Thor (2011)—A Un-Marvelous Origin Story
After their success with Iron Man (2008), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and a slight bomb with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Marvel made their final Phase I origin story with 2011’s Thor. Starring at the time relatively unknown actors, fans and audiences were not sure how a live action Thor movie would go. It was…kind of a mixed bag to say the least.
The film opens up with Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) telling his children, Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) and his brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), a story about the war between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. After a 100 year long war, the Frost Giants were defeated and Odin took the source of the power: The Casket of Ancient Winters. Odin then ends the story by saying that one of the 2 brothers will be King of Asgard. Fast forward several years, and Thor is celebrating his coronation.
However, his special day is interrupted by Frost Giants who snuck into Odin’s weapons vault and attempted to steal the Casket of Ancient Winters. Odin activates The Destroyer and vaporizes the intruders. Although Odin sees no need to take further action against the Frost Giants, Thor and his friends travel to Jotunheim, land of the Frost Giants and confront their leader, King Laufey (played by Colm Feore). Laufey warns Thor of treachery among his own family, eventually angering him into attacking the Frost Giants. The Asgardians are almost overwhelmed, until Odin arrives and retrieves Thor and his friends. Angered by Thor’s brash actions, Odin strips him of his power and banishes him to Earth.
When the film was released, fans were concerned about Marvel casting then unknown actors as the lead roles in Thor (2011). After the release of the film, however, both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston became fan favorites. Despite the set of Asgard being mostly and obviously CGI, it was actually beautiful to look at and made me believe that it was a mix of Norse and alien culture. My favorite set piece was probably the Bifrost rainbow bridge that the Asgardians use to travel to other realms. It looks so gorgeous and magical, yet still comes off as technology rather than pure magic. Story wise, the first act has to be the film’s strongest act. I liked the Shakespearean-esque dialogue and family drama. Loki’s jealousy of Thor is understandable and his reasons for wanting to take the throne are clear. In my, and likely many others’ opinions, Loki stole the entire film even though it’s Thor’s movie.
While the first act was pretty good, the second act has to be the film’s weakest part. When Thor was sent to Earth, the plot begins to slow down. I understand the reasons why Thor was sent to Earth, but I still find it unbelievable that he learned his lesson of self-sacrifice in just three or so days. Additionally, I found the romance between Thor and Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster kind of forced. The two went from complete strangers to lovers in just a few days. Speaking of Jane, Marvel has a tendency to waste their more famous actors. Natalie Portman wasn’t given a lot to work with, only acting as a love interest for Thor. At the same time, Idris Elba’s Heimdall was given very little screen time, only a few minutes at most. This was a shame, since I really liked Heimdall’s character when I first saw him. While he was featured more in the sequels, there could’ve been more done with him.
Despite the lukewarm reception that Thor (2011) got, it made $449.3 million at the box office on a $150 million budget, warranting a sequel to be made. Natalie Portman initially did not want to return, however, she was forced to by contract. Afterwards, Portman wanted a break from Marvel. The sequel garnered mixed to negative reviews from critics and fans. Marvel was in hot water with the character of Thor, and decided to revamp the character completely, making him a more humorous character. This resonated better with audiences and made Thor as popular as the other two major Avengers.
All-in-all, I didn’t think 2011’s Thor was a bad movie, just very standard as origin stories go. I liked the visuals, but in this case, the story was lacking. I also didn’t remember any of the side characters save for Loki and Heimdall. Hell, they’re so forgettable that they even replaced one of them in the sequel and no one even noticed until much later. Seeing how far Thor has come from a Shakespearean family drama to a funny, but badass God of Thunder, all I can say is that Marvel has finally understood how to make Thor a more electrifying character. Pun intended.