Sick of films from Marvel Studios? Think list articles are cliche? If your answer to either of those questions is ‘no,’ then there is a chance you will not hate this countdown of the best (and only) films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
In some ways, I find this to be the most insulting film in the entire MCU. It’s just so poorly conceived and made that it’s hard to believe anyone has ever said a positive word about it. The acting, writing, directing, special effects, etc. are terrible across the board with very few exceptions. It feels like a camel. Someone wanted to tell Thor’s arc from no-good jock to humble prince. Someone wanted to tell the story of Loki’s fall from grace. (And they’re brothers! It’s like poetry. They rhyme.) Someone wanted to introduce warring alien race that is a threat to Thor’s future kingdom. Someone wanted to do a kooky romantic comedy where the guy is an alien prince, and the woman is a human scientist. (Can two people from different worlds make it work?!??!?) Someone wanted this film to be mere introduction/prequel for the MCU that introduces a number of characters/continue plots on the margins without doing anything of significance in the film they were actually in. Unfortunately, instead of doing any one of those movies well, they made five different movies at the same time (and they all sucked).
What did this movie accomplish beyond introduce two characters (Thor & Loki) that were going to be pivotal of the upcoming Marvel’s The Avengers? I do not even say that as someone that dislikes introducing ideas/characters/storyline threads that do not have immediate payoffs. I literally just think that this film accomplished nothing of value and poorly executed almost every step of the way other than that.
What are some things the movie gets right?
Decent casting, I guess? At least in the theoretical sense. Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgaard, and Idris Elba are all great actors. None of them get much to do though, and you’re consistently left wondering why anyone would bother casting such great actors for such shit roles.
What are some things the movie gets wrong?
Short Answer: Just about everything else.
Thor’s “arc.” The arc Thor goes through is laughable. He starts the film as the high school jock that never grew up…in the hundreds if not thousands of years that he had been alive. He is humbled by being sent to Earth without his powers and Natalie Portman turns him into a decent creature of the universe within a few hours. How does she do this? I’m not entirely sure. I think it’s because the script said so.
Loki. Tom Hiddleston and the Marvel writers clearly had no idea how to portray Loki yet by this point. He was closer to a sniveling coward as opposed to the epic villain with delusions of grandeur in later MCU films. The story of this Thor film is basically the rise of Thor and the fall of Loki are major character arcs of the film, but both fail to land in any significant way.
The CGI Villain Army Crutch. Marvel has a serious problem with relying on the narrative crutch that is the CGI Villain Army. It’s especially annoying here, as it’s clear that Thor vs. Loki is real issue of the film that needs addressing (and also would serve as a better title if not for Marvel Studios’ branding needs). If you want to introduce this alien race in the film, put in some work to make us care about them.
Thor’s fellow alien pals. Thor has four friends that fight along side him all the time. I don’t know their names, but you might as well refer to them as The Fat One, The Asian One, The Women One, and Errol Flynn. I don’t write that to demean fat people, Asian people, or women (or Errol Flynn for that matter), but the movie puts in zero effort to make these characters into actual characters. They’re just there, because they were (presumably) there in the comics. Compare this to Star Lord’s alien pals in Guardians in the Galaxy, and you’ll immediately understood the potential Thor had as an ensemble piece and didn’t even come close to.
The lack of stakes and consequences.
So, you do this movie. It’s shit, but lots of stuff that seems important happens at the end. Loki falls off a rainbow bridge and seemingly floats into space. Thor sacrifices being with Natalie Portman (Does she have a name? Let’s call her ‘Padme’ because that’s how interesting her character is.) in order to win at the end. What happens the next time we see Loki and Thor? Loki is fine and taking over Earth. Thor travels back on Earth because his father did something (in a passing line of dialogue). Compare that to the end of Captain America: The First Avenger essentially being erased because Captain America actually survives that. Cap then had to go through the ordeal of basically losing everyone in his life when he woke up. That was explored effectively if briefly in his next two major film appearances, and there was a whole television show devoted to how Cap’s “death” impacted those closest to them. The end results of Thor were rendered completely meaningless in every way.