After watching the first season of Loki on Disney+ (highly recommended!), I realized I barely remembered the events of the first Thor movie in which Loki was introduced. Plot points from the film are mentioned several times in the show, so I decided to rewatch it, and just for kicks write a full-on recap – an activity that is particularly fun when the film being recapped isn’t great art. Spoiler: Thor is not great art, and there be some snark below, but nothing too mean. I’ve added some summary thoughts as well at the end. Click here to skip to them if you’re interested in more of a review than a blow-by-blow account of what happens in the movie.
Night. An isolated van idles in the New Mexico desert. Three white folks – two women and one man – look skyward expectantly while one fiddles with instruments. First words (from Jane): “Wait for it.” There it is: a weird bluish glow in the sky. She yells, “Go!” and the other woman floors it. Jane hangs out the passenger side window with a video camera, then also grabs the wheel to point them into the tornado-like cloud that has appeared, as one obviously would do while driving a vehicle containing expensive scientific equipment and two other people, one of whom is complaining, “I am not dying for six college credits!” They plunge into the dust storm, where they promptly hit a person who has appeared out of nowhere. Jane jumps out of the van, leans over the prostrate body and says, “Do me a favor and don’t be dead!” Then she wonders, “Where did he come from?”
Cue voiceover by legend of stage and screen Anthony Hopkins as dark bluish CGI of “Tonsberg, Norway – 965 AD” materializes before us… Once, humans believed in other worlds populated by gods and other beings to be feared. Frost giants threatened to bring a new ice age to Earth! Odin and Asgardian grunts beamed down to help out the humans. Big battle. Odin lost an eye. The frost giants were driven back to their world and “the source of their power” was taken back to Asgard. The blue past fades and we see that Odin is telling this story to young Thor and Loki while walking down a hallway. Thor is enthusiastic about the thought of killing the last remaining frost giants. Odin tut tuts and says, “A wise king never seeks out war, but he must always be ready for it.” The children both say they are ready, and Odin says mysteriously, “Only one of you can ascend to the throne, but both of you were born to be kings.” I’m sure that won’t cause any unhealthy sibling rivalry or anything…
Fast forward an indeterminate amount of time to an adult Thor walking triumphantly through a cheering crowd in an overly CGI-ed throne room toward Odin, who is sitting on a dais. Shots of Sif, Frigga, and Odin all looking some version of exasperated or subtly disappointed as Thor fist pumps and cheers himself on. Odin begins to speak, mentioning Mjolnir’s provenance – forged from the heart of a dying star – and proclaiming Thor to be… what? We don’t know because he never finishes his sentence. He has sensed frost giants sneaking in downstairs. Rut roh!
Cut to below, where three shadowy intruders try to grab the glowing “source of power” from earlier but are incinerated by a metallic guardian Odin lets out of its enclosure with a pounding of his staff. He, Thor and Loki go down to the vault to see what’s what. Plenty of ice and dead people, but the Casket is still there. Thor is pissed and wants to invade Jotunheim in response to the attempted theft. Odin says the thieves are already dead, he has a truce with Laufey, and BT-dubs, Thor ain’t king yet. Loki watches this exchange wordlessly, though his eyebrows get quite a workout.
Back in the festival chamber, Thor is table flipping mad. Loki comes up behind him quietly (his sneaky feet entering the frame considerably before the rest of him), and Thor says it’s not a good time to hang out. “This was to be my day of triumph!” Loki speaks his first adult words: “It’ll come, in time.” The rest of the warband approach: Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg, Sif. Loki says, for the record, he agrees with Thor about what ought to be done, but Odin has said no. Suddenly, Thor brightens: he’s decided to defy his dad and go to Jotunheim anyway. After some minimal arm-twisting, his friends agree to go with him.
They ride on horseback across the Rainbow Bridge. Fancy CGI that is, again, a bit off putting in its perfection: Asgardian landscape shots of buildings halfway between H.R. Giger and giant church organs, sparkling waters, and a sky that can’t seem to decide if it’s day or night. Heimdall awaits them, looking statuesque. (Literally. He’s huge, motionless, and played by Idris Elba.) He is not happy about the frost giants getting past him earlier. He wants to know how it happened and is not in a mood to talk to Loki. Thor brashly steps forward and asks if they may pass. Heimdall allows it. They enter the sphere, and he puts his sword into a… lock? sheath? slot? to activate the Bifrost, which shoots out from a sort of tower attached to the sphere. He cautions them that he won’t let them return if that would mean Asgard being endangered. Thor says he doesn’t plan to die today and Heimdall says, “None do.” Buzzkill.
