Superheroes these days are big business. There was a time when Superhero movies had a hard time making it at the box office, and only the rare comic book movie was a success (Superman and Batman movies were about it). Then X-Men came out and things started to change. Spider-man came soon after, followed by a reboot of the Superman and Batman individual movies. Still, it was top of the line superheroes that everyone had heard of that were being made into movies. Then came Iron Man. Iron Man turned heads not only because it was good, but because it was based on a lesser known hero and did well at the box office. Now any superhero can be turned into a movie, and if Thor is a success you’ll see more and more of them every year.
Thor (starring Chris Hemsworth in the title role) is based on the God of Norse mythology. He’s an arrogant, hammer wielding deity who thinks more with his brawn then with his brains. After being tricked by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into attacking the Frost Giants, Thor is expelled from Asgard to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Until he learns humility he will not have access to his mystic hammer that among other things allows him to control the weather. On Earth he meets Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a physicist studying strange phenomenon which includes the wormhole portal that sends Thor to Earth. As Thor tries to gain possession of his hammer once more and return home, Loki takes control of Asgard and sends a giant suit of magically controlled armor called the Destroyer to kill his brother. If Thor doesn’t learn his lesson in time, he is doomed to die by the Destroyers hands.
Kenneth Branagh surprisingly does a good job directing his first action movie. It’s no surprise that he handles the mythology aspect of the story surprisingly well, but the fight scenes and special effects are dealt with fairly nicely as well. While Thor and the humans are cast nicely, the choices of actors to play the other Norse Gods are dubious at best. We’re talking about a race of Gods that were popular to people of Germanic and Slavic descent, and yet they cast a black man (Idris Elba) in the role of Heimdall (a God described in many myths as being the whitest of beings) and an Asian man (Tadanobu Asano) in the role of Hogun the Grim. Anthony Hopkins does a nice job playing Odin, the King of the Gods, but yet his accent does quite fit. Another possible issue is that while comic book fans may geek out at seeing Thor on the big screen swinging his hammer, moviegoers who are not all that familiar with the myths or the comic book may find themselves lost at times. Simply put, Thor may not be a hero for everyone. That being said, Thor is entertaining and not only looks visually stunning at times, but also manages to make you laugh as well.
Thor will undoubtedly be the top movie of the weekend, but the big question is whether or not it will have the staying power of Iron Man. For comic book geeks it will, for regular audiences it probably will not. Regardless, it’s worth seeing at the theatre, just don’t get sucked into paying extra for 3D because it’s not worth it. Oh, and make sure to stay after the credits role to see a short scene that leads towards next summer’s The Avengers.