This week’s Agents of SHIELD is going to be a tie-in to the Thor movie (due to the evil genius of Marvel, probably). So, yes, I fell for the obvious marketing ploy and went to see the movie in theaters. I admit it, I’m guilty. I’m ashamed.
Verdict: This was good, stupid fun.
This movie actually gives me some hope for the future of superhero movies, which I was starting to lose after Iron Man 3 and The Wolverine. It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t great, but it was solidly entertaining. It went by fast–I barely noticed the passage of time. The plot holes don’t grate that much, because the movie clearly isn’t meant to be taken seriously. There are only a few dramatic moments, and they don’t last long.
The plot concerns the Dark Elves, an ancient enemy of Asgard, and their attempts to take control of a destructive weapon (the Aether) that ends up inside Thor’s girlfriend, Jane. Now, Thor has to get the Aether out of Jane before it kills her, without letting the Dark Elves get their hands on it.
As expected, the interaction between Loki and Thor was fantastic. We didn’t get nearly enough of it, but it easily made for the best parts of the movie. It was mostly played for comedy (brilliantly). Loki’s obvious mockery paired with Thor bullheadedly ignoring him made for a great dynamic.
I really wish that Loki was given a stronger focus, since he had so much more character development to go through, and so much more room to change, than Thor. When he started taking certain actions, it came out of nowhere, because we didn’t get to follow his development. I can’t help but wonder if we couldn’t have had more Loki development instead of some of the more jarring rom-com scenes.
Jane Foster in Asgard was odd. The complexity of getting transported to a mythical place populated by powerful near-immortals was barely even touched, and Jane certainly didn’t act like she even remotely understood what that meant–She should have been smart enough not to even think about talking back to someone from a god-like warrior race.
Hint: If an unknown Asgardian warrior compares you to a goat at a banquet table, it’s entirely possible he is very powerful and can kill you painfully. You’re in his territory and not even remotely in a position of strength–this is not the time to challenge him in any way.
Also, what was with all the slapping?
There were a couple of instances where the plot obviously needed to go in a particular direction, and so characters took actions that were nonsensical. For instance:
1. Thor’s brilliant strategy to take the thing your enemy is looking for away from somewhere defensible and filled with warriors who can protect it. Bring it right out into the open. (By “it”, I mean the Aether, not Jane.)
2. Thor’s mother, Frigga, seems to realize pretty quickly that the enemy storming her home is after Jane. So what does she do? Take Jane somewhere obvious to confront them. In fairness, she makes sure they can’t get their hands on Jane. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to take Jane somewhere the enemy wouldn’t be looking for her?
The action was fine. The idea for the ending fight was brilliant–falling through different realms in the middle of the battle because of all the invisible portals between them? That sounds amazing. The execution was decent.
And back to the comedy, since that was the most important part of the movie–So, is this a thing now? After the Avengers movie, are all Marvel movies going to try to be funny and filled with jokes?
The Avengers balanced comedy and drama very well, even within the same scene. But that was because Joss Whedon is good at this. It’s part of his style.
Imitating this just because it was successful before, is a lot like playing to someone else’s strengths. It’s bound to produce mixed results. Iron Man 3 veered way too much into constant puns and made jokes out of things that should have been treated seriously–essentially, it made jokes at the expense of the story.
Thor 2 did a much better job handling its jokes–they were funnier, and they were generally more appropriate. And we weren’t bored by generic jokes that could be inserted anywhere. These jokes belonged in this story.
The comedy did happen at the expense of the drama. But the plus side is that the movie didn’t overreach itself. Glossing over the dramatic moments quickly let it get away with a lot of things that wouldn’t work in a more serious movie. It was just meant to be an entertaining ride, and it succeeded there.
Side note: Captain America’s “cameo” was wonderful, and it’s fun to watch the actor get to take a different style–I found him totally believable in this role.
EDIT: Norse mythologist Karl Seigfried answers questions about the Thor movie seen through a Norse cultural lens.