Bifrost travel is kind of like Star Trek warp travel, but with more rainbows. They shoot out on the other end far above a planet’s surface and land like meteorites. Good thing they’re practically invulnerable. Jotunheim: cold, dark, and full of unstable, crumbly columns. Hogun: “We shouldn’t be here.” I’m with you, guy. The place seems abandoned at first, and Thor thinks that means the frost giants are cowards. Then Laufey growls hello from a dark corner. Or is it a throne? Everything looks the same in this place. In answer to Thor’s question about who planned the theft earlier, all he’ll say is that Asgard is full of traitors. He also doesn’t think much of Odin – he calls him a murderer and a thief. Thor is getting steamy, but Loki sidles up to him and points out that a lot of giants have crawled out of the icework. A fight doesn’t seem wise. Laufey is grumpy, but he also doesn’t want a fight – he knows where it might lead… he takes a second to brood on the past, then says they should leave while he’s feeling philosophical. Thor is still seething, but Loki accepts the “gracious offer,” and they start to walk out. Then a frost giant warrior pokes Thor in his fragile masculinity by rumbling, “Run back home, little princess.” “Damn,” Loki says.
Lots of fisticuffs and hammerings ensue. We also see Loki’s ability to project an image of himself as a decoy. There’s a weird moment when he stabs a frost giant, who grabs his arm – and rather than being cold-burned as Volstagg’s was, his arm just turns blue. The stabbee gives him a Significant Look, and Loki finishes him off. His arm returns to normal color.
Thor is totally in a killing groove and doesn’t seem to care when Fandral is injured and Loki says they must go. Uh oh, a giant beast has been loosed. Thor calls down lightning that collapses the palace and then the entire landscape?? The ground disappears just behind his retreating friends’ feet. WTF? The beast can run upside down under the ice. Thor whips up some momentum with Mjolnir and flies like a rocket through the critter’s neck, killing it. But there’s a big crowd of frost giants behind them now, pinning them against the cliff edge. They call for Heimdall to bring them back, but instead, heya! Dad’s here! Odin asks Laufey to back off, but Laufey refuses. He says Thor will get what he came for: war and death. Before further battle can happen, Odin summons the Bifrost, and the Asgardians are sucked up into space.
Back at Heimdall-heim, Odin is seething with anger at Thor. He speaks some very ouchy words while stripping Thor of his magical Asgardian armor: “You are unworthy of these realms! You’re unworthy of your title! You are unworthy of the loved ones you have betrayed!” He snatches Mjolnir and blasts Thor into the Bifrost, saying, “I cast you out!” Then he throws the hammer into the light as well, saying, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” A magical incantation? Loki watches all of this, saying nothing but clearly glued to the drama.
Thirty minutes in, we are finally back to where the movie began: Thor landing in the New Mexico desert. Both Darcy and Jane look a bit horny for this guy who just fell to earth, but that doesn’t stop Darcy from tasing him unconscious when he starts yelling. They load him into the van to take him to the hospital. In the background as they drive away, we see another Bifrost landing happening in the distance, cargo unknown.
Thor gets belligerent at the hospital, but some drugs subdue him.
A guy driving a pickup truck finds the second crater, which contains the hammer, stuck in a rock like Excalibur. He can’t budge it. “Huh!” he muses.
Jane and Erik talk technobabble while Darcy plays dumb. “Einstein-Rosen bridge” = wormhole. They realize Thor himself was what came out of the wormhole and go back to the hospital to get more information. He has just escaped. They go to look for him in the van… and hit him again, this time by backing into him. Jane says to his unconscious body, “I swear I’m not doing this on purpose.”
Meanwhile, back at the crater, various dopey dudes are having a party, barbecuing meat and trying to pull the hammer out of its rock with feats of strength. Stan Lee makes his cameo driving a truck and attempting to yank the weapon loose with chains. The entire bed of the pickup rips off the vehicle and he asks cluelessly, “Did it work?” Then the feds arrive. Phil Coulson!! He radios back to HQ saying he found “it”.
