THE ROAD TO ‘INFINITY WAR’ – ‘Thor’ (2011)

Thor's debut film is a fun yet smaller installment in the MCU!

Review by J.T. Johnson

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: April 17, 2011
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Haris Zambarloukos
WRITERS: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne
MUSIC: Patrick Doyle

As a young comic book reader, I was never a fan of the Thor comic books. I always thought that Thor looked pretty lame and I didn’t like the attempt at making the characters speak in Old English. It just wasn’t for me, so I was pretty nervous when Marvel announced a Thor movie as part of their new Marvel Cinematic Universe and really thought it would be the film that I hated.

When “Thor” was released in 2011, though, something else happened. I genuinely had a good time watching the movie and it was there that the movies transformed me into a fan of Marvel’s God of Thunder. The key to the success of this film is in its simplicity at introducing us to the cosmic side of the MCU.

Thor, played effortlessly by Chris Hemsworth, is a vain and cruel boy (his father’s words, not mine). After almost starting a war with the Frost Giants, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) strips Thor of his powers and banishes him to Earth, sending Thor’s famous hammer Mjolnir along with him. Should Thor become worthy again, he will be able to retrieve his hammer and powers once more.

On Earth, Thor encounters a scientist named Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), along with her colleagues Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). With Thor banished to Earth, his duplicitous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) schemes to take over Asgard and destroy his brother once and for all.

The small New Mexico town where Thor is banished is the perfect sandbox, so to speak, where Thor can learn more about serving others instead of just himself. Hemsworth is great and sometimes quite humorous as Thor. He also has a great connection with Portman’s Jane Foster. The only problem with the middle of the film is that it can be quite slow and not much happens in this otherwise epic superhero film.

The first act containing a sequence where Thor faces off with the Frost Giants and the third act where the Destroyer is used to find Thor on Earth are the best elements to this film. In addition to the action scenes, it also helps that this is one of the few MCU films that actually establishes a solid villain. The movie’s secret weapon is Hiddleston and a screenplay that actually gives Loki a pretty full story.

The problem with most villains in the MCU is that they end up being little more than the main obstacle for whichever superhero the films are focused on. Here, Loki has a far more personal connection to his brother Thor and that makes him a much more lethal threat and more interesting to watch. Hiddleston’s performance also makes Loki a little more sympathetic than past villains but we never forget that Loki is the big bad of the film.

“Thor” is often a somewhat forgotten film in the MCU. It may be a smaller movie when compared to other MCU entries, but this doesn’t mean that it skimps on the fun either. It’s not perfect with a middle act that can drag out, but the movie successfully introduced us to the God of Thunder and one of the best villains that has ever been featured in the MCU!

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