When I was a kid I’d have given my front teeth to see a movie like Thor. But back when I was a kid teeth were replaceable. One fell out and another would grow in, kind of the way comic book movies are today. So even though Thor was a little disappointing I still have X-men and Captain America to look forward to later this summer and Spider-Man and The Avengers next year.
Last year when reviewing Iron Man 2 I came to the same conclusion. Just as the newsstands were littered with so many different comics that the quality went from amazing to blah, we have now been treated (and/or abused) with so many comic book movies, that just seeing a faithful adaptation of the characters I grew up with is no longer enough.
It’s great to see Asgard and The Rainbow Bridge come to life. It’s fascinating to see Thor’s red cape and his hammer swinging at a thousand miles per hour just like those old Ron Frenz comics, but I wanted something more. When Thor first walks on to the screen in full regalia with a shit eating grin I thought we’d be treated to an interesting, funny take on this character just as Robert Downey Jr. did for Iron Man. But so many kitchen sinks are introduced in this movie that it has no time to truly explore any of them.
It’s a tricky balance. I want both the things I’ve seen in the comics coupled with something new and exciting that will keep me interested in the movie. But one of the problems with Thor is that as hard as the filmmakers tried to cram 50 years of comic book (and centuries of Norse) mythology into the movie, the things it got wrong seemed more glaring. Since when does Thor have a Mom? Why does Loki, the God of Evil, need motivating factors to commit treachery? Why doesn’t Thor say any of his catchphrases like “I say thee nay”? How are characters that all looked to be of Scandinavian origin now seemingly from Africa and Asia (especially offensive since they didn’t include any Jewish Gods of nitpicking)?
To be fair a major problem with the movie stems from the source material. While artist Jack Kirby gave Thor striking visuals, Stan Lee never really came up with a credible, clever origin for Thor the way he did for Spider-man and the Hulk. And since this movie is a origin story it doesn’t have much to draw upon (although Stan Lee makes up for it with a great cameo).
So even though the movie breezes through at a good pace and there are a couple honest laughs I would have expected more.
It reminds me of those Star Wars prequels that came out a decade ago. I hated them (and don’t worry Thor is far superior to any of those movies). I remember thinking they were lazy, boring, and characters were introduced just to sell toys. I was shocked at the time to learn there was a similar reaction to Return of the Jedi. How dare they question the Ewoks integrity!
But maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. What seems lazy and cynical to experienced eyes, is fresh and fun to young eyes. To someone who hasn’t seen fifty superhero movies and read fifty thousand comics, Thor is an awesome, fun movie. But I refuse to consider that possibility. Because that might mean that at thirty-two years of age I might have outgrown comic book movies and that might mean I’d have to reevaluate my life, and I’m just not ready to do that. At least not until I see Captain America.