Flashback/Backslide author Lauren F. Fitzgerald rejoins the Marvel Blogathon with a review of 2011’s Thor. After reading her review, check out Lauren’s work on X-Men 3: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Although my original intention was to usurp this particular post as a ballad to Loki’s velvety British sneer, after rewatching Thor I feel compelled to comment on this film’s keystone status among the Marvel films leading up to the Avengers. That is to say, without the successful set up done by Thor, The Avengers would not have achieved its pinnacle position among Comic Book movies. A large part of this success can be attributed to casting and plot, something which the other Marvel films excel in as well, but perhaps the most important part of this film is the establishment of a complex, sympathetic duo of brothers destined to play the hero and the antihero.
The legend of the comic book characters Thor and Loki comes directly from Norse mythology. As we see in the movie, Thor – god of thunder and son of Odin – is a warrior hero who wields the mighty Mjolnir, while Loki – god of mischief – is a “stolen relic” from the war between the Frost Giants and the Asgardians. Although the brothers appear to have a close bond in the beginning of the film, we quickly see how Loki’s jealousy and manipulation leads the prideful and impatient Thor to a dangerous battle in the icy heart of Jotenheim. It is here Loki learns his true identity – a Frost Giant baby stolen during the war by Odin to be used to secure peace in the realms in later years. After Thor is banished, Loki is alone with his newfound fear of self, guilt over Thor’s banishment, and anger at those who lied to him. He feels abandoned and isolated from Asgardians and Frost Giants alike, and this desperation leads him to use his sorcery and silver tongue to hatch an elaborate plan “to prove to father that I am a worthy son” – worthy of the throne.
Meanwhile, Thor is hurtled to Earth and directly into the line of Natalie Portman’s bumper. The cultural clash between the Asgard and Earth provides some well-timed comic relief, with Thor happily smashing his coffee cup on the floor of a diner, and demanding a horse from the frightened pet shop worker. Stan Lee makes a welcome appearance as a truck driver who yanks the bed off his truck in an attempt to lift Thor’s hammer. The audience gets a laugh when he peeks his head out of the window after a loud crash to ask – “Did it work?” Additionally, Coulson has a larger role in this film than in Iron Man, and we learn more about S.H.I.E.L.D. For those who are really paying attention, there are some references to other Avengers (Hulk, Iron Man) as well as a special appearance by everyone’s favorite archer, Hawkeye. All these serve to keep the tone of the movie light, if a little cheesy at times. Jane’s constant doe-eyed stares at Thor’s muscled torso can be a bit much, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are probably making the same face.
In the end, we see that what makes this story so compelling is the richness of the relationship between Thor and Loki. Both characters grow and develop throughout the film in their own rights, both struggling to define themselves. When Coulson asks Thor, “Who are you?” Thor is unable to answer not only because no one will understand his wild allegations, but because he does not know the answer himself. When we see Loki secretly attempting to lift Mjolnir out of the crater, his defeated eyes show a man who was hoping to prove he was a man like Thor, one worthy to sit on the throne of Asgard, but is again faced with rejection. In the end, despite Loki’s lies and deceit, Thor’s ultimate desire is to save his brother, and we see that wisdom and self-sacrifice have taken the place of vanity and arrogance. Loki is unable to accept his role as subordinate to Thor, and chooses to give in to his anger, which serves as a wonderfully anguishing conclusion to Loki’s origin story. The movie ends with the promise of a sequel. Loki’s questionable death is soon resolved for those who know to stay until the end of the credits.
Fun Fact #1 – Tom Hiddleston originally tried out for the part of Thor, but director Kenneth Branagh saw to the hearts of screaming fangirls everywhere and cast him as Loki.
Fun Fact #2 – Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth are very good friends in real life.
Fun Fact #3 – The post-credits scene was directed by Joss Wheden to connect Thor with the Avengers.
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