After the sort-of disaster that was Iron Man 2, Marvel released their fourth film in the MCU, which followed Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of Thunder. The film is not at all a masterpiece, but it is certainly better than many give it credit for. While I don’t believe it deserves to be among true Marvel hits, it is certainly entertaining and rewatchable. Despite its many flaws, there are a few great moments that make it a worthy inclusion in the franchise.
The best part about Thor is without a doubt Asgard. It’s fun learning about the lore. You want to explore every inch, find every detail and inspect it. It helps that the scenery is ridiculously majestic, giving it another layer of beauty too. The film is also genuinely more fun in this regard than when Thor is cast down to Earth. There are extra layers of depth, development, and general interest that is given to us throughout the course of the movie. The action sequences and set pieces are better crafted, the characters are more entertaining, and there’s a more grounded story.
Like said, when Thor is cast down to Earth and becomes mortal, the story begins to falter. It’s not necessarily horrible, but the plot doesn’t feel like a superhero film is supposed to. Characters pop up all over the place, and it switches back and forth between Earth and Asgard too fast, not giving the audience a chance to let things sink in. There’s some messy writing, which makes the new characters unlikable and boring. Jane Foster, her intern Darcy, and her mentor Erik Selvig are not intriguing. There’s no reason to feel any emotion when they’re onscreen, and the love story dynamic with Thor and Jane just doesn’t work, primarily because it’s focused on too much in the plot.
The best part of the film is by far Loki (Tom Hiddleston). He basically carries an entire subplot on his own, which ends up being the most interesting one. Loki is a hard character to put in a universe like this because of his differentiating personalities. He’s the God of Mischief, and yet he still has to walk an emotional line, learning more about what he is, where he came from, and what that means for the sake of Asgard. However, that makes him a terrific villain because of his struggle for control and power in a world where he isn’t sure where he belongs. Tom Hiddleston’s performance is also captivating and enjoyable.
The other major villain, Laufey, is the exact opposite of Loki. For one, he’s not any fun. While the action sequences set in Jotunheim are some of the better ones in the film, the leader of the Frost Giants is neither compelling nor any fun. He’s too serious, and he just relies on his minions to do all the work. While the backstory behind the Frost Giants is interesting, that makes it all the more maddening when you don’t get to see any emotional context.
Thor isn’t a good film, but it’s an entertaining one. It more or less serves a purpose in setting up the MCU, and that lifts up its status in the franchise a bit. The writing is campy for the most part, but Loki’s subplot is extraordinarily emotional and intriguing. The acting is primarily good, and the world-building is without a doubt well-done.
Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander. Directed by Kenneth Branagh.