Release date: 6th May 2011
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Screenwriters: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne
Story: J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Protosevich
Paramount and Marvel logos.
We open in almost darkness, just headlights.
The music here is called Chasing The Storm. Like the rest of the score, it was composed by Patrick Doyle.
Titles on screen tell us we’re in Puente Antiguo, New Mexico. The film did shoot in that state, but that town is fictional. We will see more of it later.
The first person we really get to see is Stellan Skarsgård, as Erik Selvig.
Selvig was created for the film, and has since been introduced in the comics, as a doctor for SHIELD.
My agent called and said that Kenneth wanted me to be in it, and of course, I’ve always wanted to work with Kenneth as a director and then Natalie Portman was in it as well and I worked with her on “Goya’s Ghost” and I fell in love with her back then, so I was really looking forward to working with her again.
On a laptop screen we see Van Allen Belt and some globes. The Van Allen radiation belt are layers of radiation that surround the Earth.
Then Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis.
Lewis was also created just for the film.
I’m just really grateful, honestly, to be in a movie like this, with the people that are working on it. I’m just really surprised that I didn’t get cut out. [Laughs] But, yeah, just really excited about it. It’s not like Darcy was in the comic books so I can’t really say if she’s coming back. I don’t know, if she’s needed, then absolutely I will.
They are sitting in a 1971 Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer, a high mobility, all-terrain vehicle.
Then they climb on top, and we get a better look at Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman.
Jane Foster comes from the comics, although her story is very much part of Thor’s secret identity that they excised from the MCU God of Thunder. She was a nurse at the hospital where Thor worked. She was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. She first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #84, September 1962.
Portman was a huge star when she appeared here. The actress had just appeared in a string of acclaimed films, in particular Black Swan in 2010. She had made her debut in 1994’s Leon The Professional. She told Dose.ca:
“[Kenneth Branagh] and I talked a lot before we started about how to make Jane a realistic scientist on screen and not just make her like Denise Richards in Bond, who wears glasses and so she’s a real scientist. We talked about how real scientists are like artists: They are able to imagine things that aren’t there. And to give Jane this sense that she’s sort of frazzled and she’s often thinking in abstractions.”
They chase the anomaly. And they hit a body.
Then more titles.
Then we’re at Tonsberg, Norway, 965 AD. It’s a real place, but this isn’t it.
Like many of the scenes in this film, it’s studio and CGI, created at Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios – 1600 Rosecrans Avenue, Manhattan Beach, California. It was the home of Marvel Studios at the time.
We hear voiceover. It’s Anthony Hopkins. We will see more of him.
The music here is called Prologue.
And we are introduced to the mythology. Starting with the Frost Giants.
Front Giants, or a version of them, exists in Norse mythology. Based on the Jötnar, they are usually portrayed as the main adversaries of the Asgardian Gods, although their relationship is far more complex than that – and will be so in this film as well.
They exist in the comics too, playing a similar role, and are long standing villains in the world of Thor. In the comics, they are portrayed (usually) as more giant.
They first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #112 (January 1965), and their look was designed by Jack Kirby, but as they were based on other source material, no writer gets a credit.
The Frost Giants attack humanity.
A light arrives from the sky. Note that the light has rainbow elements. Again, something we will see more of later.
The Asgardians arrive. Front and centre is Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins.
Odin is a key figure in Norse mythology, a powerful god who is also the father of Thor. He is also bearded and has one eye.
All those features have been taken by the comic book version of Odin. He is the father figure who exiles his own son to Earth.
He was created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #85 in October 1962.
Hopkins was entering his sixth decade in acting when he signed up for Thor (2011). His remarkable career has had many highlights from The Silence Of the Lambs and The Elephant Man. Previous to this, he had starred in Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. Hopkins told Screencrave:
“I’ve always been a fan of Ken’s. I’d never read… I’m not a geek, you know. But it turned out that it was the most enjoyable film I’ve been involved in for a long time and I could care less about anything. And then to work with Ken, he just pushed the right buttons to get me to give of my best. And I really value that in him, because I’d gotten lazy. He’s one of the best directors I’ve worked with so that was the principle reason.”
There is a massive fight between the two armies.
Odin takes down the King of the Frost Giants. His name is Laufey and he’s played by Colm Feore.
Laufey is also a character from Norse mythology, although portrayed as a female, not a Frost Giant, and the mother of Loki.
The film’s Laufey is a lot closer to the comics, where he is male, and is the King Of the Frost Giants. He is also the father of Loki.
Like the other Frost Giants, he debuted in Journey Into Mystery #112 in January 1965, designed by Jack Kirby.
And we see an Asgardian take the Frost Giant‘s source of power.
What is the source of the Frost Giants‘ power? It’s called the Casket Of Ancient Winters, and one of many energy wielding glowing things in the MCU. It appeared in the Thor comics in the mid 80s.
We are taken to Asgard. A CGI creation, of course.
We meet young Thor, played by Dakota Goyo, and young Loki, played by Ted Allpress.
As Odin causes permanent psychological damage on his sons, we hear The Sons Of Odin.
We also get our first glimpse at Mjölnir, Thor‘s hammer.