Thor is awake and shirtless at Jane’s place. The camera lingers on his hairless and extremely muscly torso. Darcy: “You know, for a crazy homeless person, he’s pretty cut.” An in-joke comics reference: Jane lends Thor some clothes that used to belong to a previous boyfriend, Donald Blake, MD. “Good with patients, bad with relationships.”
Back in Asgard, the warriors tend their wounds and wonder how they were rescued. Loki says he told “the guard” (is this supposed to be Heimdall?) to tell Odin where they had gone after they went through the Bifrost. He says they’re all alive because of it, and he didn’t know Odin would banish Thor. Sif says Loki has to ask Odin to reverse his decision. “And then what?” he inquires. They all know what Thor is like, and he’s not king material. He leaves, and they wonder if he was the one who let the frost giants into Asgard. Fandral doesn’t think so, even though, “Loki has always been one for mischief.”
Cut to Loki in the vault, approaching the frost giants’ Casket. He lifts it, and from far behind him, Odin shouts, “Stop!”
“Am I cursed?”
“What am I?”
“You’re my son.”
Loki turns around, temporarily blue-skinned, with red eyes. The color drains as he asks, “What more than that?”
He walks towards Odin, saying, “The Casket wasn’t the only thing you took from Jotunheim that day, was it?”
“No. In the aftermath of the battle, I went into the temple, and I found a baby. Small, for a giant’s offspring. Abandoned, suffering, left to die. Laufey’s son.”
A flashback visual shows the blue crying baby turning pink as Odin holds him.
“Why? You were knee deep in Jotun blood. Why would you take me?”
“You were an innocent child.”
“No. You took me for a purpose. What was it? Tell me!”
“I thought we could unite our kingdoms one day. Bring about an alliance, bring about permanent peace. Through you. But those plans no longer matter.”
“So, I am no more than another stolen relic, locked up here until you might have use of me.”
“Why do you twist my words?”
“You could have told me what I was from the beginning. Why didn’t you?”
“You are my son. I wanted only to protect you from the truth.”
“What, because I’m the monster who parents tell their children about at night?”
“No, no…” Odin starts to fall backward. His voice has grown faint.
“You know, it all makes sense now, why you favored Thor all these years. Because no matter how much you claim to love me, you could never have a frost giant sitting on the throne of Asgard!”
Odin has completely collapsed on the stairs and is unresponsive. Loki leans over him and touches his hand, slowly realizing what has happened. “Guards!” he shouts with alarm.
Gushing note: this is a phenomenally acted scene! Hopkins is stern and gruff, but with an undertone of sadness and guilt. Hiddleston plays emotional notes up and down the scale and makes you really feel for Loki in this moment. Very Shakespearian and out of place in the middle of this movie.
Back with Thor et al, we return to sitcom territory. They’re in a diner, marveling at Thor’s appetite. He likes coffee and smashes his mug on the floor, demanding another. Darcy and Jane are embarrassed. A flannel-clad local walks in and excitedly tells other patrons about the “satellite crash” at the crater. Thor recognizes Mjolnir’s description and heads out, cluelessly causing traffic disturbances by walking in the middle of the road. He says he’ll answer all of Jane’s questions if she’ll drive him to the crater. Erik pulls her aside and tells her the guy’s delusional — he’s talking about myths as if they’re real! Jane tells Thor she can’t help him and almost trips over herself as she walks away while staring at him.
Almost immediately, Jane’s lab equipment and notes are confiscated by Phil Coulson. She is pissed, but he insists, “We’re the good guys.”
The trio sit morosely on the roof of the lab. Darcy complains about her iPod being taken. Erik says he knew an expert in gamma radiation who was nabbed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and wasn’t heard from again. (Banner?) He says he can email someone…
The warriors four go to the throne room of Asgard, urgently wanting to speak with Odin. But now Loki is in the chair. He says Odin has fallen into “the Odinsleep,” and he is now king. They kneel reluctantly. Some more reluctantly than others (*cough cough*, Sif). Sif asks that Loki undo Thor’s banishment, but he says his first act as king cannot be to reverse Odin’s last. Also, that the kingdom needs “continuity” when they are on the brink of war with Jotunheim. They withdraw, unhappily. Sif is looking daggers!
