Avengers Endgame hits theaters this weekend, and we’re going through the entire MCU before it gets here. Next we look at 2011’s Thor.
Thor seemed as if it had the potential to be a truly fantastic film. Chris Hemsworth looked and felt like Thor himself had stepped out of the comics. Kenneth Branagh, who had plenty of experience with Shakespearian material, was going to bring the Norse gods into a modern setting. Tom Hiddleston was the pitch perfect casting for Loki. The supporting cast included Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Colm Feore, Rene Russo, and plenty more phenomenal actors. Yet somehow Thor just seems to drag along throughout it’s entire 115 minute runtime.
There are some fantastic elements of Thor. Hopkins does a great job as the wise old father to Thor and Loki, who is trying to teach them to be better men. There’s a nice little cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye- his introduction to the MCU. The artifacts in Odin’s Vault are a gold mine of Easter Eggs, most of which will likely never be seen again in the MCU. And of course, Hiddleston was born to play Loki, and every single scene he is in is fantastic.
In fact, the more compelling character in Thor isn’t Thor but Loki. The film does nothing at all to make us feel as though we should care about Thor, except for the fact that he’s the hero. He’s an asshole up until the third act, and not even a funny or loveable one like Tony Stark. His romantic arch with Jane Foster is so insanely bland and stupid that it makes me glad she’s no longer part of the MCU. He has no motivation for anything except to react to whatever is in front of his face. Meanwhile, Loki has a full deep character arch from start to finish.
Loki begins the film believing he may one day rule, as his father tells them that they were both born to be Kings, but only one will take the throne of Asgard. He’s fought for years alongside his brother, watching him act as an idiot, and he has done everything he can to protect Asgard from being ruled by his idiot war mongering brother. He’s a good guy at first, and I can’t blame him for trying to prevent Thor from becoming King. But then he learns the truth of his parentage and feels betrayed. He feels as though he’s nothing more than a monster to his father, when all he’s ever wanted is to show his father that he truly is more worthy than Thor.
When you look at exactly what Loki does in the film, you can’t blame him for making the choices he has. Thor immediately tries to start a war after centuries of peace with the Frost Giants when one small event occurs. Odin casts him out and says learn to be a better man. Finally realizing that his “golden boy” son isn’t fit to be king. When Odin falls into the Odinsleep, Loki tells Thor, I’m not bringing you back. It’s smart of him not to, as Thor is still an asshole at this point and needs to learn to be good. Loki may be doing it to keep the throne for himself, but he’s not wrong to do so. Loki then lets Laufey and the Frost Giants in, letting them think they’ve won, but he kills them before they can kill Odin. Thus wiping out the threat of war before it even truly began.
Loki does everything that Thor would have done if he hadn’t been banished to Earth, but in a smarter way. A way which leads to much less bloodshed than anything Thor would have done. Now while he does go full villain at the end, it’s partially because he has been taught to look at the world in this way. It’s not his fault, and in the end all he’s truly doing is hoping to receive his father’s blessing and love. Which is what makes the end of the film so heartbreaking. I couldn’t give two shits about Jane looking for Thor. But Loki looking up to Odin, and him saying “no Loki.” Before Loki lets go of his staff and falls into the endless abyss of space. That breaks my heart every single time.
Overall Thor lives and dies by Loki and the performance of Tom Hiddleston. It’s a film that could have been so much more, but at the very least gave us one of the best cinematic villains of all time. It also introduced the world to Chris Hemsworth, and he’s proven to be much more than what this film let him do. We’ll see Loki and Thor again in Avengers, and luckily Thor starts becoming a much better character.