Thunder struck in 2011, with The Mighty Thor making his cinematic debut!

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 77%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 76%

Thor Odinson… You have betrayed the express command of your king.  Through your arrogance and stupidity, you’ve opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war!  You are unworthy of these realms, you’re unworthy of your title, you’re unworthy… of the loved ones you have betrayed!  I now take from you your power!  In the name of my father and his father before, I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!

The Comic Inspiration of Thor

One of the Avengers ‘Trinity’ (along with Iron Man and Captain America), Thor’s appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was hardly unexpected, with Chris Hemsworth taking the leading role.  What was unexpected was the take, which simplified his origin – removing Donald Blake entirely from it, although making a subtle nod.  The film roots itself immediately in the wider Asgardian cast that developed over the decades, particularly Sif (Jamie Alexander) and the Warriors Three, and establishes Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and the Frost Giants as the main villains.  Just as ‘Iron Man 2‘ introduced Black Widow as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., so ‘Thor‘ introduces Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.

It is hard to find direct inspiration for the plot in the comics, but the film pays constant homage.

Summary of Thor

Odin Allfather, absolute monarch of Asgard, has two sons; Thor and Loki, one of whom will take the throne when they are ready.  And that time approaches; but as Odin prepares to hand over the throne to Thor, a triumphant warrior, Asgard is invaded by a small group of Frost Giants.

Thor and Odin argue over the best course of action, and Loki subtly manipulates his brother into disobeying a direct order; Thor leads a strike team to the land of the Frost Giants, where they engage their ancient enemies but are rescued by Odin.  With the fragile peace between Asgard and the Frost Giants broken, an enraged Odin casts Thor out, stripping him of his power, and throws mystic Mjolnir after him with a declaration that only one who is ‘worthy’ may wield the hammer – and power – of Thor.

Thor is found by a group of astrophysicists, including attractive Jane Foster, and his sanity is brought into question.  Not least when Thor learns that Mjolnir has been cordoned off by S.H.I.E.L.D., and attempts to recover his hammer.  Unworthy, he is unsuccessful, and is broken.

MANHATTAN

Meanwhile, on Asgard, Loki learns that he was adopted into Odin’s family – he is, in truth, son of the Frost Giant’s king, Laufey.  The argument proves too much for Odin, who sinks into a coma-like sleep to recover.  Loki takes the throne, and lies to Thor that Odin is dead.  He then begins to prepare a deal with the Frost Giants, launching a twisted scheme to somehow earn Odin’s love.  When Sif and the Warriors Three betray Loki by heading to Earth after Thor, Loki sends the Destroyer after them.  Only an act of self-sacrifice proves Thor worthy, and, regaining his power, he returns to Asgard and battles Loki.  Before he does so, he and Jane Foster share a passionate kiss.

In the aftermath, Asgard’s rainbow bridge – the route to other worlds – is destroyed, and Loki is lost.  In an after-credits scene, one of the astrophysicists, Eric Selvig, is given an opportunity to investigate a mysterious power-source – and we learn that he is now manipulated by Loki…

Thor’s Best Moment

This, undoubtedly, is at the climax of Thor’s experience in New Mexico.  He chooses to sacrifice himself, and in so doing proves himself worthy to wield the power of Mjolnir!

Thor’s Stan Lee cameo

Picking up Mjolnir basically became a sport, and Stan Lee took the best approach – using a pickup truck!  Needless to say, the scene is brilliantly funny, and the inclusion of Stan Lee as the driver just adds to the humour.

Thor’s One-Shot Connections

The One-Shot “Something Funny Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer” shows a bit of Coulson being a badass during a random act of violence en route to the hammer.  Beyond that, there is no connection to the One-Shots.  However, Lady Sif is a character who has appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a number of times, helping to expand the TV show’s universe to fit more closely with the larger MCU.

Thor Review

Marvel Studios are happy taking risks, and ‘Thor‘ proved as much.  Up till now, the films had been rooted purely in science-fiction – exoskeletal armour and gamma-radiation-induced mutation.  But now, they branched out to the epic fantasy worlds of The Mighty Thor, although they did so carefully and hesitantly.  The ‘World Tree’ was recast as a cosmological phenomenon, and the sorcery of Asgard was explained as advanced science, in accordance with Clarke’s law: “Any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic.”  That being said, Odin’s blessing upon Mjolnir stretches that concept to breaking point.

The film took the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a whole new level, introducing a cosmic element that hadn’t really been hinted at before.  The world of Asgard is beautifully designed, and the film opens with a great sense of wonder.

Thor's Asgard

But the beauty and grandeur is balanced out with a rich vein of humour, with Thor’s ‘fish-out-of-water’ character on Earth played to maximum effect.  It’s interesting, too, that this film flips the previous movies on their head; for much of the film, S.H.I.E.L.D. play an antagonistic role, but this is offset by sympathetic vibes from Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson and Hawkeye.

All this said, two people dominate the film; Thor and Loki, and both are brilliantly portrayed.  Loki is easily the most well-designed villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Hiddleston’s acting is superb.

Thor’s Impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Thor‘ ups the ante of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a cosmic scale, while also seeding the elements of fantasy that would be mined in the sequel.  While this film is wary of committing to sorcery in what had previously been a science-fiction universe, the Dark Elves of ‘Thor: The Dark World‘ – and Lorelei from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘ – both move on from this, building towards the Phase Three ‘Doctor Strange‘ film.

Both ‘The Avengers‘ and ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘ have gone to great lengths to establish that the events of ‘Thor‘ transformed Earth’s perception of the universe.  Suddenly, S.H.I.E.L.D. knew that humanity was not alone, and all the measures they had been taking would become infinitely more important.

The characters of Thor and Loki are both integral to the Avengers, and – just as in the comics – Loki will be the villain whose threat brings the team together in ‘The Avengers‘, with his story leading on from this.  The Tesseract, appearing in the end-scene, will be explained in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger‘.

To revisit the earlier movies in the MCU, check out our articles on Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2!

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