Considering how inherently cheesy Marvel Comics’ Thor is, he seemed to be the ultimate ‘unfilmable’ comic book character.
Yet despite that fact, Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” brings this character to life as one of the best superhero films I’ve seen.
“Thor” first takes place on Asgard, the Norse version of Olympus.
Here lives the powerful alien race known as the Asgardians, which includes the one-eyed king Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and his two sons Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
The muscular Thor is the definition of a fierce warrior, armed with Mjolnir – a hammer which harnesses all the power of the universe.
Loki, on the other hand, relies more on deception and mischief to win his wars.
Thor disobeys a direct order that leads to another full-out war with another alien race.
Odin strips his son of his powers and sends him (along with Mjolnir) in exile to another realm: Earth.
A powerless Thor crashes in New Mexico and is found by a group of scientists led by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
Jane is determined to learn who this strange man is, while – not far from their location – the government agency S.H.I.E.L.D has discovered a massive crater where Mjolnir landed.
It cannot be moved until it is picked up by someone worthy of its power. Meanwhile, taking advantage of Thor’s exile, Loki makes his move on Asgard in order to take over the throne and destroy his brother.
Alongside “Iron Man,” “Thor” is the closest Marvel has ever come to approaching the quality of DC Comics’ Batman.
This claim to fame is the credit of a flawless director, versatile acting, stunning visuals, great battle scenes, and a character-capturing screenplay.
Kenneth Branagh is by far the best director to tackle a Marvel superhero film and he takes on the challenge with his signature understanding of the grand scale of epics and outstanding characterization.
Having directed several iconic Shakespeare adaptations (“Hamlet”), Branagh’s decision to break into the superhero genre with “Thor” makes sense as certain facets of Thor fit with Shakespearean characters and plotting. Branagh brings his Shakespearian background with him and it assuredly shows.
Branagh’s biggest success is his casting. It’s risky to hire unknowns as the stars, but Branagh obviously knew what to look for and he chose well.
By the film’s end, you’ll know Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston.
Hemsworth is an example of picture-perfect casting. There is literally no one else who could embody Thor’s golden locks, crimson cape, warlike arrogance and cocky smirk without looking like a man badly playing dress-up.
Hemsworth radiates authenticity and that helps with the role’s unbelievable challenges.
The same can be said for Hiddleston, who brings a real human dimension to a potentially one-dimensional character.
He’s easily comparable to the great Marvel villains like Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from “Spider-Man 2.”
Outside the latest Batman movies, “Thor” is perhaps the only other superhero film that is breathtakingly flawless in its epic grandeur.
“Thor” does for Marvel what “Batman Begins” did for DC Comics; it raises the bar for what superhero films should be expected to accomplish.
Fans will undoubtedly get more than they ever could have desired or expected, while people unaware of Thor will find themselves wholly entertained.
Suffice it to say that Thor is a superhero that audiences will be happy to see again in a year.