“Whosoever holds this hammer [Mjolnir], if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!” – Odin
When I first saw “Thor”, I thought it was a decent comic book movie that serves its purpose of introducing the character Thor for the Avengers movie but would not have much appeal outside of comic book fans. After watching the movie again, I have a higher appreciation for the movie. There are a lot of things I really like about it. First, Thor is a god from Asgard. Accordingly, he does not have human problems as it would not make sense. I like that the movie shows how his arrogant, over the top, and godly demeanor appears completely ridiculous in the mortal world on Earth. His journey to Earth is very entertaining as there are many comical moments as he awkwardly adjusts to being a mere mortal. More importantly, it provides him with a humbling experience that helps him grow from a foolish boy to a mature man who will be able to handle the responsibilities associated with being the future king of Asgard. Chris Hemnsworth is a very good Thor. Although the character is goofy at times for comical relief, Hemnsworth has the look, build, and presence of a god. Of course, women agree with the description from another perspective as they swoon over him. During his time on Earth, there are very solid supporting characters. In particular, Natalie Portman does a fine job playing Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster. On the other hand, Tom Hiddleston does an excellent job playing the main antagonist as Thor’s jealous brother, Loki. He is the “God of Lies and Mischief”. Loki is similar to a Trojan Horse in the movie. He appears to be helpful but is really using deception to advance his agenda of gaining power. Hiddleston delivers a very good performance as it is convincing that the other characters believe his lies while the viewer knows he is up to no good. Another character I love in the movie is Odin. Anthony Hopkins does an excellent job portraying the character as Odin comes off as wise, elegant, and moral. Another aspect of the movie I really like is Asgard. The heavenly landscape and kingdom are spectacular, majestic, and fit for gods.
The movie begins with Odin telling the story of the “last great war” to his two young children, Thor and Loki. A long time ago, the Frost Giants invaded Earth. Odin led Asgard’s army into battle to defend Earth and they drove the Frost Giants back to their own world, Jutonheim. Nevertheless, the cost was significant and included Odin losing his eye. When the Frost Giants were defeated, Odin also took their Casket of Ancient Winters (the “casket”), the source of their power. In closing, Odin notes “And here [Asgard] we remain as the beacon of hope, shining out across the stars. And though we have fallen into man’s myths and legends, it was Asgard and its warriors that brought peace to the universe.” Both of his sons are inspired by the story as they stand in the armory next to the Frost Giant’s casket mentioned in the story. An enthusiastic, young Thor promises that he will “hunt down the monsters and slay them” like his father when he becomes king. However, Odin offers sage advice to his sons, “A wise king never seeks out war, but he must always be ready for it.” He also mentions that “Only one of you can ascend to the throne but both of you were born to be kings”. I think this opening sequence is fantastic as it sets up the entire movie. First, it explains the history and tensions between Asgard and the Frost Giants. It also shows Thor’s flaw as a boy as he does not understand the horror and price of war. As a result, he will rush foolishly into battle to seek glory. Next, the scene also sets up the natural rivalry between Thor and Loki as they fight for the throne. Finally, Anthony Hopkins immediately commands the screen with his presence and wisdom as Odin.
Next, the film fast forwards to the present to Thor’s ceremony to assume the throne from Odin. Thor is cocky as he walks down the aisle twirling his hammer and basking in the applause. However, his ascension to the throne is interrupted when Frost Giants infiltrate the armory attempting to steal back the casket. Nevertheless, Odin summons the Destroyer, a robot that protects the armory, to vaporize the intruders. Odin is content with the invaders paying with their lives and wants to maintain his truce with the Frost Giants. From his perspective, the attack is an act of a few and should not start a war that could cost countless lives. Nevertheless, Thor is infuriated. He wants to go to Jotunheim to get answers and teach their enemy a lesson. The difference in opinion leads to an argument between father and son ending with Odin reminding Thor that he is not yet the king. While Loki pretends to be on Thor’s side, he is actually manipulating Thor to disobey Odin and go to Jotunheim. Hiddleston does an excellent job portraying this aspect of Loki. If I did not know Loki is the God of Mischief, I would have bought that Loki was actually trying to help Thor make the right decision. Instead, I appreciate how Loki is able to use Thor’s ego and thirst for battle against him. It is a contest of brain versus brawn and Thor is easily tricked by his brother. As a result, Thor leads his warrior friends and Loki into Jotunheim. His band of friends include Sif (Jamie Alexander) and the Warriors Three: Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Josh Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). While Sif is the serious one of the group, the others are goofy but fun.
