The original Hammer is here. Thor, Norse god of thunder and lightning (and the source of the word “Thursday”), star of Marvel comics written by Stan Lee and his brother Larry Lieber and memorably illustrated by Jack Kirby, now joins his fellow Marvel superheros with his own movie franchise. Marvel pretty much has the big budget franchise assembly line working smoothly. While it does not hit the spot the way “Iron Man” did, it delivers on what it sets out to do, pleasing newcomers and fanboys as well. To say that the post-credit sequence glimpse of things to come is the best part of the film is just to say that this film meets its number one goal — to increase anticipation for next summer’s Avengers movie, where we will see the superhero all-stars working together.
Thor (Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth) is the son of Odin, King of the Gods (Anthony Hopkins in magisterial mode). In myth, Odin traded his eye for wisdom. In comic books, he lost it in battle with the Frost Giants, with whom they now have an uneasy truce. Thor has a brother named Loki. They are close, but competitive, and true to his stormy nature, Thor is impetuous and arrogant. A small incursion by the Frost Giants is squelched. Odin wants to leave it at that. Thor disobeys and takes the warriors from Asgard through a portal to fight the Frost Giants. They fight bravely, but they are overmatched, and barely rescued by Odin. Furious, Odin banishes Thor to earth, stripping him of his powers — and his mighty hammer. “That is pride and vanity talking,” he tells his son, “not leadership.”
A physicist named Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) as pretty as her name is plain, finds him as she is investigating some cosmic phenomena. As the government steps in to take over the investigation (“We’re the good guys.” “So are we.”) she begins to realize that he is more than human. And he begins to realize that the battles he left behind are following him to earth. “These are someone else’s constellations,” Jane says as she looks up at the sky.
This has all the ingredients for a superhero movie — director Kenneth Branagh (yes, that Kenneth Branagh) ably mixes the action and drama. He takes it seriously enough to satisfy the fanboys and slyly but respectfully tantalizes them with touches only they will understand — look for Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye alter ego Clint Barton and a shout-out to Tony Stark. But he makes it accessible to newcomers and adds in some humor, much of it provided by the refreshing Kat Dennings. Hemsworth has all the charm and brawn anyone could wish, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki is one of the best super-villains to hurtle through a vortex to take control of the universe. And the hammer really is extremely cool.
Stay to the very end of the credits for a glimpse of “The Avengers.” If it makes this movie feel like nothing more than a long coming attraction, it makes me glad that “Captain America” will be out soon.
Parents should know that this movie has extended sci-fi/fantasy violence with characters injured and killed. There is a scene in a bar and a character gets drunk.
Family discussion: What did Thor have to learn to deserve the hammer? What is the meaning of the quote from Arthur C. Clarke about science and magic?
If you like this, try: the other Marvel films like “Iron Man” and “Spider-Man” and the original comics from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. You can brush up on Thor lore with this piece by Cinema Blend.