One of the best things that Marvel Studios has done is delving into the cosmic side of the universe. Today, when we think of cosmic MCU, we tend to think of “Guardians of The Galaxy,” but it was Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” that made Baby Groot possible. After three installments kicking off the franchise, Marvel Studios shook it up a bit and started the cosmic side with “Thor.”
After revisiting the film, there is one major issue that most people seem to agree on, and that’s some of the casting choices. Everyone on Asgard was perfectly cast but it was some of the characters on earth that didn’t work. Jane Foster, portrayed by Natalie Portman, is, unfortunately, the worst casting decision in the entire 11 year run in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Natalie Portman has proven herself in the past by being nominated for three Oscars while winning one for her role in Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” The problem is that there is no chemistry between Thor and Jane, not to mention that she has zero purpose for contributing to the overall narrative.
The other character that didn’t work was Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis. As with Jane Foster, Darcy’s character didn’t really do anything for the narrative but at least this scientist group was saved by Stellen Skarsgard’s Erik Selvig character. Although he didn’t do much, at least he did what he could with the script that was given to him. The one character that was underutilized was Heimdal, who was portrayed magnificently by Idris Elba. He played that role in such a stoic manner, but you still knew he was a noble and honorable servant to the King of Asgard.
As for Thor, Chris Hemsworth does a fantastic job by adding a form of heroism to the role. His comedic timing is also quite well while also portraying the dramatic moments when called for. Anthony Hopkins as Odin is probably the most powerful element in “Thor.” The way Hopkins displays himself truly sets home how powerful he is without seeing him in action. His back-and-forth with Hemsworth is so heart-warming and at times heart-wrenching. Tom Hiddleston also does a great job as Loki in this film and has done a fantastic job ever since. Even though he looks the part, seeing the merciless and how cunning he can be, immediately made him a fan-favorite in the MCU.
Whenever the action is taking place, it’s extremely entertaining and well-choreographed. Seeing Thor and company tear down frost giants in Jotunheim during the first act of the film introduces Thor’s powers very well. Although Thor doesn’t do too much until the third act (once he gets his powers back) it’s still exciting to see Thor in action against the Destroyer and Loki.
One other major thing that didn’t work in this film was the overuse of Dutch angles. Although Kenneth Branaugh did a fantastic job of directing the film, the choice to use Dutch angles in literally every other scene was overkill and really hurt the film and no doubt took audiences out of it. The creative choice to use a desert for the setting on earth was an excellent parallel to the breathtaking visuals of Asgard by creating an excellent contrast. When everybody said an Iron Man film wouldn’t work, it did. Whenever people said Asgard wouldn’t work on-screen, it did. And we got that first shot of Asgard, it was breathtaking. The filmmakers treated Thor’s home as a character and you could certainly feel that throughout.
Although this film isn’t perfect, it remains one of the most underrated superhero films to date. The film has an interesting premise that unfortunately split audiences. Most people didn’t like how the film treated Thor while others actually respected the chosen path for the son of Asgard. Upon seeing this film, you can see what was done with Thor by taking his power by making him “human,” which is very reminiscent of Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2.”
There’s an incredible moment where Odin delivers this incredible monologue to Thor just before he banishes him to earth. You realize he didn’t do this to hurt his son, but he wanted Thor to become “worthy” of being heir to the King of Asgard. At this point, the story begins to shine and it’s really about Thor and his journey rather than comic book goodness. By making him human by stripping his powers, you can relate better with him and it feels rewarding once he does become worthy by the end of the film.
This film didn’t work for everybody in 2011, nor would it today in 2019, but rest assured, this film is special and is well-deserving as a rewatch. As long as you can get past the atrocious Jane Foster character, this film is actually quite enjoyable mixed in with some emotional moments between Thor and Odin, Loki’s internal conflict of being singled out, or even the action set-pieces. Either way, it remains one of the most underrated comic book films in recent time.