than you’re expecting it to, and, even if Captain America bombs, you’ll still be excited for The Avengers in 2012. At least, I know I totally am!
5 thoughts on “Why the Hell Haven’t You Seen “Thor” Yet?”
As an older fan of the best of the Thor comics, I was thrilled by the whole look of Asgard and Asgardians; the “futuristic” look was a pure homage of Jack Kirby, and they played it wonderfully straight.
Ah! It makes sense that that genius was all Jack Kirby; it blows my mind that making Asgard futuristic is still an incredibly radical and modern concept. That’s it–I’m branching out of classic Spider-Man.
I think, too, that giving them the futuristic look helped distance Asgard from its mythological roots–and therefore from potentially sticky theological questions and the inherent dissonance of fantasy elements in a largely science-fiction setting (Iron Man, Hulk, X-Men, etc). When doing the world-building for WtC I steered way around it.
Yeah, I think it’s almost always a really good idea to steer away from all of those questions. Honestly, I even stay away from magic; there definitely is some in my book, but only enough to give my characters interesting items that work/feel kind of like modern tech and don’t look completely ridiculous.
I love your insights and agree wholeheartedly.
Asgard: It looked fantastic. It’s the first thing I tell people about the movie. It was gorgeous and it’s the first reason you can believe science is magic in Asgard: because everything looks like the right marriage of the utopian view of a future society based on science and the serene kingdoms of fantasy lore. From the Palace to the Bridge–esp the bridge–you believe Asgard can exist.
Loki: Oh my god was he great. I actually sympathized with him. I waited for a completely typical supervillain monologue about whatever and he proved me wrong in this movie. When he finds out that thing that really bothered him about his life (trying not to spoil here) I felt for him, because he seemed right. And even when he had the ability to do the usual comicbook superhero thing and take advantage of who he was talking to, he didn’t. He actually cared about him. But as a god of mischief–and as the trickster of Norse folklore–he acts as a real trickster: he says the right comments at the right time to twist things to his advantage. Even Stane in Ironman seemed to break out of his smart business man character at the end of the movie, when he uncharacteristically turns into an insane and typical supervillain at the end.
The Hotties: The women had an occasionally shirtless Chris Hemsworth for most of the movie. They have enough. We get to have my all-time love, Natalie Portman, we get a believably badass Sif, and we get Kat Dennings as Darcy… and whoever Darcy is, I didn’t care, because she was cute and nerdy and funny for the entire movie (and made me love Portman less because, well, Kat Dennings is Kat Dennings, dammit).
Great post as always, Santiago.