More silly hijinks on earth. Thor tries to buy a horse in a pet store. Jane gives him a ride in her van. Goo goo eyes almost lead to a road accident, etc.
Loki and Frigga sit on either side of Odin, who is lying in a bed surrounded by a golden barrier of light. She says he put off the sleep for so long, she doesn’t know when he’ll come out of it. But she says not to give up hope for him, or for Thor. “What hope is there for Thor?” Loki asks. She says everything Odin does has a purpose. Loki’s facial expression is ambiguous.
Thor and Jane get to the crater, which is now swarming with feds and covered with portable white tunnels à la “E.T.”. Thor says he can retrieve all her stolen equipment once he’s got Mjolnir. He easily infiltrates the perimeter and summons a thunderstorm with his presence.
Coulson: “I need eyes up high, with a gun.”
A mysterious someone responds, but grabs a bow and arrows, not a gun. It’s Clint Barton (a.k.a. Hawkeye) making his MCU debut! Barton asks if he should slow Thor down or wait for him to beat up more of Coulson’s guys. Coulson says to sit tight for a bit.
Some very muddy fighting occurs. Thor defeats everyone and finally gets to Mjolnir, looking triumphant. But… he can’t lift it! Oh no! He’s not worthy! He is dejected and doesn’t resist as Coulson’s guys take him into custody. Far away, Heimdall sees it all.
Jane, Darcy, and Erik banter about the possibility of Thor’s hammer being the same as the one in the kid’s book of myths Erik pulled off a shelf. For some reason Erik, who is actually Scandinavian, is less willing to believe in Viking myths than the Americans are.
Coulson tries to get Thor to talk. He thinks he’s a mercenary because of his military skills. Someone calls Coulson away and suddenly… Loki is there. He tells Thor a lot of lies in a short time, including: that Odin is dead, that there’s a truce with Jotunheim that is conditional on Thor’s continued exile, and that Frigga has forbidden his return. It’s goodbye, forever. Thor takes it surprisingly well. He’s sad, but thanks Loki for coming to tell him.
On his way out, Loki pops by Mjolnir to see if he can lift it. Denied!
Erik goes to the crater to rescue Thor, claiming Thor is Donald Blake, who he says is a brilliant physicist who was distraught when all his research was seized. Coulson, who has already seen that the provided ID is false, asks how “Donald” got through all the security. Erik: “Steroids! He’s a bit of a fitness nut.” LOL! For some reason, Coulson lets them leave.
Thor and Erik have a heart to heart at a bar. Thor says he had it all backwards. Erik says, “It’s not a bad thing finding out that you don’t have all the answers. You start asking the right questions.” ALERT! ALERT! MOVIE THESIS SPOKEN ALOUD! Erik says he’ll buy Thor one more drink, then Thor should leave town. But it’s going to be a while: the “boilermakers” are enormous!
Loki beams down to Jotunheim. Laufey tells his flunkies to kill him but becomes more friendly when Loki reveals that it was him who let the frost giants into the palace – as a “bit of fun” to ruin Thor’s big day and delay his “idiotic rule”. He offers Laufey a deal: he’ll let him and a few others into the palace so they can kill Odin as he sleeps. After it’s done, he’ll give them the Casket, and Jotunheim will be returned to its – he glances left and right at the dismal decor – “glory”. Yes, you can hear the air quotes. Laufey says it’s a deal.
When Loki returns to Asgard, Heimdall mentions that he couldn’t see or hear Loki while he was in Jotunheim. How odd… Loki double-checks that Heimdall is now loyal to him as the current king, then orders him not to let anyone else through the Bifrost.
Thor carries a drunken Erik back to Jane’s van. After some awkwardness (she puts a dirty bowl in the cupboard nervously, then admits she never has guests), they go to the roof of the lab and sit next to a fire pit. He explains the Nine Realms and Yggdrasil, and the scene fades to black. No sexy times though – she’s just falling asleep in her lounger. Some time later, he tucks a blanket around her and thanks her. For what, exactly? I think this is what passes for development of their relationship in this movie.
