Fixing Comic Book Movies: Thor

There have been some pretty good comic book movies, but no perfect ones. In this series I’m putting superhero movies under the microscope and seeing what went wrong, what went right and what could have gone better.

Overview

I actually own this movie on DVD and I’ve never watched it. I saw it in the theater and was surprised by how much I liked it. And yet every time I consider watching it, it seems like a chore.

What Went Right?

Whoever designed the costumes for this movie is a genius. They somehow managed to translate about 60 percent of the logistically impossible Jack Kirby fashion designs into real world clothes. Like Loki’s ridiculous rams horns and the four circles on Thor’s shirt (what are those supposed to be, anyway?) look surprisingly plausible.

Otherwise, when the movie goes hardcore goofball and becomes a cliff’s notes version of a Lord of the Rings movie, it’s pretty fun.

Also, I love that they had him do some goofy hammer tricks like the comics.

What Went Wrong

They should not have come to earth until the last five minutes of the movie. Everything about Thor on earth is lazy and dumb, except for when he drinks beer. That shit was hilarious.

Fish out of water stories where the water is contemporary America are the worst. How is it funny if someone’s never seen a MacDonald’s before? Really, it just serves as a depressing highlight of how mediocre contemporary society is.

Casting

The guy playing Thor was fine. He really just had to be big and loud and he did that OK. And Loki was pretty cool, I guess. I think when I read comic books I always thought that he talked like the Monarch on the Venture Brothers (high pitched and cackling EVILLLLLLLLLL), so having him be a smooth dude was a little jarring. The jaunty viking gods who fight alongside Thor were good and Stringer Bell made the most of what was really a nothing role. Otherwise, though…

First, unless she’s playing a ballerina going crazy, Natalie Portman is garbage as an actress. It’s a farce that she’s playing a scientist. I don’t think she could handle making creating the chemical reaction necessary to make a latte. And while Kat Dennings is an indie rock sex bomb, her sitcom smart aleck routine feels like an offer for a jaeger shot when you have the flu. I’m not sure when Anthony Hopkins became so terrible, but his combination of sleepwalking and overacting feels like it belongs in the ‘70s Flash Gordon movie.

Source Material

In the comics, Thor talks how like how people who have never read Shakespeare think Shakespeare sounds like. Every sentence he speaks larded with words like “verily,” thee” and “thou.” It’s irritating. Why would he even know English in the first place? Shouldn’t he speak some ancient, lost Nordic dialect?

But also, it’s always been weird that Thor is a god and a superhero. The movie kind of dances around the problem by saying the Norse gods are really aliens the Vikings mistook for gods and that science is magic. I’ll give them points for trying, but it doesn’t really work.

The Hero Problem

Nothing, other than how he’s sort of boring. Also, it’s kind of weird that he gets into trouble for fighting and then also redeems himself by fighting.

Story Problem

As stated above, the Borat element of the movie—zany foreigner comes to America—is tedious. However, a Funny or Die sketch mixing the two called “Thorat” would be AMAZING.

Solutions

Keep it on Asgard. Tell the same story, only minus the parts where Thor is banished to earth. That’s most of the movie as it stands now, so then you trump up the courtroom intrigue and have more scenes of Thor fighting frost giants and whatnot. Then, at the end, Thor sacrifices himself and winds up stranded on Earth, where the Avengers are waiting for him.

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