What’s the Story?
A hot female researcher and co find a buff hobo in the middle of a cyclone who acts like he’s just stumbled out of the middle ages. Says he’s Thor, son of Odin, from the realm of Valhalla, banished to earth for disobeying his father’s wishes.
What’s the Problem?
Actually, there isn’t nearly as much wrong with Thor as you’d think there would be because the filmmakers were clearly aware at how silly the source material is. And it is: that Asgard isn’t a Norse myth but is instead a planet made of gold where everyone is a superhero for reasons no one bothers to explain. Also, they battle Frost Giants.
Here is the main problem with Thor: it’s what the characters look like.
Let’s be honest. These costumes might have worked on a comic book in 1962, but they don’t work on today’s big screen. Marvel clearly spotted this, though, and did their best to revamp the costumes (a la X-Men getting rid of yellow spandex), but it doesn’t always work. For instance:
Yeah. After Odin loses an eye to the Frost Giants, he dons a lovely futury-metallicy eyepatch thing held on by magic (because, as Thor tells us, in Asgard magic and science are one and the same thing). Are straps not good enough for you, Odin?
And every costume must have circles on it. At one point Odin rips these circles off Thor and he seems to lose his power, so at least they explain why the circles are there (though they don’t explain why the circles contain power).
I know I just finished on Costumes, but this one deserves its own category. There are some big hats in here that just look out of place.
Granted, I can see what they were going for here. The bad guy has a hat with giant horns just like devil horns, in case we didn’t realise that he was the bad guy. In case we hadn’t realised from the first shot of him, purely because he was thin and pale and had dark hair rather than buff and tanned and golden-haired like Thor.
Then there’s this guy: the gatekeeper to the interstellar cannon. He gets a good hat, red eyes, seems to change height just to be imposing, and generally kicks arse. If only we didn’t spend all his time wondering how it is his hat doesn’t fall off.
Thor has four friends who are conveniently easy to tell apart, considering they’re all apparently from Norse legend. There’s the woman. The Asian guy (yes, in Asgard). The French Poet. And the tall-version-of-Gimli guy.
Yes, it’s good to be able to tell these people apart, but they don’t fit the whole Norse thing that Thor is rocking. Were they worried someone would cry “Racist” if the Viking-god film only starred Viking-looking people?
Also, there are quite a lot of characters. In addition to Thor, his father, his brother, his four friends, the gatekeeper, and the Frost Giants, on earth we have the guy from SHIELD, the scientist chick, her professor, and their comedic offsider. That’s quite a cast. Good thing they’re all so instantly recognisable. If only they were all necessary…
It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. The plot on Asgard has been done before, almost to death, and people spout silly lines every now and again, but for the most it avoids them.
What’s the Solution?
Short of renouncing the magic-is-the-same-as-science thing and having Asgard actually be a heavenly realm, there isn’t much you can do. That said, I think I’d prefer to see that film; it would save all the clunky exposition about how the Norse myths were actually technological devices and Yggdrasil is actually a network of StarGates connecting all the planets together. Stop taking the magic out of magic and stop putting everyone in power armour.
It’s a comic-book movie, but they seem to have come into their own at last. Good directors. Good actors. Good stor– Uh… good humour. It’s genuinely funny most of the time, and the rest of the time you can laugh at the hats and the capes and the French Poet. Just don’t expect the Asgard story to blow you away with new ideas.