Thor is Marvel’s latest offering. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the tale, it is based on the Norse Myth Legend, and the comic book character was created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber in 1962.
To tell you the truth, I had no idea about the story of Thor. I actually got confused with him and He-Man, (which my husband was repulsed by – “How could you get confused?! He-Man wears shorts and has short hair and Thor is in Armour and has long hair?” To which I replied, “Wel…there both blonde and muscular!”) and I had no idea what he did with that giant Hammer – did he build things out of gold with it? Or did he smash little Smurfs villages with it? – When the news came out that Thor was going to be the newest Marvel Superhero turned into a billion dollar movie, my husband Dave was immediately disgusted, “Agh, why would they bother?!” – I just went along, “Yeah! Why?!”
Dave isn’t the biggest comic geek, he is a games geek (currently he is enjoying “Fall Out New Vegas” for those who are interested in his gaming tendencies) but he is fascinated with the Marvel universe. He doesn’t actually really read the comic books, but he loves knowing about the characters and the philosophy behind them, and that is why last Christmas I bought him the gigantic Marvel Character Universe. He would read it every night in bed like a good little geeky boy, and he would tell me about the characters which he thought to be interesting. Thor was never one of them.
In saying that however, he is a big fan of the Iron Man movies, (I mean, which boy hasn’t seen Tony Starks man room and gone ga-ga over all those toys?!) and he is very much looking forward to the Avengers, so he thought we should go check out Thor just so that we got a handle on the Avengers movie when it comes out next year.
I sat. I watched. I enjoyed. I didn’t just enjoy however – I was enthralled – not just because the acting and the story was so tight, but because the movie wasn’t just your run of the mill “good guy needs to destroy bad guy before he destroys the world”, it was intelligent and complex. It also contained elements in which female audiences will leave feeling pretty happy they shelled out $22 for the privilege. (How ridiculous is the price of movies these days?!)
Why, you may ask, is Thor so attractive to female audiences? Firstly, it’s not just any female audience I’m talking about, I may go as far as saying that Thor is a great movie for feminist females who know their way around literary works. Actually, Thor is the perfect movie to recommend to a gal’ like me, and not just me, but my friends – girls who love a good dramatic story, a bit of romance, some comedy, strong female characters, some meaning and growth in the characters, and more superficially (but not less important!) – some eye candy and some cute clothes wouldn’t go astray as well!
It may be hard to believe, what with me talking about a Superhero movie and all, but Thor actually contains all of what I listed above. Let me go through each of the important elements I’ve listed above, in order for you to fully understand what I’m getting at here.
Good Dramatic Story.
Kenneth Branagh, who is well known for directing and acting in Shakespearean
movies, is one of the main reasons why I believe Thor is not just another blokey fight movie. He believed from the start that the special effects shouldn’t be the best thing about the movie – but that the acting should be the real star. Branagh has said that the movie is like, “Shakespeare in space” - he asked Chris Hemsworth (our local Melbourne boy, oh and the guy who plays Thor!) to read Shakespeare in order for him to truly nail the role of the God with the Hammer. As Joe Quesada, editor-in-chef at Marvel comics said, “He’s definitely about character, which is the quintessential trait you have to have to understand the Marvel characters…It’s not just big hammers and capes and things like that. It’s about what makes the character tick.” Branagh has approached the story as a tragedy, and it is this story element in which makes the movie so much different to all the other Superhero movies out there.
Ok, so I like a bit of romance! Especially when it’s between a couple of good looking people. The romance in Thor is als
o very Shakespearean – it’s between two people from entirely different realms, too people who are so different, but happen to make an emotional connection. Jane (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are always looking at each other with a kind of knowing. They know that there is something special going on between them. It reminded me a lot of the way in which Leo and Claire looked at each other through the fish tank in Romeo and Juliet – except Thor and Jane do so with more humor and happiness and less teenage angst – I guess this would come down to being older and wiser.