When they arrive at Jotunheim, Thor demands answers from King Laufey. While Laufey does not tell Thor much, he does note that “there were traitors in the house of Odin”. In addition, Laufey lambasts Thor: “You long for battle, you crave it! You’re nothing more than a boy trying to prove himself a man!” Although Laufey is trying to antagonize Thor, there is a lot of truth to his words. Thor is immature and wants to fight to prove himself to his father. Those characteristics are very dangerous to have for a future king. While Laufey is not amused by the hubris of the young prince, he does not want to break the truce with Odin and start a war. He declares to Thor “You don’t know what your actions would bring about… I do. Go now, while I still allow it.” While Loki convinces Thor and their friends to return to Asgard rather than escalate matters, one of Laufey’s Frost Giants mocks Thor by saying “Run back home, little princess.” Of course, Thor’s pride is his weakness and he will not allow those words to stand. Consequently, he starts a fight with Laufey’s Frost Giants. The battle is very entertaining. Thor and his friends fight very well. Nevertheless, they are outnumbered and surrounded until Odin intervenes to bring them back to Asgard. While Odin pleads with Laufey to dismiss the incident as “actions of a boy”, Thor’s attack is an act of war and Laufey ends the truce.
When the Asgardians return home, Thor and Odin vehemently argue about the incident. Thor believes that Odin should have joined him in the fight. From Thor’s perspective, the Frost Giants do not respect the Agardians and force is needed to instill fear in their adversaries. Odin vilifies Thor for being “a vain, greedy, cruel boy”. Of course, Odin is correct. While force is required at times, Thor recklessly rushes into battle and has incited a war. It clearly shows that he is not ready to be king as he puts self gratification and chasing glory through battle over the well being of his people. As such, Odin has no choice but to punish Thor and strip his son of his power and title. In a fit of rage, Odin declares “you have betrayed the express command of your king. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you’ve opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war! You are unworthy of these realms, you’re unworthy of your title, you’re unworthy… of the loved ones you have betrayed! I now take from you your power! In the name of my father and his father before, I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!” Accordingly, he exiles Thor to Earth. Moreover, he takes Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and sends it to Earth. However, he enchants the hammer so that only a worthy person can lift the hammer and wield its power. It allows Thor an opportunity to regain his power and return if he matures during his exile on Earth.
On Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is chasing celestial events with her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). Jane has a theory that Einstein-Rosen bridges, or wormholes, exist. Of course, she is correct as Asgard has the Bifrost which allows the Asgardians to travel to nine different realms in the cosmos, which include Earth and Jotunheim. Jane and her colleagues are at the Bifrost destination in New Mexico when Odin banishes Thor. As such, Jane hits Thor with her van as he is teleported to Earth. A disoriented Thor demands his hammer. Naturally, he freaks Jane’s team out and Darcy pulls out her taser. An enraged Thor responds “You dare threaten Thor with such a puny weapon”. Nevertheless, Darcy tasers and knocks him out. It is one of the funniest moments in the movie. While they initially intend to just drop him of at the hospital, they return for him when Jane realizes that Thor came through the wormhole and has the answers she seeks for her research. Naturally, Jane and Darcy ogle him as they are women. Although Jane is a serious and intelligent astrophysics, she is reduced to a giggling schoolgirl around Thor. While I enjoy Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jane, I think the movie could have done more with the character. Portman is a great actress and I feel her talents were underutilized as Jane could have been a stronger character. Nevertheless, I always enjoy her performances and I really like Jane Foster as a supporting character. She is a smart individual that takes charge of situations. Darcy is a character for comical relief. I like that Kat Dennings has her moments with the character. Another good character is Dr. Eric Selvig. He was friends with Jane’s father and serves as a father figure to her. As such, his relationship with Jane is similar to one of a rebellious daughter and protective father. It is very well done in the film.
