Alrighty, a couple of weeks since my last review should be enough of a cool down from the rapid fire. Now while I did promise a look at all 3 Iron Man movies, unfortunately for the third one to make sense, I need to do the Avengers as a whole. So here we go with Marvel's own Mighty Avenger, the God of Thunder, Thor.
Heimdall Sees Everything... Everything
Okay, so we open in the desert where astrophysicist Jane Foster (Played by Natalie Portman) and her team are watching the sky for unusual weather phenomenon which relates to her work. After a bright light opens up in the sky, they drive into a dust cloud only to end up running over someone and to wonder where he came from in what has to be at least a few dozen miles of open desert.
After this, we get the narration of Odin (Played by rightfully knighted Sir Anthony Hopkins) Who explains the history of the Asgardians and the Jotuns, two races of extraterrestrial beings who were, at a time, like gods to humanity. The struggle between the two races ending in a tenuous peace between the two as the Asgardians claimed the Jotuns' source of power, a large Blue Stone called the Casket.
Getting our first good look at Thor (Played by Chris Hemsworth) He kneels before Odin at a great celebration in preparation for his ascension of his father's throne. Meanwhile, deep in the vault, where the Casket was kept, several of the frost giants sneak in unbeknownst to anyone. However, just before Thor is named king, Odin gets wise to the Jotuns intrusion and unleashes the Destroyer, a mighty autonomous armour that incinerates the interlopers. Inspecting the damage, Thor insists they retaliate, but Odin denies him.
With some coaxing from Loki, Thor gathers his brother, Sif and the Warriors Three to march into Jotunheim. Passing the near omniscient Heimdall, guardian of the Bifrost (The rainbow path used for interplanetary travel) he lets them pass, but with the warning that he'll leave them there if their return threatens Asgard. When asked if he can just leave the Bifrost open for them, he explains that doing so would destroy which ever place it was connected to at the time.
Getting into a fight with the Jotuns, they find themselves in over their heads, Volstagg being seriously injured by the mere touch of a Jotun while Loki finds himself surprisingly unharmed by the same. Retreating, they're saved by the arrival of Odin, who, failing to smooth things over with the Jotun king Laufey, pulls them back through the Bifrost.
Exiling Thor, Odin sends him to Earth, sealing his powers within his hammer, Mjolnir, before sending it to Earth after him in the hopes that once he had learned his lesson, he could reclaim it and return to Asgard.
Catching up to the opening, we find Jane having run Thor over. After a thorough tazing by grad student Darcy, they take him to the Hospital, where he is promptly sedated.
Out in the desert, we find Mjolnir having buried itself in the ground, all efforts, including a Cameo by Stan Lee proving futile in moving it even an inch.
Jane's team analyse their data from the previous night, the activation of the Bifrost having all the hallmarks of a wormhole, connecting two points across vast distances. Coming to the conclusion she needs to ask Thor, she decides to return to the Hospital. Running into him (Literally, for a second time) they bring him back to the lab, giving him clothes that belonged to Jane's ex, one Donald Blake, M.D. Lovin' that reference.
Back on Asgard, Loki argues with the others about Thor's banishment and they begin to suspect him as the one who let the Jotuns into the vault to begin with. Heading to the Vault, Loki acts on his own suspicions, taking the Casket in hand, Odin appears. Revealing the truth to Loki, he explains that he was the runt child of Laufey, taken from the Frost Giants so as to raise him alongside Thor and foster a lasting peace between the Jotuns and Asgardians. Before he can resolve Loki's anger however, Odin's power wanes, falling into the Odinsleep.
Back on Earth, the group stop at a diner, where, overhearing about the appearance of Mjolnir, Thor goes to reclaim his wayward weapon. Parting ways, Jane returns to her lab only to find SHIELD confiscating her research. Lamenting the loss of her work, her co-worker, Eric, makes note of a colleague of his, a pioneer in Gamma Radiation who disappeared, giving some idea of the severity of the situation.
Back on Asgard, Sif and the Warriors Three go to address Odin on Thor's behalf, only to find Loki seated on the throne. When they bessech him to undo Thor's exile, he refuses, stating that he cannot undo Odin's last command, prompting them to take matters into their own hands once again.
Jane finds Thor, bringing him out to the site of Mjolnir's crash only to find that too has been overtaken by SHIELD, having transformed the area into a temporary research facility. Busting in,, Thor makes surprisingly short work of several soldiers as he makes his way towards Mjolnir. Putting a certain bow wielding individual into a sniper's perch, Coulson and his ringer watch as Thor attempts to take the hammer, only for it to remain stuck firmly to the ground.
After being interrogated by Coulson, Thor sits in SHIELD custody when Loki decides to make his presence known. Telling Thor that Odin is dead and that the truce with Jotunheim relies on his remaining in exile, he deceives his older brother before trying to take Mjolnir for himself, only to find it doesn't yield to him either.
Eric arrives, trying to convince Coulson that Thor is in fact Donald Blake and that he was simply distraught. Coulson is onto him however, but releases Thor anyway in the hopes of getting some answers by keeping an eye on them.
