Iron Man and Hulk are now joined by the god of thunder! We’re also introduced to another future Avenger in a brief cameo. Let’s see how these new heroes shape up! This one is one of my personal favorites, but I promise I’ll be fair. Ish.
Overview: Thor, son of Odin, is banished from Asgard when he recklessly risks a brutal war with the Frost Giants. Stripped of his magical hammer, Mjölnir, Thor must find a way through a mysterious realm called Midgard (Earth to us humans) aided by a scientist named Jane Porter as he searches for a way to reclaim his powers.
The plot is filled with archetypes (read: cliches) that make for a pretty predictable but entertaining story. The dialogue is a fun juxtapositioning of the lofty Asgard language and the quotidian comedy of Earth, and it works pretty well, but aside from a handful of quotable moments, the script isn’t all that groundbreaking.
Kenneth Brannagh may be many things (especially in movies he’s written, produced, directed, and played the lead in all at once!) but you can’t deny he makes GORGEOUS movies.
I could do a whole piece just on this movie’s art direction. Asgard has the look and feel of an art deco clock, all gleaming brass and whirring pieces. It’s beautiful. That combined with the iconic costumes for our heroes (and villains), really elevates Asgard from a generic locale to someplace you wish you could visit and just explore (Later films will give us a better “street view” of Asgard, but this one sets the stage well).
Along with the visual style, Patrick Doyle’s score is the first to really stand out to me. It’s soaring and heroic, and it’s the first with a truly recognizable theme that gets into your head.
Kenneth Brannagh was the perfect choice to bring this world alive. He understands sweeping visuals and lush color really well. As Jane Porter says, “It’s a good look!”
The Villain: 8/10
I know there are a number of Loki fans out there who will probably skin me alive for not giving him a solid 10/10, but the truth is, Loki becomes amazing in later films. In this one, he’s still wonderfully layered, but he’s not quite as compelling as he will become once he finds his way from “bad guy” into “unpredictable sometimes-ally-kinda-maybe.” In this film, he’s mostly just the angry brother who’s jealous that he won’t get the throne. We get some great moments where he IS an ally (like during the attack on Jotuneim), but the character isn’t really given much development because the writers are still thinking that Loki is the same kind of villain as Obadiah Stane from Iron Man, the ally-turned-villain. In reality, Loki is WAY more interesting…but it will take a few more movies before they fully realize that. We do get a flash of it when he yells, “You’ll never see her again!” when Thor is destroying Bifrost. Partly, he says it because he wants to stop Thor, but there’s a hint of genuine concern in there and you realize Loki realizes he can’t stop Thor and doesn’t want him to be separated from Jane forever. It’s a good hint of just how wonderful the character will become.
He’s also pretty.
Count: Like, 5? 6?
To be honest, the definition of “explosion” may need to be expanded for this one. There’s lot of flashy stuff that makes loud noises (like when Thor and friends beam somewhere via Bifrost) and lots of rock stuff that’s shattered and whatnot, but in terms of good-old-fashioned pyrotechnic explosions, that’s limited to the attack by the Destroyer at the end and then Thor destroying Bifrost. Like, it all looks amazing, but this isn’t really an “explosion-y” movie.
Favorite explosion: definitely when Thor destroys Bifrost. That one earns the 7/10 all on its own.
The Hero’s Journey: 7/10
Thor’s story is an arc we’ve seen a lot. It’s the same as in Disney’s Hercules: if he can prove himself a true hero on Earth, his godhood will be restored. And so, he goes from being reckless and violent to more thoughtful and measured. It’s not a huge arc, nor is it a very original one, but the payoff when Thor gets his hammer and armor back is fun, so that’s where the 7/10 comes from.
Also, this film introduces Hawkeye. He’s not mentioned by name, but he’s there, guarding Mjölnir. It’s a super brief cameo, but he’ll be a major player later on, so it’s nice to see him show up here.
Score and Rank
1. Iron Man (43/50)
2. Thor (39/50) (Whoo! We’ve got a new second place!)
3. The Incredible Hulk (34/50)
4. Iron Man 2 (33/50