The fourth movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and boy does it have a cast! First, you have Kenneth Branagh, who in addition to acting (he’s appeared in three movies he’s directed, is well known amongst a certain generation as Gilderoy Lockhart in Chamber of Secrets, and has appeared in several performances of Shakespeare, including the titular Hamlet and Henry V), has directed both Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, as well as the 2015 live action Disney Cinderella, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. On top of that, Chris Hemsworth (before this, in 2009, he played George Kirk in Star Trek, and was the Huntsman in both Huntsman films with Kristen Stewart) stars as Thor, Natalie Portman (well-known for playing Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy [so you kind of have the joke that in this movie you have James Kirk’s dad and Luke Skywalker’s mom, who are now a couple], and Anne Boleyn in the movie adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl) is Jane Foster, and Tom Hiddleston (has gone on to star in several films and even has a scene in Muppets Most Wanted, though I adore him in The Hollow Crown as Prince Hal/Henry V, and he appeared in War Horse alongside Benedict Cumberbatch [and a whole host of other British actors]) is Loki. [Tom originally auditioned to play Thor, but was cast as Loki instead and these roles became star-making roles for both Hemsworth and Hiddleston…and I still need to watch that Loki show on Disney+.]
Stellan Skarsgård (he was in both Mamma Mia films and two of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, along with being Cerdic in King Arthur in 2004 and the Grand Duke in the live-action Cinderella) is Erik Selvig, Anthony Hopkins (known for being Hannibal Lecter in several films, he was Don Diego de la Vega, the original Zorro in The Mask of Zorro; this actor has a list of credits that goes back to the 60s) is Odin, and Idris Elba (stars in the show Luther on television, was Krall in Star Trek Beyond, and dozens of other appearances [and there were brief rumors that he could be the next James Bond, but he has come out and said he will not]) is Heimdall. Josh Dallas (I know him better as David Nolan/Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time) is Fandral, Ray Stevenson (he was Porthos in the 2011 Three Musketeers) is Volstagg, and Clark Gregg is back as Agent Coulson and has a bit more to do in this film.
The film opens in New Mexico (tying it in to comments made in the previous Iron Man 2), with a group of astrophysicists (well, Darcy is not one, but she was the only applicant for the assistant position) investigating atmospheric disturbances. They drive towards weird lights in the sky, then something hits the earth. As Jane insists they get closer, they run into…something. They rush out of the truck and discover it’s a person.
Odin narrates a tale of yesteryear, how the Asgardians, led by Odin, beat back the Frost Giants when they tried to freeze the mortal realm, revealing that there are several realms and mortals believed at that time that these realms held some of their gods [this film gave me an interest in Norse mythology; I had already been interested in Vikings due to their ties to Britain, but I still have a lot of research left to do, hopefully to tie elements into my own fantasy book series]. They may now be relegated to man’s myths and legends, but it was Asgard that brought peace to the universe. The scene pans to Asgard, a shining realm and Odin is telling this tale to his two sons. One day, one of them will have to defend that peace. Young Thor dreams of battle and Odin cautions him that “a wise king never seeks out war, but he must always be ready for it.” Both boys are eager and Odin once again curbs their enthusiasm, stating only one may ascend the throne of Asgard, yet both were born to be kings (a bit of foreshadowing).
It appears that years have passed and there is now a great celebration going on [I love the inclusion of knotwork in the design, especially on Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir…there is a historical link between the Norse and the Celts, considering that the Vikings harried the Scottish northern coast for centuries]. While Thor is egging on the crowd, Odin is serious; this is the coronation of his heir and firstborn, who wields the hammer, Mjölnir, whose power is no equal, “it is a weapon to destroy or as a tool to build.” It is a fit companion for a king. He asks Thor to swear to guard the Nine Realms, preserve the peace, and cast aside all selfish ambition and pledge himself to the good of the realm. Before Odin can proclaim Thor king, he senses a security breach in the sacred vault; Frost Giants have broken in and attempt to steal back their glowing blue casket that is the source of their power. But a silver guard, the Destroyer, stops them. When Odin, Thor, and Loki investigate, Thor immediately wants to march into Jotunheim for answers, and to knock a few heads. Odin snaps that Thor is not king yet, and thus the decision is not his to make. Thor throws a tantrum in his chambers and Loki attempts to calm his brother, something that he has undoubtedly had to do in the past. He’s not entirely helpful since he tells Thor he’s right and they should go ask questions, but that would mean defying father. Thor thinks it is an excellent idea and drags his brother and his friends to visit Heimdall, who guards the Bifrost, the magical transport between realms.
