I gotta say, I absolutely love that MCU March lined up in such a perfect way that not only do the number of weekdays match the number of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also that the Thor post is going up on Thursday. Thor’s Day? Get it?! Ah, we have fun here at Chwineka Watches… Anyway, let’s talk about my favorite film of Marvel’s Phase One.
The film begins with a summary of the war between the realms of Asgard (Norse) and Jotunheim (frost giants). In the end Odin (Mr. Anthony Hopkins) loses an eye but wins a peace with the king of the frost giants, Laufey (Colm Feore, AKA Reginald Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy). About a thousand years later, Odin’s son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is preparing to take the throne from his father. But frost giants attack before that can happen, angering Thor. Against Odin’s wishes, he takes a small team of himself, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander), and the Warriors Three (they get progressively less important with each Thor movie so I’m not going to bother naming them) into Jotunheim. Things would end poorly were it not for Odin coming to the rescue, furious at his arrogant son. He banishes Thor to Midgard (Earth) and drops Thor’s hammer Mjolnir down there as well. Believed to be a very strong but very crazy person, Thor encounters scientists Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings, now appearing in WandaVision). They too think he’s crazy, but Jane’s sweet on the hunk so she humors him when he tries to get Mjolnir back from a SHIELD facility run by Coulson. Remember him from Iron Man? With him Agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) who is marginally important in a later movie, and Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner) who does… nothing, actually. Thor fails to lift Mjolnir–proving he’s unworthy–and while he’s at his lowest, Loki shows up to tell him that Thor’s actions led to Odin’s death.
Except that’s a lie–Odin’s in an Odincoma, making Loki the defacto ruler of Asgard who just so happened to learn that he was actually Laufey’s son, stolen from Jotunheim by Odin during the war. Sif and the Warriors go against Loki’s wishes and seek out Thor with help from Heimdall (Idris Elba). They find Thor on Earth, but Loki sends an unstoppable suit of armor called the Destroyer to kill them all. Thor sacrifices himself to save others, which causes Mjolnir to find him worthy. The hammer flies to him and gives him back all his thunder god powers. The Destroyer is defeated, but Loki’s plans are still in motion. After killing Laufey, he plans to use the Rainbow Bridge–basically a teleportation device that can be used as a Death Star, apparently–to destroy Jotunheim. Thor and Odin manage to stop this, but Loki would rather fall into the void of space than accept defeat. Thor is now separated from Earth for the foreseeable future (a year, as it turns out), but he’s a changed man. God. Whatever. A post-credits scene has Nick Fury showing Dr. Selvig something called the Tesseract–we’ll get to that next time with Captain America: The First Avenger–but we see that Loki is pulling Selvig’s strings.
This movie feels almost Shakespearean at times, and that makes since because Kenneth Branagh directed it. Don’t recognize that name? He’s directed movies such as 1989’s Henry V (where he played Henry), 1993’s Much Ado About Nothing (where he played Benedick), and the masterpiece that is the 4 hour Hamlet movie (where he played… you get the point). But the highlight of the movie for me is Loki. Yes, everyone loves Tom Hiddleston enough that he’s getting his own Disney+ show (see you in June, Loki), but this is my favorite version of the character. I’m a sucker for villains who see themselves as bad guys, falling into villainy through self doubt or self hatred. Loki is tired of living in the shadow of Thor, and now he’s found out that he’s adopted and never actually had a shot at the throne? I mean, he didn’t even really want it, but it’s the principle of the matter! Loki is actually crying at the climax where he’s practically begging Thor to fight him–to punish him. So good!
…but I can’t give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. My quibbles are simple: There are so many Dutch angles (tilted camera indicating something is wrong) that the effect loses all meaning, I think Thor’s humility comes too quickly, and why bother taking the time to introduce Hawkeye only to have him do nothing? That last one reeks of “the studio made me do it,” but they’re all small dings on an otherwise amazing movie.
COMIC BOOK FUN FACT! When Mjolnir lands on Earth, the first person to find it is a townie who doesn’t get named. I bring him up because that was a cameo from J. Michael Straczynski, the writer of Thor from 2007 to 2009. A standout moment of his run is the confrontation of Thor and Iron Man. See, Thor was dead for a while (he got better because comic books are silly), and while he was gone the Civil War event happened. Yup, the same one that inspired Captain America: Civil War. One especially infamous moment during the event was when Iron Man and Hank Pym–yup, the same character from Ant-Man–made a cyborg clone of Thor. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the clone went rogue and killed Goliath, AKA Bill Foster–yup, the same character from Ant-Man and the Wasp. When Thor came back, he was… how to put this… absolutely fucking pissed. Yet another entry on the “Tony Stark’s Bad Ideas” list.
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