Okay. A bit sketchy theologically, but I’ll buy it.
And the darkness had no personality. Or character arc.
In short, it did not work as a bad guy.
In short, it did not work as a bad guy.
First time I saw it, I didn’t like the prievious Thor movie. Then I grew up, watched it again, and thought, “Hey, this is a good movie. This transcends superhero movies.”
It had a number of things in its favor.
- It was directed by Kenneth Branagh.
- To offset its necessarily over-solemn Norse god feel, we spent a lot of time in a small town interacting with ordinary people. Utilizing this idea to far more effect than Iron Man 3, this link to the commonplace grounded the film firmly on, ha ha, Planet Earth. It didn’t take itself too seriously. Thor the god of thunder was spotted in a T-shirt. Thor the movie could’ve been corny as all get-out. Instead it was amusing, moving, and possibly even a little deep (for a superhero movie.)
- While Thor’s friends were completely one-dimensional, Jane, Erik, and Darcy acted as fun, interesting, quirky companions to the larger-than-life Chris Hemsworth.
- Tom Hiddleston.
- At its core, Thor was a movie about virtue. Thor starts off as an arrogant, spoiled brat, and learns through suffering wisdom, self-sacrifice, and humility. In a twist on the classic western show-down, Thor does something Clint Eastwood would never have done—lay down his weapons. Unlike most superheroes, Thor is allowed to have human connections, and not be the eternally isolated loner who will sacrifice nothing.
- Loki ought to have been the hero, by modern politically correct standards. He was snubbed, looked down on, and, on top of it all, an adopted frost giant. He’s the underdog. He’s got low self-esteem. But for once, the underdog is the villain. We empathize with Loki, but we don’t condone his actions. We think, instead of: “Oh, poor Loki’s had a rough childhood” – “Loki’s had a rough childhood. But he should rise above his circumstances.” It’s the ultimate reversal of the entitlement mindset.
So how is Thor 2?
- Not directed by Kenneth Branagh.
- Set mostly in Asgard, or others of the nine realms, or glitzy modern London. While moments of blissfully usual life creep through, they are few and far between. Also, we’re supposed to take Chris Hemsworth’s accent seriously. And his poncho.
- Thor’s friends are still one-dimensional, which is made worse because one of them is supposed to be a rival love interest. Darcy and the new arrival Ian the Intern were mildly amusing at times. Erik was actually funny, in a slapstick sort of way.
- Tom Hiddleston is still awesome. Even when he’s playing Captain America. (You just have to see it.)
- At its core, Thor 2 is a movie about rebellion (something new, please?). Odin isn’t all-wise, after all. Sure, I know he’s not actually a god, but he stood in as a god figure in the first film, and this fall from wisdom isn’t justifiable by the plot. At most it could be construed as a morality tale: “power corrupts.” Which totally undoes the first movie’s premise – yes, power corrupts, but humility is the only way to combat it. See Samwise Gamgee. Loki makes a joke that Thor wants to solve all his problems by punching things. Well, in this film, he can.
- Christopher Eccleston may’ve been great as The Doctor, but between hiding behind an alien mask, having his voice distorted almost beyond recognition, and having to ramble on about the darkness taking over the world, Malekith is unmemorable. And the whole dark elf idea, complete with five-minute prologue where the good guys beat the bad guys way back when, was a total Lord of the Rings rip-off.
That said, it has its moments. Despite my bone-deep cynicism, there were several things I didn’t seem coming from a mile, and amid the ridiculously grim plot, moments of levity—mostly due to the chemistry between Hemsworth and Hiddleston—made me sink back into my seat, kick back, and think, this is pretty fun.
Fun, but I’d sign a petition to Bring Back Branagh in a second.