Heimdall wants to know how these giants gained access because he sees all, except them. So he allows Thor and his friends through. Thor does not negotiate well with Laufey, who sees that this young prince only craves battle. Thor does not know what his actions will unleash, Laufey warns, as well as declaring that the House of Odin is full of traitors. Loki takes over negotiations and they are almost home free until Laufey insults Thor, who is ready to smash things with his hammer. A fight ensues, and Volstagg [who reminds me of a Tolkien-esque dwarf…probably on purpose considering that Tolkien’s inspiration for the Dwarves were from the Norse sagas…more on that when we reach the Hobbit movies] warns his friends not to be touched by the Frost Giants; their touch burns. Yet, when Loki is grabbed by one, his skin turns blue, then back to normal. But no time to ponder that because Laufey has released a large beast that chases Thor’s friend while they attempt to retreat after Fandral has been wounded. Thor continues to take out giants, then runs his hammer through the beast’s mouth, killing him. But they’re still surrounded, until Odin arrives on an eight-legged horse [Sleipnir, according to legend. And also according to legend, Loki’s son…not sure how that works out in the MCU]. Thor cheers, figuring his father is there to lead the battle. Odin silences him and treats with Laufey; these were the actions of a boy (not a man, not a prince, not a would-be king), treat them as such. And Laufey still fears Odin at this moment, so the Asgardians return home, under the threat of war. Odin dismisses Thor’s friends and speaks to Thor. Thor insists that the Jotun must learn to fear him, just as they feared Odin. Odin retorts, “that is pride and vanity speaking, not leadership.” Thor tries to argue back, that their status as fallen because of peace, Odin interrupts, “you are a vain, greedy, cruel boy!” “And you are an old man and a fool!” Thor shouts back. Odin takes a moment, yes, he was a fool, for thinking Thor was ready. Loki attempts to intercede on Thor’s behalf, but Odin dismisses him with a growl [which actually startled Tom, since it was not in the script. This is stunning acting on Anthony Hopkins’ part.] Odin declares Thor unworthy, of the realms, of his title, and of the loved ones he has betrayed (and note how the camera turns to Loki at that moment). Odin strips his son of his cloak, and of Mjölnir and his power. He casts Thor out. Then commands the hammer “whosoever hold this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor,” and sends it after his son.
These brings us back to Jane and her friends hitting Thor, who is very confused and yelling strange things at the sky, like hammer and Heimdall. Darcy is freaked out and tases Thor (which is a bit hilarious). Jane is distracted by the markings in the dirt, but Erik talks her in to taking the strange young man to the hospital. (They don’t see the hammer crash down a little way away.) When Thor initially wakes up, he tries to wreak havoc, until he’s tranquilized and strapped down. Jane and her friends attempt to analyze the pictures of what they saw last night, mentioning an Einstein-Rosen bridge; essentially a wormhole. She realizes she’s looking at another dimension and that the strange man is her best piece of evidence, so they have to find him. He’s escaped the hospital, but not far, because she manages to back into him. They clothe Thor [and we admire a shirtless Chris Hemsworth] and get him food; though his manners leave a bit to be desired. At the same time, the hammer has created a crater that some townsmen have found and decided to see who can pull it out of the ground (a la the sword in the stone situation…hmmm…) (and our Stan Lee cameo).
Meanwhile, in Asgard, Thor’s friends and Loki discuss current events. Loki reveals that he was the one who had ordered a guard to go to Odin, but obviously he was late, because the plan was to never arrive at Jotunheim. And he never dreamed that Odin would banish Thor, and he loves his brother more dearly that the others. Nevertheless, Thor is reckless and dangerous. Loki storms out. Sif comments that Loki speaks of love, but he’s always been jealous of Thor, and they begin thinking Loki may be responsible; he’s prone to mischief. Loki finds the Jotun’s blue casket and it begins to turn him blue again. Odin discovers him and Loki demands answers. Is he cursed? No. What am I? He is Odin’s son. What more? The casket was not the only thing Odin took from Jotunheim that day. No; when Odin entered the temple, he found an abandoned baby, small for a giant’s offspring; and we see the babe change its appearance to mimic Odin’s. Laufey’s son, incidentally. Loki doesn’t believe that Odin brought him home simply because he was an innocent child, not when he’s the same monster that parents warn their children of; or was it to be held prisoner until Odin has use of him? Yes, Odin had a purpose: he wanted a permanent alliance with Laufey and though Loki could be that bridge, but it doesn’t matter now, not after what Thor has started. Loki resents that Odin never told him; too hurt to realize that Odin viewed him as a son, he simply remembers not being as good as Thor, feeling that Odin had always favored Thor and this must be the reason why [a superb performance by Tom…this is why we love him]. Odin protests that Loki is twisting Odin’s words, then collapses. Loki calls for help. Later, while Odin is sleeping, he questions his mother why he was never told. She reiterates that they always viewed Loki as their son and simply wanted to love and protect him. And there has always been a purpose to what Odin has done. Loki is taking on the mantle of king and denies his friends’ plea to bring Thor back. His first command cannot be to undo Odin’s last. (We don’t believe that and neither do his friends.)