The warriors four are in a room together. Fandral is pacing with agitation and is irked that Volstagg is stuffing himself with meat and ale. He slaps a half-gnawed leg of beast out of his hand. Volstagg leaps up, shouting, “Do not mistake my appetite for apathy!” Hogun and Sif are in agreement: they must find Thor, even though it’s treason. Then they realize they should say no more, because Heimdall might be listening. Two seconds later, there’s a knock at the door: they’ve been summoned by the big H.
Heimdall loudly asks if they intend to defy the orders of their king, Loki, and betray their every oath as warriors. They admit the answer is yes. “Good!” he exclaims, and walks away, leaving the Bifrost sword in its mechanism. Apparently, he considers it not breaking his oath if they do the activating instead of him. Loki sees the Bifrost light up from over in the palace, and he’s super pissed.
The warriors land in the desert 15 miles from the crater. Coulson’s crew detect the surge of energy and head out to investigate.
Domestic scene with Erik taking Alka Seltzer and Thor serving eggs. OK, that happened.
Loki goes down to the vault and releases the Destroyer, telling it, “Ensure my brother does not return. Destroy everything.”
The warriors walk through the middle of town, causing confusion with their outlandish garb. “Is there a renaissance fair in town?” one agent asks. The four quickly locate Thor (how, exactly?), and there is a happy reunion. It is quickly revealed that Loki lied to Thor about Odin being dead. But… Thor is still banished regardless? I’m not sure what their plan is here.
Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Loki confronts Heimdall and tells him he’s out of a job. Heimdall is freed from his loyalty oath and prepares to fight Loki, but Loki opens the Casket and encases Heimdall in ice. (He briefly turns blue again while he’s doing it.)
A new portal opens on earth and something… bigger than before plummets to the ground. Coulson and crew are nearby. One of them asks, “Is that one of Stark’s?” as they behold the Destroyer. “I don’t know. He never tells me anything,” Coulson says wearily. Attempts to talk down the giant killer machine with a megaphone don’t go too well. It blasts what appears to be a combo laser/flamethrower beam from its face. Yikes! Run, guys! It slowly stomps in the direction of town.
Fighty fighty. People running away. Lots of flames and explosions as the Destroyer blasts buildings, cars, gas stations, and people with its death beam. It’s kind of thrilling watching it lay waste to the place! Sif gets the upper hand briefly, but the Destroyer twists its head around in an Exorcist move and zaps her off. The thing seems unstoppable. Thor convinces his friends to retreat, saying he has a plan. Then he walks toward the Destroyer and talks to it as if it is Loki. He apologizes for whatever he did that made his brother so mad and says the people in the town are innocent. Loki can just kill him and end it. We see Loki sitting on the throne in Asgard – he can hear it all. The Destroyer powers down its Inferno-Face and instead backslaps Thor into next week. He flies far down the street and actually looks damaged for once. Jane rushes to him and weeps as he seemingly dies. The Destroyer turns around and starts walking away. Back on Asgard, a single tear falls from Odin’s eye, and we hear flashback voiceover about Mjolnir, worthiness, etc. At the crater, the hammer breaks free of its rock and flies high into the sky before hurtling toward Thor. Erik hustles Jane out of the way as the hammer lands in a suddenly not dead Thor’s hand. There is lightning, special effects of his armor reconstituting out of thin air, his friends looking amazed and happy, etc. Then there’s a big storm-assisted battle with the Destroyer, which ends with it in smithereens.
Well, that ended suddenly. Coulson agrees to give Jane’s equipment back and seems to be assuming she’ll be working for S.H.I.E.L.D. henceforth. Thor asks Jane if she wants to see “the Bifrost site” and she says flirtingly, “Sure!” It’s almost as if he’s asked her to come check out his record collection. “Wait, I need to debrief you…” Coulson protests weakly as Thor blasts off into the sky with Jane.
Back on Asgard, Loki welcomes the frost giants. Heimdall silently screams inside his ice prison.
At the Bifrost landing zone, Thor calls for Heimdall and gets no reply. His repeated calls seem to give Heimdall super strength; he suddenly breaks free of the ice and kills the two frost giants left to guard the bridge. He enters the Bifrost chamber and activates it.
