The Mighty Thor has become the God of gentle rains and cat naps.
I like Marvel’s comic Thor, but this film adaptation was a weak and very safe story with little to say or root for or believe in.
Why was this film so afraid to go out on a limb?
Why was there so little drama, dynamism, or strong characterization?

I was really only into the film up until Thor’s exile and then the movie drops away into a stale tale that instead of giving us a “prince’s mythic quest to become a wise king” we’re served up a cake walk of “a dumb lovable jock’s Sunday School lesson.”

(I’m going to offer up some possible solutions to the film’s problems in a sec–I promise I’m not going to just complain.)

Natalie Portman is hamming it up big time an artificial and awkward performance. I don’t know exactly if it was a bad casting choice for the part, if she is a terrible actor (which I’m leaning towards) or if she never caught on to what kind of tone and characterization the film/director were looking for.
The other casting choices were pretty spot on especially with Chris Hemsworth as Thor.
Kat Dennings’ character is the supposed to be the film’s humor (and she fulfills the task of the role well enough) but the humor is just not there and the character ends up just being this fawning Geek Fantasy(?) sidekick.

The opportunities for real drama are present but nothing is ever capitalized on and it ends up being just a milquetoast shrug.
The ‘final showdown’ of Thor and the Slow-Walking Fire Breathing Tin Can was as anti-climatic as reaching for the last Peanut M&M and finding it already gone.

And what, may I ask, was ‘Shakespearean’ about this?
I read it touted that the story was akin to the family dramas by the Bard, but if all it takes to be compared to
Ol’ Quill Scribbler Bill is sibling rivalry and an ailing King, just about every story could qualify.

How could Thor have been better?

1. Allow More Room For Thor To Grow:
I like that this superhero movie doesn’t need to go through the usual ‘origin story’ normally requisite for an introductory superhero movie. Thor is who he is.
Of course superheroes’ origins are not always about their gaining of their superpower, but how they decide to use it and their personal growth. When done well, this keeps the hero accessible and relatable.
With Thor, there is an arc of a cocksure and brash warrior learning the tempered wisdom needed to be like a wise king.
To give Thor more room to grow, a simple story tweak could have been used: not have the initial raid into the Frost Giants’ land be a ‘set up’ by Loki. There also could have been more of a fallout with negative consequences due to his unwise invasion.
Were the writers too leery about the possible political connotations to allow Thor these human mistakes? Of the ‘go it alone’ cocky cowboy attitude being shown to be devastating to a peoples’ overall security?
This ‘fatal flaw’ of Thor’s could have set up more growth potential for his character at the end where he could have displayed patient cunning to win against the foe Loki.
Which brings me to…

2. Allow More Room For Loki to Develop.
Loki is a jerk from the get go. He is shown to be treacherous and conniving from the very start and we learn that his plotting started even before the narrative of the film.
If Loki was given more moral ambiguity he would have been much more interesting.
It would have helped also to have just a little bit of a picture of how Loki would have wanted to rule Asgard. If he were allowed to state simply some good plans for how Asgard would be made better under his leadership, we would be able to understand and empathize a bit more with his character.

3. Create a Cool Enemy for Thor to Combat.
We see Thor face no real threat!
(Aside from the ‘sacrifice scene’ of course…more on that in a second)
The closest we come is maybe his fight with the tough Shield Agent in the mud. That fight is not interesting and plays like a Patrick Swayze brawl scene from Road House.
In the comics and cartoons, Thor is given many interesting foes that test him and push him to the limit and it was unfortunate that we were not allowed to see him face a truly daunting foe…whether in his ‘god’ status or in his ‘Ordinary Joe’ status.

4. Create a Sacrifice Scenario That Doesn’t Require Thor to “Have Read The Script”
A trouble that you see some movies get into is characters making decisions that don’t make sense given what they know.
It is almost as though they have “read the script” and somehow have access to more information than what the story has given them.
So when we come to the ‘sacrifice scene’ and Thor says of Tin Can Man: “It just wants me.” and allows it to kill him, it is an
unreasonable action because there could be no way for Thor to know that his being killed would stop the monster.
Why wouldn’t he have some doubt about whether this giant Tin Can Man would just keep on destroying the town and even the world?
This ‘death and resurrection’ scene is fine: there’s just about no hero story (super or otherwise) that won’t include some sort of ‘conquering the grave’ motif but I just didn’t like the way it was set up.

5. Give Thor Motivation to Love Natalie Portman Aside From Her Hotness.
Hollywood has a legacy of writing female characters poorly and this leads many movies to rely on the fact that the leading lady is “hot” to motivate the hero to fall in love with them.
The one thing that we could possibly see as being a (non-hot related) motivation for their attraction?
Thor is the God of Thunder and can control the weather.
She loves storms.
Its like a hockey player meets a hot girl who likes to watch hockey.
“She knows who the Red Wings are! I think I’m in love.”

6. Reincorporate The Adoption Theme
This would be a small story decision that could solve a number of problems I had with the movie.
Imagine if Natalie Portman is a single mother with a little kid (kids are a great way to convey the childlike wonder we
should have with this kind of movie anyway–we might be able to connect with a child’s first introduction to the idea of Thor) and she is not a storm chaser but a cop, a fire fighter, a nurse, a mayor or some other admirable profession that might give her character more connection to a ‘prince-like warrior.’
Thor as his ‘ordinary joe’ persona could face very human conflict of Natalie The Single Mother dealing with a human threat in town and Thor would have to step up to help her and could be shown taking her child “under his wing” and being a father
figure.
This would echo the fatherly care that Odin showed to Loki, give more character connection being Thor and Natalie Portman, allow Thor to face daunting human foes that could give him a sacrifice scene with real danger.

Anywho, the film was okay and I would barely recommend it even for those viewers who like Thor.
I do like Thor quite a bit and I thought the “fallen from grace”, “unrecognized God/Hero” motifs were used to pretty good
effect.
I also liked that Hawkeye made a cameo (one of my favorite Avengers).
And what was up with the “easter egg teaser” after the credits? Boring, blah, and meh.

Bottom line: I give Thor two Mjolnirs out of five.

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