Back on Earth, the feds show up at the crater and lock it down. Jane, Thor, Darcy, and Erik hear about it, after Thor demands more coffee by throwing down his mug. Thor realizes that the crater holds his hammer and he must retrieve it. Jane wants to follow, but Erik warns her off. They shortly discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. is at their lab, confiscating her research. So Jane finds Thor, who makes the deal that once he has his hammer, he will get Jane’s things back. Thor enters the compound as a storm brews (he is the god of thunder, after all). He easily takes on any guards that are sent his way, though he doesn’t kill him. When the last one steps in front of him, he comments, “you’re big. Fought bigger.” Coulson calls from someone to get up high and keep on eye on their intruder. A man, Barton, we hear, grabs a bow, then drawls to Coulson that he’s starting to root for their intruder as he takes out guards. But Coulson holds on his call, wanting to see what Thor does when he finds the hammer. Thor pulls on the handle and the hammer doesn’t budge. He shouts to the raining sky and sinks to the mud. He’s docile as he’s taken into custody and Jane quietly calls for Erik to pick her up. She persuades Erik to go get Thor, arguing that while Thor may speak of magic, magic has been called a precursor to science. Erik has heard of S.H.I.E.L.D. through a colleague and knows they’re not to be trifled with, but he will help Jane. And get Thor to leave.
Coulson questions Thor, believing him to be a mercenary, but Thor doesn’t answer. When Coulson steps away, Loki appears. Then lies to his brother, saying that Odin is dead and their mother has forbidden Thor’s return. Thor is broken-hearted and does not fight. Loki makes his own attempt to lift the hammer and fails, though he maintains his illusion so no mortals spot him. This is when Erik picks up Thor, then takes him drinking in hopes of getting Thor to leave. Thor willingly drinks with the man, then has to carry him back to Jane’s place. “He drank, he fought, he made his ancestors proud,” Thor proclaims, then spends a quiet evening with Jane. He brought her notebook back and encourages her to continue her research; it’s right. There are other realms out there. Nine, according to Thor, who explains the Yggdrasill, the World’s Tree, that connects all of them.
Loki is still plotting in Asgard; he visits Jotunheim and promises Laufey that he will sneak him in and he will be able to slay Odin while he sleeps. And yes, it was Loki who had snuck the few Frost Giants in to ruin Thor’s big day. It was his way of protecting the realm from Thor’s rule. Meanwhile, Thor’s friends decide to come get Thor and Heimdall helps, simply by not being the one to open the Bifrost. He’s been keeping an eye on Thor. Loki realizes what is going on and sends the Destroyer to keep Thor from returning. Thor is thrilled to see his friends (Sif and the Warriors Three…which a SHIELD agent comments that they look like they came from a Renaissance Faire…he’s got a point [considering I have friends who have dressed up as various Avengers and attended faire as a group, “Thor” even threw his mug down and demanded another]), but argues he cannot come home. Then he discovers Loki’s lies. S.H.I.E.L.D. briefly wonders if the Destroyer is one of Stark’s until is blasts them. Thor will stay with Jane to help evacuate the town; he does not have the power to help his friends, so they will be the distraction (which involves tossing the “dwarf”). Sif runs the Destroyer through with a spear and all is well for a moment, until it turns its entire body and continues blasting.
Back in Asgard, Loki freezes Heimdall so he can get the Frost Giants in. Heimdall realizes that Loki has found secret paths that Heimdall cannot see and that is how he has arranged his plot. Thor, to stop the carnage, faces the Destroyer alone and speaks to his brother, apologizing for whatever wrong he has done. He offers his life instead. The Destroyer smacks Thor, sending him flying. Jane rushes to him and believe our hero has died. Until Odin’s words echo: whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor. The hammer flies to Thor and he regains his armor and power. And yes, Jane, Oh. My. God, is correct. The battle is short after that, Thor plowing the hammer through the Destroyer. But he and his friends must rush back to Asgard to stop Loki, though he promises to return for Jane. She pulls him in for a kiss before he goes, not settling for one of his kisses to her knuckles. Thor also got Coulson to return Jane’s things; they are all on the same side and she’ll need it to continue her research.