Mjölnir, the hammer, is a distinctive part of Thor in Norse mythology. It has appeared with Thor ever since in the comics, which added that only those who are worthy are able to use it, and that it tied to Thor’s secret identity.
We are taken to a huge ceremony. The music here is called A New King.
We finally get to see him – Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth.
Thor is, of course, a key figure also in Norse mythology. A god of great strength and might, with associations with thunder and lightning.
In the comics, his origins are completely different. A partially disabled medical student named Donald Blake found Thor’s hammer in a cave. Finding he was able to use it, it turned him into Thor. It was very 60s superhero – he had limitations that could be overcome with super powers – like Daredevil’s blindness. In the late 60s, it was revealed that Blake had always been Thor, and he had been banished from Asgard to be taught humility and also because Odin is a terrible father. Although there was early talk about incorporating Donald Blake into the film, there ended up being no secret identity aspect to Thor.
Thor first appeared in the modern Marvel comics in Journey Into Mystery #83, August 1962. His creation is credited to Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Larry Lieber.
Hemsworth was almost a complete unknown to US audiences when he was cast in Thor (2011). He was in 189 episodes of Australia soap opera Home And Away, and a small but very memorable role in Star Trek. He told Superherohype:
My very first audition sucked (laughs), and I didn’t actually get a call back. That was it, and then a few months later, I somehow got an opportunity to have another go, and I came at it with a different attitude, and was determined not to mess it up this time, and had four or five auditions and in the end, one Saturday morning got a phone call from Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Feige and Craig Kyle, the guys at Marvel, and said, “Congratulations, you got the part!”
That hair? It’s a wig.
Lots of people auditioned for Thor. Hiddleston we mentioned, as did Liam Hemsworth, Chris’ brother and Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan’s son.
There is a deleted scene where Thor and Loki share a moment before the ceremony.
We see a couple of women in Thor‘s life.
Sif, played by Jaimie Alexander.
Sif in Norse mythology is a goddess and Thor’s wife.
In the comics, Sif is an Asgardian and an often romantic foil for Thor, and a great warrior herself.
She first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #102, March 1964. Her creation is credited to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
I read some comic books back then, and my brother has a bunch of Avenger comic books, so I met Walt Simonson recently, and I totally geeked out and I think he thinks I’m a freak, but it’s totally fine. He’s way cool. So it was kind of neat because I find Sif a lot stronger that Wonder Woman, so I’m really pleased that I got this role and um, yeah. And you know, as you can see, she’s covered. It’s no slutty costumes, you know, no boobs sticking out, any of that stuff. She’s just a strong female, and I think that needs to be done for a lot of young women out there.
Then his mother Frigga, played by Rene Russo.
Frigga, in Norse mythology, is based on Frigg, the wife of Odin, and the highest ranking Goddess. Although she is not Thor’s mother.
In the comics, she is Thor’s step-mother, and a warrior in her own right. Her marriage to Odin was his plan to bring to warring parties together. Odin basically forced her into it, and is a terrible husband.
She first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #92, May 1963. She was created by Robert Bernstein, Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott.
Frigga was introduced earlier in a deleted scene.
Odin looks on, extremely judgementally. As a good father would.
Thor looks over at his mates, collectively know as the Warriors Three. They are played, from right to left, by Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas and Ray Stevenson.
The Warriors Three were made up for the comics, and don’t appear in Norse mythology. They are Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg. In the comics, they were three bickering warriors who often provided some comic relief (and muscle when needed). They also drank a lot.
They first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #119, August 1965. They were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Tadanobu Asano plays Hogun. He is a Japanese actor, and a leading man in several Japanese films before his casting in Thor (2011). He would go on to appear in films like Battleship.
Josh Dallas plays Fandral. The American born actor had spent years actin on stage in London, and was still relatively unknown when cast in this role. He would star in the TV series Once Upon A Time, and due to scheduling conflicts, would not return for the sequels.
Sif and the Warriors Three were originally to be introduced before Thor. That scene was cut.
Loki looks on too. He is played by Tom Hiddleston.
Loki is also from Norse mythology. He is a shapeshifter, often malicious and a combatant of Thor.
In the comics, Loki and Thor became brothers (or half brothers) and rivals. He is one of Thor’s original arch-enemies.
He first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #85 (October 1962) with Odin. He was created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Larry Lieber.
Hiddleston was just beginning his rise to fame, having been best known for his TV work such as Wallander and minor roles in films such as Midnight In Paris. Hiddleston actually auditioned for the role of Thor.
Odin mentions Mjolnir was forged in the heart of a dying star. This is a change from both the comics and Norse mythology, where it was crafted by dwarves.
Down in the bowels of the castle, two soldiers walk through Odin’s vault, because Odin is terrible at securing extremely powerful weapons, and two uncredited extras are just able to wander in, walking at normal pace.
What objects they pass have all been unconfirmed, but there is very strong speculation. They are:
Purple orb is the Orb of Agamotto (related to Eye of Agamotto, the amulet of Doctor Strange).
The Tablet of Life And Time. This ancient artifact had written on it, a chemical formula that would grant someone immortality and great powers. It first appeared in a Spider-Man comic, and was also owned by Doctor Strange.