Mushy scene of Thor saying he has to go back to Asgard to deal with some stuff… but he’ll be back for Jane afterward. They have an overly emphatic kiss that is devoid of sexual energy, and off he goes with his warrior buddies. Byeeee!
“Get him to the healing room,” Thor commands when they find Heimdall collapsed in the chamber. He’s off to deal with Loki.
Frigga gets one good sword cut in as frost giants invade Odin’s chamber, but then she’s overcome. Laufey gloats a bit as he prepares to kill Odin, but then is blasted from behind by Loki, who calls himself “the son of Odin”. Laufey and friends are dead, lickety split. Frigga says Loki saved them, and he seems eager to accept credit. But then Thor arrives and breaks the news that Loki tried to kill him. Frigga is shocked. Loki claims that the Destroyer must have been following Odin’s last command, and Thor says he always was a talented liar. Loki blasts him out of the way with his spear, saying, “Excuse me! I have to destroy Jotunheim.” What?! We’ve officially entered “nothing this guy does makes sense” territory.
He rides to the Bifrost chamber and activates it — leaving it on, pointed at Jotunheim. Earlier Heimdall mentioned that it was so powerful it could wreak hella destruction if it wasn’t used briefly. Now it’s on full blast, exploding whole buildings and sections of Jotunheim’s surface. Thor arrives and wants to know, “What up, bro?” Loki says he wants to be the one who saved Odin and destroyed “that race of monsters” to show that he is the worthy son. Thor: “You can’t kill an entire race!” “Why not? And what is this newfound love for the frost giants? You could have killed them all with your bare hands.” “I’ve changed.” “So have I.” Loki slashes Thor with his spear. “Now fight me!” Thor doesn’t want to, but Loki goads him into it by saying he’ll maybe pay Jane a visit later. (Ick.)
Fighty fighty until they blast through the wall of the Bifrost chamber onto the bridge. Loki casts an illusion of himself hanging off the edge pleading for help. Thor falls for it and gets a blast to the chest. He collapses as Loki casts multiple illusions of himself to better gloat/laugh. The moment ends suddenly when Thor brings down some lightning and Loki is stunned. Thor puts Mjolnir on his chest like a giant paperweight and tries to go back to the chamber. It’s pulsing with so much force and energy that he can’t get close. Loki says there’s nothing he can do – he can’t stop it now! (How can he talk with that hammer compressing his lungs? The physical properties of Mjolnir are vexing.) But Thor has an idea: he summons his weapon and starts hammering the Rainbow Bridge. Loki is appalled. He says Thor will never see Jane again if he destroys it. Thor continues hammering as Odin awakens back in the palace. Loki rushes at Thor and leaps on him with his spear. There is a huge explosion as the combination of their concussive blows shatters the bridge and the Bifrost chamber falls off the edge of the world. Odin seemingly… teleports? … and prevents Thor and Loki from falling as well. Loki tells Odin he almost did it! For him! Odin says, “No.” That’s the last straw… Loki lets go of the spear he’s been dangling from and falls into the void of space.
Obligatory denouement. The portal closes on Earth. Asgardians feast, but Thor is gloomy. Sif and Frigga discuss his mental state: he’s sad about Loki and misses Jane. (Or, as Sif calls her, “the mortal”.) Thor tells his dad he knows he has a lot to learn now, and he hopes he’ll make Odin proud of him someday. Odin says indulgently that he already has. Then Thor visits Heimdall, who is standing statuesquely near the end of the broken bridge, staring off into space. “Can you see her?” “Yes. She searches for you.” Thor smiles a melancholy little smile. The end.
Weird end credits music: “Walk” by Foo Fighters. It doesn’t really fit, tonally.
Post credits scene: Erik in a subterranean corridor is met by Nick Fury, who wants his help with a mysterious blue cube that contains possibly unlimited power. Suddenly Loki appears in a mirror, looking a bit worse for wear. Bruised? Scorched? Moldy? Maybe all of the above? But he’s definitely not dead! And he seems to be mind-controlling Erik, who repeats his words: “Well, I guess that’s worth a look.” Duh duh DUH! Stay tuned for The Avengers, coming next year!
(This section contains spoilers for later movies and TV shows.)