As Thor is from another world, his behavior appears extremely strange to Jane, Darcy, and Dr. Selvig. I like how the movie does an excellent job showing how Thor would be perceived as completely ridiculous in our world. One scene that illustrates this point is when the group brings Thor to a diner and orders him a cup of coffee. As he enjoys the drink, he says “This drink… I like it! Another!” and smashes the mug. As a prince in Asgard, he gets whatever he wants and acts however he likes. On Earth, it is considered rude as he is expected to ask nicely. When Jane calls him out, he replies with “I meant no disrespect” and gracefully agrees to not smash anything else. I also like this scene as it shows that Thor simply did not know any better and is more than willing to learn to have better etiquette and act appropriately. Another scene that shows how peculiar Thor is on Earth occurs when he walks into a pet store demands “I need a horse!” The clerk responds “we don’t have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds.” Thor hysterically answers “Then give me one of those large enough to ride.” Dr. Selvig also finds Thor’s stories ridiculous as they are myths that children believe in. As a scientist, he requires proof and clear evidence. Accordingly, he dismisses the stories as tales from a man who is delusional or running a scam. However, he is concerned that Jane has taken a liking to Thor as it is against her scientific beliefs and Thor could be dangerous. He tries to protect her by advising her to stay away from Thor.
As Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, also followed him to Earth, it is discovered by people. Word spreads quickly about the hammer. A large group of people congregate around the hammer to try to lift it. It becomes an event similar to tailgating at a sporting event. Of course, no one is able to make the hammer budge. In a well placed cameo of Stan Lee, he tries to hook a chain on to the hammer to his truck and drive to pull the hammer. The attempt fails as the entire back of the truck gets ripped out. However, a S.H.I.E.L.D. task force led by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) takes notice of the hammer, clears out the crowd, and creates a makeshift base around it. In addition, S.H.I.E.L.D. confiscates all of Jane’s equipment and research as they realize that she may have information about how the hammer arrived on Earth. Naturally, she is furious that her life’s work is being taken from her and has a heated exchange with Coulson, who makes a solid appearance in the movie. Of course, her objections are fruitless as S.H.I.E.L.D. does whatever it wants. Out of anger and frustration, she decides to drive Thor to the site of the hammer in exchange for the promise that he will give her answers and retrieve her stolen items. She does it against the warnings from Dr. Selvig. As the site is fortified, Thor infiltrates the base alone. In spectacular fashion, he beats up multiple agents before getting to his hammer. However, he has not matured enough and is not yet worthy so he is unable to lift the hammer. He is completely distraught at the revelation he cannot control the hammer. Believing Odin has abandoned and given up on him completely, he allows Coulson’s agents to take him into custody. The scene is also great because it is the first appearance of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in the Avengers universe. Of course, Coulson has a lot of questions about how Thor was able to defeat his highly trained agents so easily. However, Thor does not give any answers. At the same time, Jane begs Dr. Selvig to intervene and try to free Thor. While Coulson knows Dr. Selvig is lying about Thor being a doctor, named Donald Blake, who was distraught that S.H.I.E.L.D. stole their research, he allows Thor to be released to Dr. Selvig so his agents can trail them to get more information about Thor.
Thor’s release gives him an opportunity to continue his interaction with Jane. The conversations between the two are excellent as they develop their relationship and helps explain how Thor’s story is able to coexist with the real world. When Jane asks Thor if he got to Earth via an Einstein-Rosen bridge, he responds that it is more like a “rainbow bridge” in reference to the Bifrost. Of course, Jane thinks the response is crazy. Nevertheless, Thor makes a perfect analogy that explains how his world fits into the realistic world: “Your ancestors called it magic but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same.” I also like how Thor continues to explain to her the nine realms of the cosmos, which includes Earth and Asgard. They are connected through the “world’s tree” and it is how the Bifrost functions and allows the Asgardians to travel to different realms. There is great chemistry between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemnsworth on screen. While Jane is a mere mortal, I enjoy the idea that her wit and strength is able to an equal for a god. I also like how Jane is crucial in the growth of Thor as a person. He becomes humble, respectful, and responsible because of his affection for Jane. The transformation is a sharp contrast from his juvenile personality at the beginning of the film.
Next, Jane and Dr. Selvig disagree on whether Thor’s story is plausible. The debate is also excellent in bridging Thor’s universe to the real world. Selvig gets a copy of book about Norse mythology that includes stories of Thor, Loki, Bifrost, Mjolnir, etc. As it is from the children’s section, he hopes that Jane realizes how silly the stories are. However, Jane protests as she reminds Selvig that he taught her to consider every possibility. The ensuing exchange is perfect. When Selvig clarifies that he meant “science, not magic”, Jane quotes writer Arthur C. Clarke who stated “magic’s just science we don’t understand yet”. Selvig points out that Clarke wrote science fiction. However, Jane responds that it is “a precursor to science fact” and that “if there’s an Einstein-Rosen bridge, then there’s something on the other side. And advanced beings could have crossed it”. With Darcy‘s best line in the movie, she adds “A primitive culture like the Vikings might have worshiped them as deities.” This scene and dialogue are perfect as it presents a plausible explanation for how Norse gods and mythology can fit into the real world and the rest of the Avengers universe that tries to be realistic.
