The next entry in our series of MCU Reviews is 2011’s Thor.
Now, this is one of the MCU films that I vividly remember watching upon release, and felt at the time that it had completely redefined what a superhero film could be. While I still believe that this is the case, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed this time around.
Visually, Thor is a remarkable film. Its depiction of Asgard as a shining golden jewel of a world, as well as the stark contrast of the arid New Mexican desert to which Thor is exiled, only serves to add to this brilliant realisation of the film’s general tone. The character design is excellent, with costumes that evoke both the film’s mythical and comic book roots.
Sadly, Thor wasn’t the same exciting film that I’d remembered it to be. Yes, there’s several action scenes, and they’re all visually spectacular, but there was very little excitement in them. In fact, outside of its visuals, Thor had very little to offer – aside from a few good performances from Chris Hemsworth, Stellan Skarsgård and Anthony Hopkins, there’s actually very little of note going on.
Strangely, I believe that the problem stems from Thor’s story arc over the future of the MCU. When you watch his debut armed with the knowledge of all that’s coming, it seems remarkably tame, not to mention a little dull. Nowhere is this point more evident than in the film’s antagonist, Loki. Tom Hiddleston has brought the character to the forefront of pop culture, making him a firm fan-favourite over the course of his numerous appearances, but in Thor, the actor is given precious little to do. In fact, Loki’s debut is that of a fairly generic villain, with paint-by-numbers motivations and his powers (along with his character) almost entirely undefined.
That isn’t to say that Thor is a bad film, though. It marked a departure for Marvel, who, until that point, had been telling fairly run-of-the-mill superhero stories, instead wading into territory that studios would never have considered adapting beforehand. Like Iron Man, Thor was a B- or C-list hero, and general opinion of him was that he was something of a cartoonish joke and a relic of the Golden Age of comics, but Thor gave him three dimensions, made him look cool, and Hemsworth brought the character to life with both humour and pathos, easily making him the most intriguing figure of the MCU at that point.
Really, it’s this potential that makes Thor so enjoyable. What it gives is a solid film, but there’s also an ethereal promise of what’s still to come – and watching post-Endgame, it’s staggering to see just how much Marvel have invested in the character.
Summary: Thor hints at an MCU that was far broader than anyone expected, but it’s not without its pacing issues. Luckily, Hemsworth is on hand with a stellar performance to smooth over some of the less inspired acting from his co-stars.
Highlights: Any of Thor’s outbursts when trying to fit in on Earth – “Another!”, and “Give me one large enough to ride,” will forever be hilarious.