When I first saw this movie, I didn’t think much of it. It just seemed silly. Some of that was clearly intentional, and I did enjoy the lighthearted boisterous energy that Chris Hemsworth brought to the role of Thor, particularly in the scenes based on Earth. Rewatching it now, I still find it to be a mess, tonally and visually discordant between its Asgardian and Earthly sections in ways that don’t work very well overall. And the plotting is just plain lazy. But I am surprised at how enduring some of the characters, themes, and settings ended up being over time, in ways that did not need to be “fixed” to support later movies and TV shows.
First off, the concept of the Nine Realms and the sparkly Rainbow Bridge/Bifrost is a soft introduction of the neon-lit space weirdness of later films like Guardians of the Galaxy. And though the world-hopping in Thor does not technically involve a multiverse (these are all planets existing in the same timeline), the very different worlds and peoples depicted have some of the “anything can happen” flavor of the events just starting to unfold in the MCU’s phase 4.
And speaking of the multiverse… having just watched the Loki show on Disney+ (which officially unleashed it), I really appreciate how this movie introduces Loki’s slippery character: his actions and his affect are so divergent at different points that it almost seems like he’s playing alternate universe versions of himself in this movie! The Loki of Norse myth is known for his trickery, of course, and it’s hard to tell if the lack of character coherence is due to the source material, bad writing, or Hiddleston’s uncertainty about how to play him in this first outing. He does some pretty evil things, but he’s also sympathetic at several points, and it’s hard not to agree with his assessment of Thor early on: his brother is a big dumb lug and doesn’t have a clue! And he displays genuine emotional turmoil when he discovers that he is a frost giant by blood and that Odin has been lying to him. Daddy issues! It seems like he wants to die at the end, but… lo and behold, he’s back in that end credits scene. The pattern is set of someone who’s all over the place, someone you want to trust, but can’t, and someone who keeps dying without it sticking, like a cat with nine lives. A character with a lot of dramatic angles to play and a lot of potential to drive plots, even (especially?) multiversal ones.
Thor’s own daddy issues and struggles with responsibility get a big splashy debut in this film, and even though he seems to have reached a turning point by the end, his skill deficits in the areas of thinking ahead and controlling his urges continue to crop up, as do his ambiguous feelings around being a warrior vs. a ruler. In the MCU to date, these have not been resolved, but Hemsworth has both deepened the character and made him more funny (Thor: Ragnarok was a highlight in this regard), so it doesn’t feel like he’s stuck in time. I’m always pleased to see him when he shows up.
Something that really doesn’t work for me in Thor is the romance. There is no “there” there, to the point that it’s almost insulting to viewers. And though Jane is supposedly a talented scientist, she doesn’t have much career-related purpose in this movie beyond the first few minutes in which her wormhole obsession leads the title character to meet cute with her van. Then she’s super focused on him for the rest of the movie. She doesn’t get much more to do in Thor: The Dark World, either. It sounds like Marvel has plans, finally, to make something of Jane Foster as a character (in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder), but it took over 10 years! Was it a lack of prioritization or lack of availability or interest on Natalie Portman’s part? I don’t know, but… meh.
Other random comments:
- Thor’s warrior friends (apart from Sif) have barely any personality, so it wasn’t too sad when they were unceremoniously offed by Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. (I didn’t even know their names until I looked at the subtitles for this rewatch.)
- I’ve enjoyed how Frigga has gotten more play in the ensuing Thor movies, as well as Avengers: Endgame. Rene Russo does a good job with her character, even after she’s technically dead! The Marvel universe could use more moms, especially magic-wielding kick-ass ones.
- What a waste of a perfectly good Destroyer! I’m sure some Asgardian master smith is weeping that Thor smashed it up instead of letting it return to home base to resume its usual vault-guarding duties.
- The lines about thieving Odin and his collection of stolen relics lead right into Thor: Ragnarok’s depiction of Asgard as a plundering colonial power, a reading that still seems a bit confusing to fans even now but was clearly being set up from the beginning.
- Why exactly was someone using the Bifrost to zap down to New Mexico so regularly that Jane could predict it down to the second? Is Heimdall having a very punctual affair with an Earthling?
- Horses that don’t have wings seem pretty pointless in a place like Asgard, I have to say.