During Thor’s exile, Loki is very active in Asgard. Of course, Loki has manipulated Thor the entire time and used Thor’s faults against him. There is a very good outcome from Loki’s actions as Thor is definitely not mature enough to be a king and needs to grow up first. However, Loki acts out of jealousy and not for the betterment of Asgard. During the incursion into Jotunheim, the Asgardians avoid being touched by the Frost Giants as it causes their limbs to freeze. When a Frost Giant touches Loki, he remains unhurt. As Loki is clever, he questions Odin about his origins. As such, Odin admits that Loki is Lauffey’s son and he was found abandoned in Jotunheim. While Odin concealed the truth as he loves Loki like a son and did not want the truth to hurt him, Loki is furious. Loki’s anger derives from the assumption that Odin favored Thor over Loki because Loki is actually a Frost Giant and Odin would have never allowed him to ascend to the throne. Moreover, Loki compares himself to the Jotun’s confiscated casket in the armory: “So I am no more than another stolen relic, locked up here until you might have use of me?” Nevertheless, Odin truly loves Loki even though he is an adopted son. Odin is already weary as he needs to enter the Odinsleep soon to recharge his power. The strain of the confrontation with Loki is overwhelming and Odin collapses suddenly to enter his sleep. With Thor in exile, Loki ascends to the crown.
After the revelation about Loki’s origins, he has an interesting decision to either side with his adoptive father, Odin, who lied to him or his birth father, Lauffey, who abandoned him. When Odin collapses, Loki is distraught and calls the guards in to save Odin rather than let him die. On the other hand, he also goes to Jotunheim to tell Lauffey that he is the traitor that allowed his Frost Giants entry into Asgard. In addition, Loki offers to bring Lauffey and a couple of his men to Asgard so he can kill Odin and bring the casket back to Jotunheim to restore its power. However, Loki is a trickster so it is difficult to figure out which side he is really on. This aspect of Loki definitely adds to the plot. Regardless, Loki is definitely against Thor. After Loki ascends to the throne, Sif and the Warriors Three plead for Loki to end Thor’s exile. He deceptively feigns care for Thor but constraint from the last wishes of Odin by noting “My first command cannot be to undo the Allfather’s last.” While Sif sees through Loki and wants to oppose Loki, the Warriors Three restrain her as attacking the king is suicide. Moreover, Loki travels to Earth to talk to Thor. He lies to Thor that Odin has died and that his exile is permanent as it is a condition for the truce to continue with Jotunheim. Accordingly, it is an attempt to crush Thor’s spirit so he never returns to Asgard. Ironically, Thor apologizes to Loki and thanks his brother for visiting him to tell him the truth. I like the scene because it shows that Thor is beginning to grow and mature. It also displays how manipulative, petty, and ruthless Loki truly is.
One Asgardian that sees all the events is Heimdall (Idris Elba). He is a minor character but a good one. He is the gatekeeper for the Bifrost. His sword activates the transport to other realms. He is also very powerful. His gaze is powerful as it allows him to see into other realms and observe events that occur. His power is only surpassed by the sense of duty for his king and Asgard. As such, he is bound by honor to obey his king and protect his realm. He is a character with few words but has significant presence. Earlier in the movie, he allows Thor and his friend to use the Bifrost to journey to Jotunheim because an enemy has never snuck in past his guard. Accordingly, Heimdall wants answers as well. Later, he becomes suspicious of Loki. During Loki’s return trip to Jotunheim as king of Asgard to talk to Lauffey, he is able to disrupt Heimdall’s gaze. As a result, Heimdall is blind to the conversation but realizes that Loki is behind the scheme with the Jotun. However, Loki is now king. As Heimdall’s duty to his king is unconditional, he can not oppose Loki. Nevertheless, it does not stop him from bending the rules. He requests the presence of Sif and the Warriors Three after he uses his powers to overhear their conversation to defy Loki. When they arrive, Heimdall asks “You would defy the commands of Loki, our king? Break every oath you have taken as warriors, and commit treason to bring Thor back?” After Sif answers yes, Heimdall responds with “Good”. Nevertheless, Heimdall knows he is bound to the king and cannot open the bridge himself. Instead, he leaves the sword in the bridge and turns a blind eye to them as they journey to Earth. Of course, Loki sees the use of the Bifrost and is furious that Heimdall defied his order to not allow anyone to use it. Accordingly, he brands Heimdall a traitor, relieves him of his duty as gatekeeper, and takes away his citizenship to Asgard. Although Heimdall moves to strike Loki with his sword as he is no longer bound to serve him, Loki uses the power of the casket to freeze Heimdall. Moreover, he sends the Destroyer done to Earth to kill Thor.
