Stryker’s Cinema Series- Marvel Cinematic Universe: Thor (2011)

Thor Trailer

Today, in this edition of the Stryker Cinema Series, we take a look at the Chris Hemsworth-lead movie, Thor. We are looking back and re-reviewing all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, leading up to the release of Captain Marvel. Check out the previous film reviews from this series here.

Thor is the fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Arguably the most star-studded cast that any of the MCU films have had outside of the Avengers films. The film was released on May 6th, 2011 with a budget of $150 Million. It continued the box office dominance of the Marvel Studios as it pulled in $449.4 million dollars worldwide. It’s produced by Kevin Feige, and directed by Kenneth Branagh. Thor is the biggest tonal shift in the MCU up to this point and really takes a dynamic turn into refreshing territory.

Out of the films I re-reviewed for this series, all of them have been just about how I remember them being. For the most part, I’ve accurately rated each film, that is until Thor. Thor is better than I remembered, and I think it doesn’t get enough credit as far as one of the top films of the series. The cast of this film might be the best in any single Marvel movie. The film is far more humorous than I think it gets credit for. Obviously not as funny as one of its predecessors, but it picks it’s spots, and capitalizes well on the comedic moments. It ties into other Marvel movies well, as there is a moment revisited from prior movies, and side characters who would be a bigger deal in future films.

There are several characters in this film who have a major impact on the MCU, especially as pertains the phase one portion. Heimdal is played by Idris Elba is perfect as the no-nonsense keeper of the Bifrost bridge, a connector that allows Asgardians to travel between the other realms. His loyalty to the throne and to Thor really helps set up the whole hierarchy of Asgard. Also having this level of actor helps legitimize this character in the larger universe. Another character that helps legitimize this film, it having Anthony Hopkins star as Odin. Widely regarded as one of the best actors of all-time, having him to play a big-time character in the MCU shows just howearly on Kevin Feige knew what he was building. Stellan Skarsgard is another big-time actor who ends up playing a major part in the Avengers film. He does a great job bridging the gap between Thor and the Earth cast, helping to relay information about who Thor is and his mythos to the other characters in the film. Natalie Portman rounds out the cast of actors who come with extensive Hollywood resumes that lend far more “cred” to this movie than maybe initially intended.

The main villain of this film is Loki, played by Hiddleston, a villain whose thumbprints end up all over the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After watching this film again, I forgot how complex of a villain Loki is. His motivation seems justified, as he has a very apparent ‘little brother complex.’ He wants to be seen as Thor’s equal and concocts a massive scheme to prove to Odin he’s worthy of the Throne. Tom Hiddleston plays the most dynamic villain to date perfectly. We see Loki start out as a loyal son and brother, but quickly find that the god of mischief lives up to his name. While not as physically imposing as Thor, Loki uses is intellect to trick the events of the film into motion. Hiddleston definitely knocks this character out of the park, and sets up the climax for phase one perfectly.

Chris Hemsworth really shines as the God of Thunder in this film. His journey throughout this movie, leading to Avengers, is far different from the other Avengers origin stories we’d seen so far. With the other Avengers, we’ve seen them all come to terms with their powers, in order to get their powers. In this film, Thor is Thor, he already has all the powers. The personal conflict of the movie is actual Thor’s personal growth as a person. In the beginning, he is far closer to an arrogant frat boy, who doesn’t understand that there are consequences for his actions. Similar to an old school war movie, it isn’t until they get in the thick of battle that they realize that it isn’t as glamorous as they’ve been lead to believe. It isn’t until he finds something worth fighting for in Jane Foster (Portman) that he realizes what it means to be a hero. He begins to understand how to use his powers in a positive manner.

This film sets up a lot of the mystical lore in the MCU extremely well. More importantly, it sets up the next film and introduces several more fantastical elements that will help with accepting a few of the things that happen in the next film. I would highly recommend watching this movie again as it does a great job setting up the first Avengers film. There are several more elements and the main villain that you get to know in this film, and like I said before, this film is way better than you’d remember, in addition to also feeling a lot quicker moving than other Marvel films.

Stan Lee Cameo: Truck driver trying to move Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir.

End Credit Scene: Nick Fury shows Dr Selvig the Tesseract.

Up Next: Captain America – The First Avenger