Though, I have to say one bad thing about this romance – when the kiss occurs
- it doesn’t look like a very good kiss. It’s messy – and I don’t know if this is because they are just going at each other because of all the sexual tension that it building up or it’s generally just a bad kiss and Thor and Jane haven’t really had too much experiences with making out. I dunno, maybe I should post this question on a Marvel forum – what do you think?
Most of the comic relief comes from the character of Darcey, played by my new girl crush, Kat Dennings. She plays Natalie Portman’s assistant and knows nothing about Science.
When Thor is thrown to Earth, he yells out, fumbling around, “Hammer! Hammer!” – obviously because he doesn’t have his prized possession with him. Darcy then says, “Yeah, we can tell your hammered dude – obviously!” Also, when Jane’s belongings are taken away by SHIELD (Tony Stark’s corporation) Darcy feels that it is a tragedy that her Ipod was taken as well, as she has just loaded, “Like, thirty new songs onto it”
Chris Hemingworth is also good with the comedy, and he does it all quite straight faced, as only a true God would. One of the funnier scenes is when he enters a pet store and seriously says to the geeky store attendant, “I need a horse!” to which he receives the reply, “Ah…we only have cats and dogs.” “Well, get me one of those big enough to ride!” Hilarious, and good comic relief in a movie that is so though provoking.
Strong Female Characters.
Most female characters in recent Marvel/DC movies are just there to be a token. They are usually the girl next door (Mary-Jane), or the one who cleans up the messes of the Superhero (Virginia ‘Pepper’ Pott), the crazy girl (Poison Ivy) or they just plain get a strong female character totally wrong! (Hailey Berry’s Catwoman *shudder*) Thor is one of the only recent Superhero movies (save for Black Widow in Iron Man 2 – but she was kind of sexualised by Tony Stark) in which there are not one, but two strong female characters. The great thing about these two characters is they exhibit different strengths – one is extremely intelligent, whilst the other is extremely strong – strong enough to run with the boys.
Jane, who is also the female and romantic lead, is a rare thing in a Superhero movie – she is a very smart female who has dedicated her life to Science. It’s not like she is smart and is a rich man’s secretary who she secretly pines over, like Pepper Pott in Iron Man. Jane generally believes in her work and wants to accomplish what she can for the field of Science. Her home is in the middle of the desert, and she lives here in order to complete her research, and most of her heavy duty scientific equipment is made by her. She is not a smart woman, like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn before her, who is defeated by her profession. Poison Ivy a was a biologist until – Shock! Horror! there was an accident and she became insane… Harley Quinn was a psychologist at
Arkham Asylum untill Shock! Horror! She fell in love with the Joker and became insane. Jane does not encounter an accident, and she does not go ‘insane’ when love comes her way – she grows from the experience, and Thor’s appearance actually gets her a foot in with SHIELD, an organisation she would not have heard of if she had not been kind to Thor in the first place.
Then there is Sif, who is the Goddess of War. The portrayal of Sif could have gone pear-shaped. It would have been easy for the writers to paint her as a testosterone filled, ready to prove the boys wrong, angry, aggressive female, just like a lot of physically strong female characters before her. However, Sif is most certainly a female – you can tell she is more emotionally sensitive than her male counterparts, and they allow her to dress feminine and elegant (but not sexually so) in non-fighting scenes. Her costumes don’t show off her female form – she wears, like the men do, fighting attire that will protect her in battle, not make her look ‘hot’ whilst fighting. I recently googled “X-men first class” and found a picture of January Jones, who is to play Emma Frost in the movie that is due out in June. Emma Frost is considered by some as the “Sexiest Female Superhero of all time” – and this is mainly because she is usually portrayed wandering around in her underwear, and has, as one website states, “a frosty and
distant demeanour” Awesome. How original. A Superheroine that’s hot but is a bitch, and just happens to be more comfortable jumping and fighting in a bikini. Makes sense, eye’?! Going back to Sif, they also show her interacting with other females in the banquet scene, showing that she has not divided herself from her fellow females, and joined the boys club, like so many other strong women seem to do in popular culture.
Meaning and Growth.
