The Big Damn MCU Rewatch: Thor (2011)
Thor (2011) represented a big change of pace for the fledgling MCU. Bringing Kenneth Branagh, Shakespearean actor and director, on to direct and giving him effectively completely creative control meant Thor looked very different to the previous MCU movies… and indeed any other superhero movie made before, or since. The Asgard scenes are very Shakespearean in their setting and scope, and the actors Branagh chose really did them justice, as does Patrick Doyle’s amazing musical score.
Many of the main characters had never helmed a movie before this; Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Rene Russo were arguably the only ‘big names’, but after Thor Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have both gone on to become two of the world’s biggest stars, and I personally credit this not only to their own talent (which both certainly have in spades) but Branagh’s direction, which enabled then to display their acting skills to the full. We also got Jaime Alexander as a top female action star, and with a supporting cast like Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings, there’s no shortage of acting talent on the screen.
There are notable changes of pace between the scenes on Asgard and those on Earth, but to me that’s no bad thing. It’s contrast; it’s a clever illustration of the culture shock Thor must have been feeling. About the only thing which was familiar to him was the way a pretty woman reacted to his flirting, but it’s a measure of Thor’s intelligence how fast he adapts to the strange. Thor was never the big dumb blond some thought him to be. You just had to look a little deeper, past the habitual posturing, to find it.
Favourite moment: Jane hitting Thor with her van for the second time “I swear I’m not doing this on purpose!”
Kieran said it was Fandral saying “We’re doomed” after the guard came to summon the Warriors Three and Sif to Heimdall as they were plotting to go behind Loki’s back to get Thor.
Best one-liner: Thor was more a drama movie than a comedy, but we still had plenty of fun asides, with Darcy Lewis and Fandral in particular giving us a few moments of light relief. Still I loved Thor dumping Erik on Jane’s bunk with “We drank, we fought, he made his ancestors proud.”
Connor says it’s the SHIELD agents who call in “We got Xena, Jackie Chan and Robin Hood”.
Least favourite moment: The fight on Jotunheim. The CGI is a bit too obvious; it’s actually the first time in the MCU that the scenery doesn’t look ‘real’. Industrial Light & Magic, who’d done all the MCU’s CGI effects up to this point (and every movie since) weren’t on board for Thor 2, and it shows.
Overall star rating: 8/10. The change of pace set up Thor as a very different kind of character to the other superheroes we’d met thus far in the MCU, and set up what was coming in Captain America (with the 'alien magic' of the Tesseract) and the Avengers, with aliens coming to Earth. It began a trend which has continued in the Marvel films of taking relatively unknown actors and giving them challenging lead roles which turned them into bankable megastars.