Unlike most modern-day superheroes from Stan Lee’s Marvel Universe, especially ones adapted for Hollywood blockbusters, Thor is not a mild-mannered human being who suddenly gains extraordinary powers. As the God of Thunder, he was born with them and he’s not shy about making that known. At the beginning of the movie, he’s loud, pompous and arrogant, and it’s apposite, I suppose, that he wields an oversized steel hammer to fend off his enemies, who are comprised of a cold, blue race of monster-looking individuals called the Frost Giants, who freeze anything they touch.
Before I go any further, based on what I’ve just told you, you can understand my praise for director Kenneth Branagh, the movie’s three screenwriters and the cast for taking what could have been a potential Razzie winner and crafting it into a coherent, energetic popcorn movie. M. Night Shyamalan should watch Thor and take notes. His The Last Airbender could have benefited from this movie’s ability to take something that probably seems ridiculous on paper and make it work on film.
Back on Asgard, Loki discovers he’s not who he seems and is sworn in as king when Odin falls into a deep sleep. To prove himself worthy, he plans to destroy the Frost Giants on his own, a decision that, for Loki anyway, comes with its own conflict of interest.
Loki’s story is actually the most intriguing part of the movie. It’s rich and complex and Tom Hiddleston is quite convincing and passionate in the role. Dare I say Loki’s conflict approaches the level of Shakespeare, from which it is probably derived? Okay, that may be going too far, but for a movie like Thor to even suggest such a connection means it’s aiming higher than most superhero movies. And although it’s loaded with action and special effects, which are good but not spectacular, the characters remain at the center of it all. Along with Hiddleston, Hemsworth, Hopkins, Portman and Skarsgard are all given room to act and they take their characters seriously, giving them weight and dimension. Because we were only expecting fluff, this comes as a pleasant surprise.