Thor introduces an entirely new realm of mythology to the Marvel Cinematic Universe by way of the wondrous beauty that is Asgard.
The film’s prologue introduces us to the nine realms, Asgardians, and Frost Giants. We already had somewhat of an introduction during Captain America with the search for the Tesseract. It goes without saying that one expands upon the mythology. The main artifact that drives the plot is the Casket of Ancient Winters. It’s what gives the Frost Giants their power but thankfully for Earth, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, is able to stop Laufrey (Colm Feore) and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim.
We quickly catch up to present day Asgard where Thor is about to take over the throne from his father. But before it can happen, some Frost Giants break into the weapons vault. Next thing you know, the titular hero is off to wage war on the Frost Giants. There’s some stubborness in him. His own dad believes that it was the fact of a few rather than the act of their king. Anybody familiar with Norse mythology will immediately place the blame on Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Showing his displeasure, Odin strips Thor of his power and banishes him and hammer Mjölnir to Earth. Both land in New Mexico. What follows is a comical ruse of people trying to pull the hammer as if it were the sword in the stone. If only it were that easy!
Our good friends at S.H.I.E.L.D.–led by agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg)–find the hammer and set up shop. While this is going on, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and Dr. Erik Selvig come upon the mysterious man who fell from the sky. Thor is dead-set on wielding his hammer again but fate certainly has something else in store. He breaks into the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility in hopes of getting his hammer and Foster’s work but fails miserably. At this point, one begins to think if he’s even worthy of the power of Thor.
Cue Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three of Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun. With Loki now ruling over Asgard, they do their best to bring Thor back. Again, it is easier said than done. Loki sends the Destroyer and if Thor does not rise up to the occasion, it’s all over for him. Back on Asgard, Thor takes the fight to Loki and it doesn’t end well for the latter.
I love 2 Broke Girls star Kat Dennings in this movie. She’s basically the film’s comic relief in a film that is otherwise full of action and drama. Thor doesn’t reach his full film potential until Thor: Ragnarok but I can’t stop thinking what Taika Watiiti would have done with the earlier installments. This isn’t to say anything necessarily bad about this one. It’s just that after you see Ragnarok, you know that you can never go back to the prior films. Not in the same way, of course.
On the MCU front, the film introduces us to Hawkeye, Agent Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), in an uncredited appearance. Agent Coulson gets some decent screen time but the S.H.I.E.L.D. scenes serve more or less as a way to introduce characters that we’ll see later in The Avengers.
As far as a film that introduces us to the mythology and paves the way for later films, Thor certainly does the job.
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
SCREENWRITERS: Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Don Payne
CAST: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins