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In 2011, we were given our first glimpse into the cosmic world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of Thor starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddlestone, Natalie Portman, Rene Russo and Idris Elba.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Kevin Fiege, Thor was a commercial and critical success, giving fans a brilliant page to screen adaption of one of the most popular Avengers.
The first Thor film stands very well on its own in the huge scope of the MCU, mixing action with a fun and flamboyant flair. Much of this flair comes from finally revealing Asgard to the universe, and making it as grand and bright as everyone imagined. These characters are Gods to those on Earth and this film needed to show this off compared to the other three very earth bound films that had come before.
When we see Asgard, it is colourful, grand and every bit as magnificent as you can imagine it would be in real life. Credit is due to the costumer department as well for creating this unique look, for the writers for adapting the characters speech from the comics to the screen, which is as Shakespearean as you want it to be and of course, credit to the special effects department for detailing this world for us all to enjoy on the big screen.
When we’re not in Asgard, the story falls to Earth and New Mexico to be exact. The flickering between two worlds works excellent throughout the film as you move from the grandiose world of Asgard to the more down to earth, quiet town in New Mexico where Thor finds himself. Having it set in New Mexico too followed in the footsteps of Iron Man, in moving away from the more traditional big city style background for superhero fights and to a more desert background.
The film’s plot is very character driven and focuses on Thor’s journey to becoming worthy, not only of his hammer, but of becoming ruler of Asgard. We see at the beginning of the film a battle between Asgard and the Frost Giants on Earth in 965 AD, where the Asgardians defeat the Giants and take the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.
We then cut to the present and see that Thor is ready to take the crown from his father Odin, in a huge coronation. After the coronation is halted by the invasion of the Frost Giants, long time foes of Asgard, Thor puts it upon himself to attack the Frost Giants on their home world of Jotunheim, and after this goes wrong, Odin appears to rescue them and subsequently banishes Thor to Earth, stripped off his power and forced to live as a mortal. Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, is sent with him, now with an enchantment around it that leaves its power only to those who are worthy enough to lift it.
Thor is found by Dr Jane Foster, with assistant’s Darcy Lewis and Dr Erik Selvig, who are local scientists studying wormholes. Meanwhile Thor finds his hammer under S.H.I.E.L.D control, and after battling to retrieve it, finds he cannot lift it and thus is not worthy. He is captured but later freed by Dr Selvig, and starts his life as an exile and mortal. This is a very poignant scene in the film, as it reveals just how much Thor depended on his power and status. Even though he might have taken it for granted, he’s lost everything and there’s really some fantastic acting by Chris Hemsworth here.
Back on Asgard, Loki finds out that he is actually Laufey’s, ruler of the Frost Giants, son, whom Odin adopted in the wake of a battle on Earth years before. After Odin becomes sick, Loki steps into the throne and instantly offers Laufey the chance to come to Asgard and retrieve The Casket of Ancient Winters.
The Warriors Three, Thor’s good friends are unhappy with Loki’s rule and travel to Earth to return Thor from exile. Loki becomes aware of their plan and sends The Destroyer, an Asgardian automation who seems indestructible to find them and kill Thor. When The Destroyer does find them, he defeats them, which prompts Thor to sacrifice himself, which in turn shows that he is worthy and receiving his hammer, he defeats the destroyer and returns to Asgard to confront Loki.
When they arrive, Loki has killed and betrayed Laufey, revealing his plan to use the Bifrost Bridge to destroy Jotunheim, proving himself worthy to Odin. Thor returns and defeats Loki and then destroys the bridge, trapping him on Asgard. Thor and Loki hang onto the broken bridge when Odin comes to rescue them, but Loki then rejects the help and falls into the abyss.
Thor admits to his father that he is not ready to be King just yet.
In the post credit scene, we see Dr Selvig talking with Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, about the cosmic cube which Fury has. Fury asks Selvig to study the cube who agrees and it is then revealed Selvig is being controlled by Loki.
Some of the geekier spots and easter eggs in the film include is the introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D Agent and future Avenger Clint Barton, who is watching Thor rampage through the S.H.I.E.L.D compound and instead of reaching for a gun, goes to his bow instead, revealing our first look at Hawkeye. Thor’s civilian clothes are labelled with the name ‘Dr Donald Blake M.D.’, which is Thor’s alter ego in the comics.
Our usual Stan Lee cameo, who this time is trying to lift Thor’s hammer out of the dirt with his truck, but unfortunately he fails. A holiday billboard is spotted in the town Thor lands in that reads ‘Journey into Mystery’, which was the title of the comic in which Thor first appeared. And last but not least, a tiny glimpse of the Infinity Gauntlet is spotted on Asgard.
Thor really is a personal story for the main character, and about his comfortable world being turned upside down and it being up to him to prove himself worthy of his title, something that he has not done previously. In this sense, it stands like most superhero films in that the main character needs to find his true purpose and do what is right.
It’s a formula that has worked again and again for Marvel, because it’s exactly what these characters were introduced like in the comics. Everyone can relate to the person who doesn’t fit in and then finds himself the hero, whether they be a rich billionaire, a poor patriotic soldier or even a God from another world.
This is a story about doing what’s right, no matter how much power you have or how high your status is and it’s given to us in a fun, colourful and action filled way, it’s hard not to enjoy.
Part 3 of our MCU guide discussed Iron Man 2, you can read that here: http://bit.ly/1UkzGNV
Next in our MCU guide is Captain America: The First Avenger, be sure to come back and read that piece soon.