Loki returns to Jotunheim to speak with Laufey, revealing himself as the one who allowed the Jotuns into Asgard in the first place and now offering to conceal Laufey and his men so that they may enter Asgard again, this time to finish Odin and allow Loki's proper ascension to the throne. Returning to Asgard, Heimdall questions Loki on why he could not perceive his actions there, much like the original interlopers, leading the gatekeeper to suspect him before Loki forbids him from opening the Bifrost to anyone. Thor's friends are summoned by Heimdall who subtly allows them use of the Bifrost, sending them to Earth.
In response to these actions, Loki takes a more direct hand for a change, sending the Destroyer after them to deal with Thor once and for all. Meeting with his friends, Thor finds out that Loki lied to him.
Back in Asgard, Loki confronts Heimdall. relieving the gatekeeper of his duty, and thus nulling his oath to serve, Heimdall rightly tries to take his lying head off before being frozen in place.
When the Destroyer appears on Earth, Coulson questions if the giant armour is Stark's, only for it to start living up to its name. Despite their best efforts, the other Asgardians can't stop it, forcing Thor to confront it directly. Making one more attempt to reason with Loki through the automaton, it swats him aside, but, having proven himself a wiser man for his actions, Mjolnir reacts, flying from its spot in the desert straight to Thor and restoring his considerable powers. With the Thunderer back on form, he makes short work of the Destroyer before planning to return to Asgard.
Speaking of, back in the realm of the gods, Loki welcomes Laufey and his men to Asgard, leading them to Odin's chamber whilst the ice surrounding Heimdall begins to crack. When Thor calls, he breaks free, cutting down the Jotuns on guard and opening the path for the return of Thor.
In Odin's chamber, Laufey prepares to kill Odin only for Loki to kill him, proving his scheme to be even more devious than first supposed. After being confronted by Thor, Loki blasts him through the wall before heading to the Bifrost. Turning it towards Jotunheim, he freezes the controls in place, planning to have the open pathway destroy the Jotuns once and for all. Thor catches up with him, the two doing battle, Thor eventually coming out the victor.
However, he has no means of stopping the Bifrost except to destroy it. Breaking the connection with Mjolnir, Thor saves Jotunheim. Nearly falling from the edge of Asgard, Odin appears, grabbing Thor while he holds Loki, but after being rebuked by Odin, Loki lets go, falling into the abyss.
Despite having saved a realm, Thor finds himself melancholy, having lost his brother and any means to return to Earth. Going to see Heimdall, he asks about Jane, the gatekeeper telling him that she is still hard at work.
In an after credits scene, we see Nick Fury offering Eric a job with SHIELD. Looking into the reflective surface of a shelf nearby, we see Loki smiling back, and he agrees.
Wow there is just so so much going on in this film, the references alone, my god this is a long one.
The story is fantastic. Unlike Iron man and Hulk, we're not dealing with men who previously didn't have power, then did, then learned to use it for good. Thor always had power, he was always Asgard's golden boy and this story isn't about him becoming a hero, so much as becoming a better man. As we see the story unfurl, we begin with Thor as this arrogant, impetuous youth who thinks it only natural that he ascend the throne and crush Asgard's enemies with violence first and foremost. At the same time, we have Loki, who was originally the nerdy little brother. Thor and his friends treat him as a mischievous kid with a habit of lying more than a legitimate threat and as we go we see how both of them change. Thor realising his view of everything was wrong, that to be a good leader, a good person, he had to understand compassion and reason. Meanwhile, Loki we see become twisted. What was originally just a typical little brother complex spirals out of control as he uses his talents to manipulate everyone until he nearly genocides a people just to try and win his father's approval.
Much like Iron Man 2, the story is rather complex, but that is mostly down to Loki's plotting. While there are a number of elements involved, they don't feel out of place, the Jotuns and SHIELD interacting organically with the Asgardians and Jane's team. It's very much a story about the growth of the characters and many of these factors come together to help shape the story about how this happened.
Thor is a film with a cast of thousands. Between the Asgardians, Jane's team, SHIELD and Laufey, there's a lot to address. Covering some of the minor characters, Eric and Darcy are good characters, mostly there for comic relief and to play the voice of reason to Jane much as Sif and the Warriors Three do for Thor, since their arts are important, I still had to address them, but there isn't much I care to say as I've already went on way longer than I hoped above.
Laufey is kind of a generic villain, we don't get much of him except his cruelty towards others, his only reasonable attributes being to allow Thor's group to flee rather than fight them (Before thor blew it by punching a Jotun) and agreeing to work with Loki so he could kill Odin and restore Jotunheim. All in all, kind of a dull fellow.
Special mention for characters go to Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba for their parts as Odin and Heimdall. Both play their parts so brilliantly, Hopkins bringing this air of dignity and wisdom to Odin and despite his age, still looks and feels like he could kick your crap in if prompted. Elba on the other hand combines this brilliantly stone face Heimdall who takes his duty seriously with these subtle hints of humour and not wanting to let his duty get in the way of doing the right thing.
