Movie Review | Thor
Previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Tony Stark suited up as Iron Man once more to take down the deadly duo of Justin Hammer and Ivan Vanko, with a little help from his friend, Rhodey, suiting up as War Machine and SHIELD Agent Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow.
Movie summary: The powerful, but arrogant god Thor, is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. (IMDb)
Thor isn't the weakest of the 'Phase One' MCU films (hello Iron Man 2), but it is the least substantial of any of the heroes' debut efforts. In fact, I'd say every other character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who've had their own films have all had better first entries in their respective series.
That's not to say it's bad, but there's nothing that really stands out either. It's a routine, run-of-the-mill superhero movie, but at least the casting and character work is good enough to stop it from becoming a disappointment - along with the introduction of the MCU's first great villain.
Yes, this film - and the Thor movies as a whole - is almost as much about Loki as it is Thor, and the chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston is already evident here. It really does feel like they're brothers, whether fighting on the same side or against each other.
Anthony Hopkins also puts in his best performance of the series as Odin here too, with Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander and the rest of the Asgardian supporting cast all coming across well and getting the audience to accept alien space gods as existing in the MCU alongside more 'mundane' heroes like Iron Man or Captain America.
The Earth cast is where it falls down a little, with only Stellan Skarsgård and Clark Gregg really standing out. Kat Dennings is pretty much just (very attractive) comic relief, and Natalie Portman looks bored - although the relationship between her character, Jane, and Thor isn't particularly well-written.
Yes, I can buy that two attractive people might have the hots for each other after meeting each other for the first time, but the movie wants us to believe that it was instant deep love and it never feels like that - Wonder Woman did this much better with the relationship between Diana and Steve, building that attraction up over more time.
The action isn't too great either, not helped by the lower budget thanks to Marvel Studios' penny-pinching under Ike Perlmutter at the time. You can tell that director Kenneth Branagh wanted to go for an epic scale, but didn't have the money to back up the ambition.
And that really is the story of the whole film: a lot of room for potential, but never living up to it. The only thing that stops Thor from being a failure is that the casting for most of the characters was so good, much like the other MCU movies.
At the very least, this was a good benchmark for the series to start from, establishing the weirdness of Thor's world and introducing it to audiences. If there's any great success to take from this film, it's that. Well, and Loki.
It's no great secret or revelation that the MCU had a 'villain problem' until a couple of years ago, and Loki was the one saving grace, even if he did start on the same side as the hero. Tom Hiddleston is up there as one of the greatest casting decisions ever made and I think audiences find Loki so much fun because the actor is having just as much fun playing him.
Thor is possibly still the weakest solo debut film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although that doesn't mean it's a bad movie. The casting is - Natalie Portman aside - still great, but it's a pretty basic story, and the limited budget doesn't really live up to the potentially epic scope of space gods coming to Earth.