When Thor’s friends walk into town to find Thor, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents notices the warriors and reports them. In a comical description of the four, they note “Yeah. Uh, base, we’ve got, uh, Xena, Jackie Chan, and Robin Hood.” When they find Thor; Janes, Selvig, and Darcy are shocked as it is either proof that Thor is telling the truth or he has some very eccentric friends that are also delusional. Of course, it does not take them much longer to get hard evidence as the Destroyer arrives shortly afterwards. When it arrives, it is surrounded by Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. While they have initial thoughts that it is one of Tony Stark’s new designs, they quickly realize it is not as the Destroyer incinerates all their vehicles and starts to rampage through the town. Without the power of Mjolnir, Thor sits out the fight at first and focuses on evacuating the townspeople while Sif and the Warriors Three valiantly fight the Destroyer. However, they are no match for it. As such, an unarmed Thor bravely confronts the Destroyer and pleads for Loki to stop his attack and the killing of innocent people to get to Thor. While there is a short moment that it appears Loki hears the words and recalls the Destroyer, he eventually has it punch and mortally wound Thor. Nevertheless, the selfless acts completes Thor’s growth and he is worthy of the power of Mjolnir again. Accordingly, the hammer flies to Thor and restores his power. As he transforms, Jane is completely stunned with the reaction “Oh… my… god.” If she was unconvinced before, the scene is irrefutable proof that Thor’s stories about other worlds, Bifrost, and Asgard are true. It is an excellent moment as the scientific skeptics finally become true believers. With his powers restored, Thor easily defeats the Destroyer.
Next, Thor returns to Asgard to stop Loki’s schemes. On Asgard, Loki grants Lauffey entry into Asgard to kill Odin in his sleep. However, Loki deceives Lauffey. His true plan is to get credit for saving Odin from Lauffey and to unleash the full power of the Bifrost on Jotunheim to destroy the realm. At the end, Loki reveals that he loves Asgard and Odin. As such, he wants to kill all the Frost Giants to prove it to Odin. A changed Thor knows that genocide is wrong. While he sought war with the Frost Giants at the beginning of the world, he fights Loki to save them. The fight between the two is good but not spectacular. Eventually, Thor is forced to break the bridge to save the Frost Giants. While it cuts him off from Jane, he knows he needs to do the moral thing instead of what benefits him. I like how the decision shows he has completely changed from a foolish boy that sought battle to prove himself to a selfless, moral man that is worthy of becoming king. At the end of the battle, Thor and Loki are both falling off the bridge. However, an awakened Odin is able to grab Thor while Loki holds on to Thor. While Loki proclaims that he did everything for Odin, the disappointment in Odin’s eyes devastates Loki. Accordingly, he releases his hold on Thor and falls into the void of the cosmos. As we later learn, Loki’s journey brings him to Thanos who gives him the power and the Chatiuri army to be the main villain in the Avengers.
The end of the movie is bittersweet for Thor. While he redeems himself, he loses his brother and Jane. There are a couple of excellent scenes I really enjoy. The first is a final conversation between Thor and Odin. As Odin is proud of his son’s maturity and character, he is finally able to praise his son and say that “You’ll be a wise king.” Although Thor is much wiser now, he realizes he is still not ready to ascend to the throne: “There will never be a wiser king than you [Odin]. Or a better father. I have much to learn. I know that now.” It is a great moment that summarizes the growth and change in Thor during the movie. Another great scene is between Thor and Heimdall. When Thor asks if Earth is lost, Heimdall responds that “There is always hope”. Of course, we know that that Thor will return to Earth in the Avengers and will also go back in the upcoming “Thor: The Dark World”. In addition, Heimdall is able to see Jane with his powers. Accordingly, he tells Thor that she is searching for him. Again, I think Thor is very difficult movie to direct as it requires a take on gods and mythology that fits into the real world. Nevertheless, it is an excellent comic book movie as it portrays the development of Thor from a foolish, arrogant boy to a wiser, humble young man. It also has a solid antagonist and a good group of supporting characters that make the movie fun. It is a solid addition to the Marvel Universe that serves its role in introducing Thor’s universe for the Avengers movie.