Thor and Loki are the beginning of a legend. Not in terms of mythology, but Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have brought such life and intrigue to these characters that their popularity has sky rocketed. Compared to their comic counterparts, Thor, whilst having his humorous moments, is distinctly more regal than Hemsworth's Medieval Frat Boy and Tom's combination of youth, charm and guile makes him a far departure from the creepy faced snake of the comics. Not to mention they actually feel like brothers. Even when they're on the same side, they screw with one another something fierce, the thing that sets Thor on his path to failure and redemption originally being just a prank by Loki before snowballing to disaster and when they're against one another, there's still this familial back and forth between them.
While I would like to keep this short, there is one character and note in particular I have to address with this, and that is Jane Foster. I know there was a lot of give off when this film first released that things like Thor's origin, of Donald Blake the doctor turning into Thor and his love interest, a nurse named Jane Foster were changed for the movie, but honestly, those comics are like 40 years old. Marvel has retconned Thor's origin in the comics themselves and when it comes to Jane Foster, I'm not bothered in the slightest that she's not a nurse. Could they have told the same story if she was? Almost certainly, just leave Eric as the Astro Physicist and have her as a starry eyed nurse he met when Thor got a needle in his butt. Though I honestly don't mind this at all and if anything it proved to be a more useful note in the sequel when you consider that Jane's research actually facilitated most of the plot there. All in all Jane still remains a strong character with a clear investment in Thor that I think is probably stronger for being a physicist and not just a nurse who met some crazy dude in A&E. My only complaint with her is the inflection on “Oh my god” when Thor returns to normal, bit too much 'I wanna hit that' as opposed to 'Everything I knew about reality just exploded'.
In terms of style, there's three major things that need mention. Asgard, Jotunheim and Earth. These are our major backdrops for the film and before I move on to address the Science and Mythology factor, I'm just gonna cover these.
First up, Asgard. Asgard is very much as Odin describes it, a shining beacon of the Nine Realms. It's all big golden towers, shining bridges and similar environments. The only darkened part of Asgard is the vault, this closed off little corner where Odin squared away the super weapons he had taken from more dangerous foes. It's where the Jotuns first invade and where Loki confronts Odin about his origin. It's the darkness of Asgard, a place for secrets and subterfuge.
Jotunheim by comparison is entirely desolate. Always shrouded in night with sheets of frozen rock as far as the eye can see, their king Laufey seems to sit on a throne inside a dark cave. Its people are blue skinned giants who seem to just emerge from the darkened rocks and wear loincloths with their weapons forged from ice. It very much gives the impression of a backwards sort of culture, the Jotuns being huge and strong, but their homes being caves, their clothing rags and their weapons crude instruments. They throw away their weakest rather than care for them and will happily use subterfuge and assassination to get their way. Very much the antithesis to Asgardians who wear shining armour and prefer to duel in honourable combat.
Finally, Earth. What we see of Earth is some town in the middle of New Mexico or something. It's out in the sticks with the locals seemingly having so little to do that a fair portion of the local populace will happily go out of their way to go try and pull a satellite out of the ground... On top of that, they don't know what a satellite looks like. Seriously, I'm not Aerospace engineer, but even say you assume that Mjolnir sticking out of the ground is part of a larger structure, what part of a satellite has a convenient leather handle and thong attached to it? Anyway, Earth here is a small town surrounded by desert. It's bright and sunny during the day and at night surrounded by stars. As its Norse name implies, Midgard is our middle ground. Not as advanced or shining as Asgard, but no where near as bad as Jotunheim, the residents of earth are small and squishy compared to Asgardians and don't seem to have as good a grip on their place in the cosmos either, which makes them a good fit for Thor when he needs to learn a lesson.
Moving on, the big thing for me in terms of the style is this whole Science vs. Magic thing the film presents and it's something I've never been happy with in the Thor movies. Asgardians have immense lifespans, insane physical power and several possess bizarre powers, such as Heimdall's near Omnisciences and Loki's ability to cast illusions and summon ice. With all this in mind, Odin is capable of stripping Thor of these seemingly natural abilities with a few words and sealing them in a hammer to be returned when he's had an epiphany. Despite this, Jane insists Magic is just Science we haven't understood yet and Thor says on Asgard these things are one and the same. So I must ask, does that make cases like Loki's 'Magic' and Heimdall's vision some form of mutations? What technology allows a man to take away built in genetic traits with words and put it in a hammer? So is the Bifrost a Wormhole, or is it made of Rainbows? If it is in fact both, how does a fold in space time and cascades of refracted light cause one end of it to explode, but now the other?
What I'm basically trying to say is that when it comes to Thor, the MCU tries to hard to explain away the more mystical elements of this world as science, presenting Asgardians and Jotuns as glorified aliens and several of their mystical abilities and items and just some twist on technology and this is a trait that only gets worse in the sequel, but that's at least three reviews away.
Over all, aside from my problems with the MCU's handling of magic/science, Thor itself is a very good movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has its failings as they all do, but for what we got out of it, namely Thor, Loki, Odin, Heimdall and more, its a wonderfully fun and engaging tale, and was probably the strongest piece of the MCU at the time of release.
So once again, I'm Hawkeye2701, in search of a Parrot big enough to ride.