Shakespeare comes to Marvel

Seriously, that man’s plays will always be relevant.

Movie: Thor
Released: April 21, 2011
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writers: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings

This movie has the mother of all daddy issues in the MCU so far, but it makes sense to the overall plot and figures into the plot for The Avengers, it gets a pass from me. Branagh admitted to being a big fan of the Thor comics which is why he signed on to direct this movie, but he looked to Shakespeare for the outline of the plot, mostly King Lear and Henry V, two plays filled with daddy issues. (Side note: King Lear also serves as a plot out line for the uber popular Fox show Empire.) It brings a theatrical element to the MCU (specifically to the scenes set in Asgard) that would only work for this movie and director and I always think theater when I think of Branagh for some reason. The over-acting brings more of the theater element, but when you are dealing with Gods, the over-acting is a requirement.

Thor takes more time to set up the characters and plot more so than Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk needed to take. For one, Marvel has built up enough good will with movie goers to take the time to set up the mythos of the Nine Realms, it’s relation to earth, and where Asgard fits in. For two, many of us might have heard of Thor (Hemsworth), but we really don’t know what the Norse myths are and how they are used to tell the comic book story. I’m willing to bet a big chunk of you in the Nerdom did not realize that Thursday came from Thor’s Day (I didn’t). Frost Giants come to conquer Earth, Odin (Hopkins) comes down to stop them and the Vikings worship them as Gods and the rest is legend. This story needed to be told as a voice over to set up the relationship Thor and Loki (Hiddleston) have with their father. You can tell he loves both, but he favors Thor over Loki despite Thor’s immaturity and war mongering nature (it makes more sense why after the big reveal that Loki is a Frost Giant and Odin took him as a threat to keep the peace).

Marvel went with a couple of unknowns for their two main men, (Hemsworth and Hiddleston were only known for small parts in other movies here in the US before Thor) but they were surrounded by some big time veterans. (Side note: When Heimdall first appeared on screen, UberApe kept jumping up and down yelling “It’s Stringer Bell!” He is a big fan of The Wire as I’m sure he will tell you all about in postings to come.) I honestly don’t have any complaints about the casting, everyone worked really well in their roles. I know there were some complaints about Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster and how she spent most of the movie mooning over Thor, but frankly everyone would be all drooly over Thor. She was not the badass female character (Jamie Alexander’s Lady Sif played that beautifully), but she was smart, plucky, and helped to explain how Thor’s world would fit into ours. Skarsgard and Dennings round out the lively scientist nicely. Dennings makes for good comedy and points out the obvious with sarcastic glee. Skarsgard is the expert on Nordic myths and knows what the hell S.H.I.E.L.D. is (due to a possible Banner connection?). Hemsworth plays the violence-hungry warrior very well, but he is able to work the comedy aspects of his role quite well and makes you like the character despite his faults. I could go all day about the greatness of Hiddleston, but I wouldn’t be saying anything that has not already been said several times before.

My only complaint is what in the hell is Odin’s sleep?!? Is it like a heart attack or a coma? Has he had one of these before? How is he an effective leader if at any point he could fall into a coma and possibly not wake up? Will someone please explain to me in the comments section?

Well, I do have a second complaint, why have Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye in the movie and not have him do anything? Have the producers ever hear of the adage don’t introduce a gun in Chapter 3 if it is not going to go off in Chapter 6? It was a waste of a cameo.

In the last post, I asked why Thor’s hammer showed up in New Mexico. To help the science takes the place of magic plot, they had to go to somewhere like New Mexico. Many scientists go there to study astronomy (clear sky and lots of meteor rocks can be found in the deserts for study). The name of the fictional city, Puente Antiguo, is Spanish for old bridge (my Spanish is really bad but I did know antiguo means old, I had to look up puente) which would explain why Thor was sent to that location on Earth for banishment.

By this point we know there is going to be an Avengers movie and we also know that it is going to come out in the summer of the next year. Thor and Captain America were essentially billed as being the set ups for the plot to The Avengers. Thor establishes S.H.I.E.L.D. as not a small government beau that looks into weird things, but a much larger branch that has big resources and can be quite terrifying when need be. Considering Samuel L. Jackson signed a 9 picture deal with Marvel, you know S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to be a big part of the mythos the MCU is creating and more info about them is needed at this point. I have no doubt that some of the artifacts seen in Odin’s trophy room will have a place in future MCU movies, so Thor and Asgard are probably in the MCU to stay. Loki is a great set up for the bad guy for The Avengers in the end credits and the blue cube is going to have to be explained in Captain America. So we know the who and kinda sorta the what. In terms of future movies, Thor also establishes the worlds outside of Earth and the possible hero and villain stories to tell.

What did you think fellow dwellers in the Nerdom? Did you enjoy Thor? Do you know what the hell Odin’s sleep is? Next up Captain America: The First Avenger.

To read UberApe’s review of Thor click here

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About Nerdling

The Nerdling has an unhealthy obsession with books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars. She finds hockey to be the best sport in the world (Go Dallas Stars!) and is working on her first novel, but mostly glowers at a blank screen. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale on Facebook @NerdlingTales or Instagram @nerdling_tales

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