Thor? No, just bruised

I enjoyed Thor, and I have no qualms recommending it, but I’m a lot less satisfied with it than most people I know (explaining why will involve spoilers, so read on at your own risk).
First, let me go over the good stuff: Asgard looks awesome, like Jack Kirby’s Silver Age designs brought to life. The acting is competent, though nobody stands out like Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (Natalie Portman is her usual charming self, though). And there’s lots of elements from the comics, including the Warriors Three (Fandral is perfect; Hogun, alas, isn’t grim enough and even smiles once), the Casket of Ancient Winters, and Odin’s ultimate weapon, the Destroyer (very cool, and a personal favorite of mine from the series). Plus Kat Dennings as the delightful Darcy, Portman’s sidekick.
The plot … here I had trouble (I’m definitely in a minority). In brief: After the Frost Giants sneak into Asgard to steal back the Casket (never named), Thor and his friends (Warriors Three, Sif and brother Loki) invade Jotunheim, massacreing Jotuns and almost starting a new Asgard-Jotunheim war. A PO’d Odin banishes Thor to Earth, stripped of his powers and Mjolnir. He befriends Jane Foster (reinvented as an astrophysicist who sees the Bifrost Bridge as some kind of wormhole) and tries to recover Mjolnir from SHIELD agents. When a distraught Odin collapses into the power-regenerating Odinsleep, Loki (having learned he’s an adopted Jotun infant)) launches an elaborate scheme to trigger a Frost Giant assassination attempt on Odin, which he thwarts, after which he’ll destroy the Jotuns completely, proving himself a virtuous son and wiping out his shameful heritage. He sends the Destroyer to wipe out Thor and his friends; putting their lives first earns Thor his powers and hammer back; he returns to Asgard and kicks Loki’s butt.
As shown on screen it seemed awfully meandering, with no real adversary. This is partly the necessity of setting up Thor’s origin, and partly setting him up for the Avengers movie next year. And part of it is the decision to make Loki more misguided and tormented than evil.
Up until the end, he doesn’t really come out and do anything evil. And while the Destroyer is Thor’s personal turning point, the climax is the attack on the Jotuns—and much as I disapprove of genocide, it’s hard to go “Oh no, the Frost Giants are doomed!” (compared to say, Loki really turning on Odin).
The Frost Giants themselves aren’t a real threat, just a distraction. And despite the emphasis on the Casket of Ancient Winters, it’s not even important enough to the plot to qualify as a McGuffin. Maybe it’s the writer in me, or maybe the comics geek (assuming that Loki has to be up to something from the start would be perfectly logical in the Marvel Universe), but it didn’t work.
Despite which, the movie is totally worth seeing. And if you want more Thor, I cannot recommend Walt Simonson’s brilliant eighties run (I’m pretty sure it’s in some TPB collection) highly enough. Next, I’d pick the Essential Thor TPBs which chart the series from the first. It takes a long while to really get going but Lee and Kirby are in their best melodramatic vein by the end of the first book.

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, Movies

One response to “Thor? No, just bruised

  1. Pingback: Thor: Hammering an undead sexist cliche « Fraser Sherman's Blog

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