On our talkbacks here at FSR we’ve been seeing a certain lack of excitement for Marvel’s Thor movie they hope to adapt and bring to the screen within a couple of years. When it was announced Kenneth Branagh was to be attached to the project, a comment read “Thor has a giant dingdong” (which, I suppose could be a positive thing, depending on who the FSR talkbacker was who wrote it). There have also been some Thor fans coming to his rescue, especially when FSR’s Mister Hand wrote “This is a really stupid hero, in my humble opinion. Okay, maybe he’s not stupid, but I certainly didn’t connect with the guy at all.”
Makes sense, right? He’s a god, for heaven’s sake, how are we supposed to “identify” with a god? But on the same note, people connect with Superman and the Hulk, so why not Thor? FSR talkbacker “Gregg” defended Thor from Mister Hand’s blistering rhetoric by responding “Even if the old comics sucked, they’ve redone him after his disappearance in the Avengers Disassembled series and maybe the new story line will give some creative material for the movie. Also, don’t forget where he’s from and who he’s related to. Asgard, Odin and Loki, all good plot devices.”
So there’s obviously some disagreement on the Thor movie front. Screenwriter Mark Protosevich explained his film as “a superhero origin story, but not one about a human gaining super powers, but of a god realizing his true potential. It’s the story of an Old Testament god who becomes a New Testament god.” Maybe it’s the theological aspects of the character that are turning people off. Maybe it’s the fact that the hero resembles Fabio in metal or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian. Whatever the reason, there has to be some solid support for the character since he’s been in existence for over 45 years. There’s got to be something to root for in a movie about Thor. In fact, I bet there’s five things to root for.
1. He’s a major part of the Avengers: Remember, Marvel is ramping up towards a huge Avengers project, so films like Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor are only serving to get the character introductions out of the way. Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk had cameos by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey, Jr. (respectively) all but setting up the promise of an Avengers team. In fact, the first ever Avengers publication had Loki as its major villain, using his trickery to lull the Hulk into fighting Thor. It doesn’t work the way Loki intends and heroes such as Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man decide that they work together well, thus forming The Avengers. And while it seems that the films have taken the “Avenger Initiative” angle, indicating that it will be a superhero team put together by S.H.I.E.L.D., some aspects of this origin story could still remain intact.
2. He won’t be “Thor” 100% of the time: It would be hard for Marvel to sell us a god-like figure wielding a big-ass hammer for 2 hours on film. But just like The Incredible Hulk had a solid performance by Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Thor could benefit from a good leading-man playing Donald Blake, the body Thor inhabits when he comes to Earth. There have been rumors that Brad Pitt and Kevin McKidd (“Rome”) were cast, but neither has been substantiated. But if you can get a guy to play physically handicapped medical student Donald Blake (my vote is a good, young actor like Vincent Kartheiser from Mad Men or a more established Hollywood actor like Joseph Gordon-Levitt — I just won’t stop throwing Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s name in superhero chatter until he finally agrees to do one. And I don’t count the upcoming G.I. Joe in this sentiment), who then could change back and forth into Thor, I think that may work.
3. Godly characters = Epic battles: Gregg was right. If Branagh, or whoever is directing, shows us Asgard, it could be an awesome film. Throw in Thor’s godly father Odin and his main villain Loki, who also happens to be his brother, and you can build some serious drama leading up to some intensely epic action sequences. And if Branagh is in fact doing it, we have to remember that this is a guy whose directed Shakespeare successfully on film. Showing Hamlet’s relationship with his uncle, or Iago’s hatred of Othello may not be much different than showing two Marvel gods going head-to-head. Besides, bringing this element into an Avengers movie may be necessary, because….
4. Bigger villains: As much as I liked Iron Man, Jeff Bridges wasn’t a very satisfying villain (Tim Roth as the Abomination in The Incredible Hulk wasn’t really that great, either.) I know that the first film was used to set up that there’s a bigger villain in Mandarin, but Thor brings monsters, gods, and other-worldly beings to the table. With the Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America on board already, there’s not many villains that would stand a chance. Bring in some Asgardian villains, throw in a vengeful god in Odin, and you’ve got an Avengers team who would meet their match.
5. He may not be so super, after all: There’s no proof that the Thor movie will take this angle, but the Ultimate Marvel Thor is a man who many think is crazy because he claims to be this “Norse God.” The story is about a man who spends 18 months institutionalized thinking he has godly powers and has been sent to Earth to save humans. He’s also an activist and anti-military. This story also has Nick Fury in it, so Samuel L. Jackson could be given a larger role in a film as Marvel ramps upward toward Avengers, where he’ll no doubt be a major character. Besides, when screenwriter Protosevich talks about a god “realizing his powers,” then him not even knowing who he is for half the movie could be fun to watch.
Bottom line: There’s more to Thor than a guy in viking-ware who wields a big ol’ hammer. There’s at least enough of a history and storyline to get comic-book movie fans excited, and a call for Thor fans to come out and defend their boy.
Talking Point: Do you think a Thor movie could work? What would you like to see as they build up to an eventual Avengers movie?