Thor — The Movie
May 10, 2011

Review by Ed Sizemore

In an attempt to answer my question, Ed was kind enough to write up his thoughts on Thor.

At its core, the new Thor movie is similar to the first Iron Man movie. It’s a transformation film where we watch Thor go from being arrogant, selfish, and warlike to someone who is ready to learn what it takes to be a true leader of gods and humans. The problem is that the framing story threatens to overwhelm this emotional center.

Thor is a very plot-heavy film, and an attempt to even summarize the events would take several pages. So here is a bare bones outline. Thor breaks the peace with the Frost Giants against the express command of his father, Odin. Infuriated, Odin strips Thor of his power and his hammer, Mjolnir. They are both banished to Earth.

Thor movie poster

On Earth, Thor meets and becomes attracted to Jane Foster, an astrophysicist. Thor’s brother, Loki, lies and tells Thor that Odin overtaxed himself when he banished Thor and has died as a result. Thor is devastated and begins some soul searching. Thor’s friends come and expose Loki’s lies.

Thor and friends return to Asgard. They stop Loki’s schemes. However, to do so, Thor must make a great sacrifice.

The main flaw in the film is that the events on Earth are meant to be the heart of the story. This is where the character transformation happens. This is where we learn to like and are able to relate to Thor. The problem is this second act feels like a side story distracting us from the important events happening in Asgard. It’s not hard to re-imagine this movie with Thor staying in Asgard and learning the same lessons.

Thor’s transformation feels unearned. Within the course of 48 hours, Thor has learned humility and has become a more empathetic man. This makes Thor a very fast learner. The first act suggests otherwise, and so undercuts the emotional sincerity of the second act. By contrast, in Iron Man, Stark spends three months in an Afghanistan cave learning to be a better man.

I actually think the Avengers cartoon, currently running on Disney XD, has a better setup for Thor’s transformation than the movie. In the cartoon, Jane Foster is a paramedic, and Thor is taken aback by her heroism. She has no powers or special weapons, but she isn’t scared to go get injured people while superheroes and supervillains are duking it out. She gets Thor to rethink what it means to be a hero. That setup would have been perfect for this movie, too.

For me, the key to enjoying this film is Chris Hemsworth’s performance as Thor. Granted, Thor is arrogant, self-absorbed, a braggart, and war-loving. However, he is also honest, sincere, and loyal. It’s this lack of malevolence that makes Thor sympathetic. Even when he runs off to start a war with the Frost Giants, it’s because he sincerely (and mistakenly) believes the gods have been wronged.

In the end, Thor is an enjoyable film. The plot moves quickly and doesn’t allow the audience any time to get bored. The costume designers did a great job bringing to life the Asgardian gods. There’s a nice blend of humor, action, and drama. While Thor has its flaws, you’ll have a good time.

12 Responses  
Rob writes:  

Hm, could this be a spoiler-enabed spot for discussing the movie? I have some questions about the plotting (referred to obliquely in my comment to Johanna’s post) that I’d like to try and hash out.

Also, since we didn’t stick around for the after-credits scene, is it online somewhwere?

Johanna writes:  

It’s fine by me. Ed can moderate this one, so I’ll avoid the spoilers.

I’m pretty sure that googling “thor after credits scene” will get you the video, or EW.com has posted a description.

Ed Sizemore writes:  


Sure, we can discuss plot. Just try to mark your comment with “SPOILER ALERT”.

Video for the ending Easter egg isn’t online. Wikipedia does have a description of the scene in its entry for the movie. It would be nice if Marvel put all these ending Easter eggs together as a teaser for the Avenger movie.

Grant writes:  

Bleeding Cool also has the post credits scene.

I’m of the opinion that Thor wasn’t a priority with regards to Budget. This wasn’t close to either Iron Man movies with regards to production, at least from what I saw on screen. I think Marvel is putting the big bucks behind the Cap movie. Cap is the more iconic. That’s not to say Thor wasn’t important to them. But it seemed like television level production. Like something you’d see on Sci Fi Channel.

Jim Perreault writes:  

Commenting on what he calls “the main flaw”, Ed wrote:

It’s not hard to re-imagine this movie with Thor staying in Asgard and learning the same lessons.

I disagree with this assessment. IMO, one of the defining characteristics of Thor is that he is a man (err, god) of two worlds. A person with divided loyalties and conflicting responsibilities. If the film was rewritten as you suggested, than it would cease to be a Thor movie.

I feel the film does a very good job at balancing the Asgard and Earth aspects, and that it is essential for any Thor movie to do that.

What I feel is the main flaw is, as you wrote, Thor’s transformation is not well motivated. We are told that Thor has changed, and not shown it.

I find the rest of your review spot on. In particular, the open scenes where the back story is given did not work well at all. In addition to the fact that it was rushed, I also feel that the script was very weak for that portion. Also, the CGI was very static as well. I wonder if it would have worked better if they would have used a medieval art motif instead?



Ed Sizemore writes:  

Jim, thanks for your input. If there is a sequel, I’m hoping they’ll develop Thor’s motivation to stay connected with Earth better.

James Schee writes:  

I saw this yesterday and was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it, despite having never really care for Thor much in comics. The actors really breathed more life into him than any comic story ever did. I think a part of it is actually allowing Loki to be at least a tiny bit of a sympathetic character (he was right about Thor not being right to be king after all) and having Thor actually care for Loki.

My one concern about the plot was that Loki was basically the reason why Thor changed. If his goal as to keep Thor away, than going to Thor and saying you screwed up and its all your fault everything bad that’s happened, which was what brought on the humility not anything to do with Jane. Seems to be quite a bad error on his part.

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