I never thought I would see this movie get made. As a life long member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society, there are just certain characters that seem to be destined for the second tier. In the public eye, Thor was still the norse God of Thunder.
Not that Thor was second tier in the Marvel Universe. Not at all. He was one of the heavy hitters. Whenever a crisis faced the Earth, Thor was always right there, fighting along side Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk. He was a founding member of the Avengers. He was always a big deal. But he never grabbed the attention of Spiderman or the Fantastic Four. And it’s a shame because growing up, Thor was a close to Shakepeare as most of us nerds got. The stories were epic and the characters were majestic. There was love, betrayal, and war. Not to mention he is a God. Whether fighting frost giants in Asgard, or battling the Wrecking Crew on Midgard (Earth), Thor was a God.
And I am happy to say the film gets all that.
This is not the Norse myth of Thor. This is the Marvel version. Stan Lee had already created the HULK, but he wanted to go beyond that.
“How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don’t make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends… Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs. …Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor … to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn’t have time. …and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby…: -Stan Lee
So the Norse Myth got the Marvel treatment. Thor became a super hero. He was an arrogant cuss, so his father Odin (essentially the Norse Zeus) banishes him to Earth to learn humility. He is turned into the mortal Dr. Donald Blake, with no memory of who he is. When the time was right, he discovers who he is, and Thor is reborn. During his time on Earth, he grows fond of humans and decides to stay and become our protector.
The movie hits all these points, although the origin is modified to make sense. The film opens with a cocky Thor attends a ceremony in which Odin is to declare him his successor to the throne. Thor’s brother Loki, the God of Mischief, is loyal to his brother, but has always been jealous. Thor is a viking warrior, Loki is not. Thor is always in the spotlight.
During the ceremony, a group of frost giants break into Odin’s vault. Thor is consumed with wanting to get revenge, against his father’s will. He and his companions sneak out, and take the battle to the frost giants, rekindling an ancient war. When Oind finds out that Thor’s actiions have put both Asgard and the other realms ( including Earth ) in danger, he banishes Thor to Earth along with his hammer.
Now lets talk about the hammer. Mjonir. Thor and his hammer are peas in pod. The hammer is a powerful mystical weapon that only Thor can wield. He can cast thunder and lighting with it, he can throw it for miles, and it always comes back to him. He can create powerful vortexes when he spins it. And when he throws it and holds on, he flies. When Odin banishes Thor to Earth, he also sends the hammer, but this time, he puts a stipulation on it. “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”. Basically no one can use it until they prove themselves worthy of Odin. Odin’s idea is that his son must earn back his god hood.
This means, no one can lift the hammer, not even Thor, until he stops being a cocky ass. Thor arrives on Earth, knowing who he is, but a mortal.
He is found by Jane Foster and her friends. She is an astrophysicist studying atmospheric anomalies and Thor lands in her lap. The movie plays up the fish out of water angle, and Chris Helmsworth, the actor who plays Thor has fun with it. Despite being a mortal, he was a god just a few minutes ago, and he acts like such.
Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Loki starts his plan. When Odin falls into the Odinsleep ( a year long nap that he must take to keep his power) Loki takes over. Loki, it turns out, really is a bad guy. So with Thor out of the picture, and Odin out of the picture, he makes a power grab.
Meanwhile on Earth, SHEILD has found the hammer and seals the area around it off. Convinced he only needs his hammer, Thor breaks in, and finds he can’t lift his beloved weapon. Of course, no one else can either. The scientists of SHIELD are baffled.
Long story short, Loki makes his move on the humans, Thor sacrifices himself to save them, and thus is deemed worthy.
The thing is, as crazy as all this sounds…it works. The movie is really enjoyable. Funny when it needs to be, but most of the time, epic. Think Lord of the Rings, but with superheroes. The story sells itself, because it makes you care. Without being full of itself, the movie sets up the mythical story of Thor and grounds it in out world.
The great thing about reading Marvel comics, was the Universe. Everything happened in the same place, and the characters would make references to other events in other books. When you read an issue of Spiderman, you knew that a few blocks away, Daredevil was fighting some bad guys. And maybe the Fantastic Four was 5 blocks down in the Baxter Building. And thank ODIN, Marvel is doing the same thing with these movies. They have set Thor in the same universe as Iron Man, and the upcoming Captain America movie. The same SHIELD agent from the Iron Man films is in this film, as is Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, the leader of SHIELD. And for a Marvel fan, seeing this, and knowing it’s building to an Avengers film, it is more than exciting.
But the key to Thor, is that it is a film that will appeal to those who have never heard of Thor. Taken by itself, it’s a fantastic fantasy film set in the modern day. *NOTE…as I write this, Led Zepplin’s IMMIGRANT SONG just came on the radio…indeed the Gods of Asgard are there*
So go see Thor. It is worth it. It’s fun, and you won’t be disappointed. Unless you really hate movies, or fiction for that matter. In that case, rent a documentary on Norse myth.