Heimdall breaks the freeze so he can get Thor and his friends back and Thor flies to the palace. Frigga, Odin’s wife, stands ready to defend her sleeping husband against the Frost Giants, though they knock her away after she takes out one. Laufey is eager to kill Odin, saying “your death comes at the hand of Laufey.” Loki blasts the king of the Frost Giants, and declares “and yours came by the son of Odin.” Frigga is thrilled to see Thor when he enters, then he reveals Loki’s treachery. They take their fight to the Bifrost, which Loki plans to use to destroy Jotunheim. Thor’s view has changed and he wants to stop Loki. He initially doesn’t wish to fight his brother, but Loki eggs him on until they begin exchanging blows. Loki accuses Thor of becoming weak, thanks to human Jane. He says he never wanted the throne, he just wanted to prove himself a worthy son to Odin, the equal of Thor. Thor declares this madness. “Is it?” Loki wonders (again, superb acting). Thor throws Loki on to the bridge, then places his hammer on him while he figures out what to do. Loki mocks, what can he do now with all his strength? Well, there is something Thor can do. He uses the hammer to smash the rainbow bridge to the Bifrost, destroying it, despite Loki’s protests that Thor will never be able to see Jane again. But it will save the realms. The blast knocks them both off the bridge; Thor grabs Loki and Odin grabs Thor. Loki pleads with their father, “I could have done it, father. For you.” Odin sadly says “no,” (not sure why, or what he’s referring to), but Loki lets go of Thor, who cries after his brother. Loki disappears into the swirling vortex.
Sif comments to Frigga later that Thor mourns his brother, and misses Jane. Thor speaks to Odin, saying that one day, he may make his father proud, but he still has a lot to learn. There has been no wiser king, nor better father than Odin, he says. Odin returns that Thor has already made him proud. Heimdall consoles his prince that Earth is not wholly lost to them, there is always hope. We see Jane continuing her research, no doubt trying to bring Thor to her.
The after credits scene is Erik meeting Fury, who shows him a glowing blue cube that combines legend and history. It is power and Fury wants Erik to study it. In the background, there is Loki, who is intrigued by this cube as well.
My feelings on this movie? If it’s not already apparent, I have a definite interest. I have learned that Marvel played a little fast and loose with typical Norse mythology; not that anyone would be surprised, considering the water downed version of Greek mythology Disney gave us in Hercules. Truly, the acting is superb, very emotional performances by the main cast. Anthony Hopkins shows us his range, from angry father, to worried king. His is a flawed character, to be expected from what little I’ve gleaned of mythology, evident when he tries to talk to Loki. Thor started as a truly arrogant warrior prince. Of course he can take on an army of Jotuns with just his four friends and younger brother. Even if you just take into account this film, Odin clearly saw enough of war and realized that peace was best for the Nine Realms and he is in charge of that. So for his oldest son to threaten that, to flounce the lessons he tried to instill. And Thor did grow. We can see that in how he treated Jane and her friends. At first, they are simply mortal servants. Then he helps make breakfast and will let his friends have the glorious battle while he gets innocent people to safety. He argues Sif away from death in battle; live and tell those stories yourself, he encourages her. He became worthy of his title and strength; a great message. And we get some funny scenes of Thor not being so mighty, like getting tased.
And yes, I’ve grown to love Loki, partly because Tom Hiddleston is an adorable human being from what we’ve seen. He comes across as a cool operator, showing one face while thinking or plotting something else, but in the presence of those he loves, he will breakdown. He demands the truth from his father and then battles for what he feels is his rightful place that was denied him with his stronger older brother. He doesn’t truly begin to outright lie until later in the movie. He may manipulate and as Fandral comments, he’s been one for mischief, but not treason. As most villains go, he’s fine until he reaches a breaking point. And that was discovering his ancestry. Yet, he still wants to be a hero. He wants to save his father and this is all about proving himself to Odin. He delayed Thor’s coronation because he felt Thor is not right for the kingdom and if he shows their father Thor sneaking to Jotunheim, Thor will be demoted and Loki will ascend. His final words before he falls is he was doing it all for Odin. Odin may have said no because he feels that Loki did this all for Loki, but we do witness later that Loki and Thor were honest brothers. There was no question as they were children. There was love and happiness at one time.
Again, I applaud the performances. As I saw commented somewhere, most likely Pintrest, Thor beautifully balanced magic in the real world. They exist separately, but this one brings them together without jarring. (Which is something I am striving for as I work on my fantasy series.) The arcs are great in this movie, but we can tell that they are really starting to build to something else.
I can make the recommendation to read The Witch’s Heart by new author Genevieve Gornichec (a fairly local woman that I heard about through the faire grapevine), which involves Loki. I will hold off on fanfic recommendation until we’re further into the universe since they all start melding together.
Next Time: Captain America: The First Avenger