I never found Thor to be a cool superhero, though technically he’s more of a God than a superhero. I know him (or is it Him?) from cameos in comics like Spider-man. A god of thunder waving around a hammer surrounded by characters like Odin and Loki. But those were the late 80s and early 90s to me, a time when superhero movies not featuring a DC character sucked and even the DC characters started to star in crappy movies. Now it’s 2011 and since then we’ve had great movies based upon marvel characters. It started with the two X-Men movies followed by two Spider-Man movies. Ang Lee’s Hul movie might suck, but the Louis Letterier was way better. Iron Man was a truly pleasant surprise and I’m hearing good things about Captain America which I’ve yet to see.
Thor largely takes place out of the general Marvel Universe which is situated on Earth. Spider-man, Hulk, Iron Man or even Blade all are or once were human beings with human lives. Thor is a God from another realm, called Asgard and is the heir to the torn as he is the son of Odin. But Thor is reckless and arrogant and in no way fit to be king. Then again it’s not really a surprise he’s this way, as demonstrated in an early action sequence he alone is able to kill many Frost monsters, a species from another realm with which Odin has a truce, without a hassle. But his actions force Odin to deny his son the throne and cast him out to Earth without his powers and his trusty hammer. Here he must reinvent himself while in the meantime his brother Loki is planning to take the throne himself.
The realm of Asgard, as well as the realm of the Frost Giants are computer generated. The realm of these Frost Giants is called Jotenheim, which to me sounded much like the Dutch word for Jews; Joden. Is there a Nazi subtext going on here?*
But these realms, all three if you include Earth, limit themselves to one location. On Earth a small backlot in a studio trying to resemble a town in New Mexico, on Asgard the Royal palace and on Jotenheim, well basically Jotenheim is one frozen wasteland so there’s not much variety in the scenery. All the outdoor shots of the realms never seem alive, only the indoor shots. It all looks beautiful, just never convincing.
Though based on Shakespearean stories a lot of the movie revolves around Thor being a fish out of the water. Sent to Earth without his divine powers he’s a mere mortal who constantly blabs otherworldly lines like “You dare threaten the son of Odin with such a puny weapon…?” and throwing a mug on the floor after drinking the coffee. He must have confused new Mexico with Greece. These scenes felt old to me, as we’ve seen them in dozens of movies and TV shows before.
I found Thor to be somewhat uneven. There are a few good action scenes but the movie tries to cover to much ground and has too many characters running around in no less than three worlds. Thor would have improved if it would just focus on the main character instead of cramming all these people. Characters like the friends of Thor and just one scientist instead of three could have been sufficient.
It makes me long back to the days of Universal Soldier. The low-key action movie starring Jean-Claude van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, directed by Roland Emmerich before he started to destroy landmarks . If featured one Thor-like character hooking up with a female helper and one bad-ass bad guy. Most of the movies from that day were pretty straightforward like that, and maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.