The great thing about Thor, is that his growth is not in his strength or in his physicality – he is already strong and ripped at the movies start. The growth he needs is an emotional and empathetic one. When the audience is first introduced to Thor, he isn’t automatically likeable. Like Batman and Spider-man, he isn’t a misunderstood, Emo Superhero – he is arrogant, has a gigantic ego, and believes his own actions to be truer over his fathers. If my father was Anthony Hopkins, I would not be going around defying him…I mean, did Thor not see “Silence of the lambs”? Obviously not.
Anyways, to me, a great movie is in the characters – if there aint’ not characterisation there, I’m not that interested, and Thor has character development up the wazoo! Thor, believing that he has no hope in going back to Asgard, finds peace within, though it may have something to do with him also finding Natalie Portman…
The villain, which all Superhero movies have to have in order for it to be a good vs evil fight, is not who you expect at first. But even they have multi-layers, and their final evil plan isn’t as straight forward as it looks. I’m not going to give anymore away, just in case you aren’t a comic book geek and don’t know who the villain is yet, but lets just say that they are as complex, torn and arrogant as Thor is.
Well ladies, in this department, we have something for everyone!
For the girls who like em’ doe eyed and ripped, we have Chris Hemsworth – a local Melbourne boy, who I didn’t think was that cute at all (I don’t really go for that Blonde haired blue eyed Surfer boy look), untill I saw him softening in the role of Thor. At the beginning, I just saw him as a big oafish dude, but when he gets in touch with his feelings (oh boy, I sound like a self help book!) – those eyes started doin’ something for me!
If you like your boys skinny and lanky, then Loki, Thor’s brother and the God of mischief, is your man. I didn’t find him attractive, I like my boys broad, but hey, I’ve met many a girl who fancies her men the total opposite, and I’m sure lots of girl will dig his look.
For girls who like their men with a bit of facial hair, you will dig Thor’s mates, Fandral (Josh Dallas) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) I was actually surprised to find out that Josh Dallas was actually quite cute underneath all that mo.
For those who have a thing for Asian boys, there is the very cool Tadanobu Asano as Hogun, who, I quote from IMDB, “Described by some as a cross between Johnny Depp and Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samuri), Asano Tadanobu is certainly the hippest, if not the single most important, Japanese film actor working today.”
For the older ladies, there is Sir Anthony Hopkins, who looks all rugged and hardcore with his black eye-path, and Stellan Skasgard as Jane’s friend, the Professor – both have very distinguished accents!
For the bisexual or lesbian ladies there is Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Jaimie Alexander as Sif, and Renee Russo looks stunning as Thor’s mother, Frigga.
Ok, so I’m a sucker for comfy clothes – I’m a jeans and t-shirt gal’ all the way. I mean, I love my vintage dresses when I need to go out somewhere fancy, but around the house and when I’m hanging out with my mates – even if we go out for dinner – I’m in jeans, my chucks, a rock T-shirt and a blue hoodie adorned with rock and travel badges. So the fashion in Thor appealed to me – the cute t-shirts with the flannel shirts over the top (total grunge rock look) the very cosy looking beanies, the scarfs, the long warm looking jackets - ahh, it’s so comforting to see girls
in an action movie dressed like normal girls, instead of tailor made sluts who wear next to nothing. Let’s face it – the clothes that Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings wear look so much more comfortable than the clothes that any of the other ‘token’ female/love interests have worn in other action movies.
To summarise, Thor was a pretty damn entertaining movie. I guess I’m so impressed, because generally, when you are a feminist going to see an action movie that’s target market is male, rather than female, you have to leave a lot of your feminist feeling aside. However, I was happily surprised that instead of leaving the movie with thoughts of, “Oh yeah, the boys always the Superhero and the girl is always either dead or a sex object” – I left feeling happy that a big budget Marvel movie has finally been made where women finally kick some butt! Both literally and academically in a Superhero movie…who would have thunked it eye’?!
Oh, and a final heads-up – don’t leave when the movie ends – stay in your seat untill the very end of the credits because that is when Marvel let’s loose a preview of their next movie! If you haven’t already, re-watch Iron Man 1 and 2 and the Incredible Hulk to see more previews!!