Branagh’s Thor Has Soft Hammer

Rachel Luczkowski

For a movie featuring a studly spaceman with a magical hammer and rainbow bridges connecting universes, Kenneth Branagh’s Thor is rather unremarkable. Although the film contains all of the elements of a solid, action-packed superhero movie, they didn’t come together in a consistently fun or interesting way.

The film actually consists of two separate, radically distinct movies. In one respect, Thor is a beautiful, almost Shakespearean tale set in Asgard, the mystical realm from which our hero (Chris Hemsworth) hails. In this movie, Odin banishes Thor from Asgard due to his impatience to go to war with a neighboring realm, resulting in strained relations between father and son. Thor’s brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), also tests his father’s patience by playing devious tricks in a power-play to steal the throne of Asgard.

The second movie starts up back on Earth, when the banished Thor drops from the sky sans hammer. After hitting him with her car, Jane (Natalie Portman), an astrophysicist, takes Thor to a hospital, where we first see that Thor is unable to comprehend modern technology and the niceties of social interactions. While some of the misunderstandings that result from the clash between these two worlds are genuinely funny, it feels as though Thor’s entire time on Earth is just an excuse to provide the audience with comic relief. Although he proceeds to develop something akin to a romantic relationship with Jane, this development doesn’t carry the same emotional weight as anything that happens back in Asgard. Aside from allowing Loki to manipulate the kingdom of Asgard, Thor’s time away from the throne doesn’t seem to accomplish much of anything except, oh wait, we’re introduced to S.H.I.E.L.D, the mysterious agency involved in the Avengers comic book series.

As one of many movies that build up the Avengers franchise, the biggest problem with Thor is the separation between what happens on Asgard and what happens on Earth. While the world of Asgard is fully developed, it is never exactly clear why Thor is on Earth because the film does not provide us with enough conflict to carry the story; sure, Thor has a love interest in Jane, but the dynamic isn’t fleshed out enough to carry any real significance. Indeed, the real reason Thor is brought to Earth is to create hype for the future films in the Avengers series — or so the director would lead us to believe. Does anyone remember that part of the comic?