With the premiere of the ”Avengers: Endgame”, a certain stage in the MCU ended. That's why I decided to lean over one of the first films from the Super Heroes series.
After the huge success of ”Thor Ragnarok”, there was a lot of talk about the previous scenes of Thor's adventures. And among them appeared - in many conversations - one sentence The First Thor was a disappointment or Finally a good movie about Thor, after two defeats. I can not agree with that, I think that in retrospect, this first movie about Thor perfectly fit into the created structures of the future world of the MCU, where people, gods and aliens can defend the Universe together.
Let's start from the beginning. Because this is the first thing you need to remember. The first Thor appeared at the very beginning of the MCU. Then when we already had Hulk and two parts of Iron Man behind us, but all in all ... not so much. What does it mean? And so much that in total the MCU was only supposed to exist (Avengers had already been announced) but it was still crawling. And it needed a strong kick to be able to go beyond a series of films about super heroes and enter the "film attempt to recreate the comic book universe." Although it may seem that one is no different than the other, the truth is that we have never before had a situation in which the comic screenings tried to reflect this intermingling of different stories, different characters - as it happens in comics. It was the preparation of the MCU for the big jump that the Avengers were taking on Thor. He introduced history in space (never before we have the cosmos in the MCU), explained the principle of the world (how can it exist, and Earth and Thor) and introduced magic (in the first Thor quite clearly we get the basics of what will play in
”Doctor Strange”). If ”Thor” was really a bad movie, it would be a problem for MCU. Viewers might not accept the cosmic dimension of the universe. But they did it without thinking.
The second thing is the aesthetics of the film. ”Thor” as everyone else remembers, is a very bold movie in terms of aesthetics. All in all, apart from the nice retro ”Captain America” up to the ”Guardians of the Galaxy”, there was no movie in the MCU that would be so clear of the "realism" of terrestrial films about the super heroes. When we look at later films such as Guardians or Doctor Strange, we can see that Thor has somehow opened the door to such a colorful, unrealistic, reminiscent of the comic book world. Besides, Thor's success: Ragnarok, who breaks with the initially adopted aesthetics of Asgard, results from the fact that it is as brave as one in recognition that it can propose something that is specially stylized and gain sympathy for viewers. Anyway, this dripping gold Asgard in general plays a very important role in Thor: Ragnarok. Which was important, considering that it was already being said then that comic book adaptations are scared of starting material, and they want to be dark and serious.
Now it's time for the third issue - not necessarily related to the story. Thor's movie gave us Thor and Loki. More specifically, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. In 2009, an article appeared in the Vulture magazine about the fact that Marvel decided to risk and engage two not - known actors for the film. Saved cash was supposed to go to special effects. Hemsworth had a performance at ”Star Trek” on his account - he played Chris Pine’s father and was killed in the first scene. Hiddleston played in niche British movies and on stage. His only bargaining chip was that he played with Branagh on stage. They were not known either. Until Thor's premiere. Since then, their careers have not soared up, which has exceeded all expectations. Hemsworth has become the dream Hollywood actor who can be funny at the same time, performs well in the action cinema and has quite a lot of dramatic talent. And he is a huge, beautiful blond - something that Hollywoood has never had enough. Hiddleston, in turn, shot himself into a wave of love for British actors. Although in terms of roles, he does not have the same victories in terms of fandom, he can only compete with Cumberbatch. However, it's not just that the film was taken by two little-known actors to fame. The fact that it was so well-mannered (also in the supporting roles - Anthony Hopkins or Idris Elba also play great here) has played an MCU shape. Because if Thor was not a well-received movie, the whole idea of plotting the Avengers around Loki would not click. Meanwhile, Loki is really the central character of the film and for many people - already then - the main reason to wait for it not only because of the "meeting" of the characters.
”Thor: Ragnarok” has a lot of sense for the sense of humour of the creators - the third Thor is the best comedy from Marvel's films. But at the same time - you would not be able to charge Thor so humorously were it not for the fact that in the first film there was quite a lot of it. The comedic presentation of Thor's meeting with the terrestrials made us, from the very beginning, ready to treat Thor a little less seriously. Anyway, what would not be talking about the other Thor, it was there that the humor was still going on, giving in part the basis of what we see in part three (Thor teasing Loki when he escorts the ship from Asgard, we already have seen this somewhere). And at the same time - it is impossible to deny the first Thor the proper play of emotional scenes. The conversation scene of Loki and Odin could easily be found in some of Shakespeare's dramas. What's more - because we know who directed the movie - it's clear that it's no accident - in the end, the story of the first Thor concentrates on what good dramas are usually focused on. Competition, rejection, power and parenthood. ”Thor” is also a movie in which there really is no "this evil" - something that we have become used to after many years in the movies, here was still a novelty in the MCU universe.
It is also worth adding that ”Thor” as a Marvel movie quite well copes with female characters and representation (it is worth emphasizing the word "enough" because Marvel was never a super champion). We have Jane and Darcy - two heroines, one of whom is very cheeky and independent, the other is a competent scientist (though, unfortunately, Thor also has to explain everything). In Asgard, we have a Lady Sif - a warrior who is equal to her comrades (and has no unreasonable armour) and Frigga, who is a not without significance. It's a lot for a super heroic movie where sometimes there are two female characters. For this - due to casting decisions, residents of Asgard also play actors other than white - we have Idris Elba as Heimdalla and Tadanobu Asano as Hogun. Although both actors do not have so much to play, it's important to just put them in Thor - because it opens the door to diversity of Asgardian skin color - which is perfectly evident in ”Thor: Ragnarok” where not only we have a black Valkyrie, but also a very mixed crowd in the background. Given that at the time it was decided what the Asgard would be, or more broadly - the cosmos, Marvel did not underestimate these decisions.
To make it clear - I know that ”Thor” has his drawbacks. The last act - this one on earth - is almost dreadfully boring and predictable. In general, as long as Thor sticks to Asgard, it is a much better movie than when people appear on earth. But at the same time - it is still a film that fills the frame of super heroic production quite well and avoids the largest shoals without much problem. As the production from the first phase of the MCU - which really prepared us for more is doing really well - especially in preparing the audience for expanding the MCU and introducing to it such completely comic aesthetics and construction of the presented world. Sure - Thor did not earn much, but the reason is prosaic - Thor was in fact an average-recognizable character outside the circle of comic book lovers. The fact that many people today mention Loki as one of his favorite Marvel characters should be considered a phenomenon - considering that only recently you could hear laughter at the very thought that Marvel has in his pantheon Norse Gods as a heros. Today, the knowledge that there is Thor (as a superhero) is incomparably greater than in 2011. What's more - it is a character that evokes a generally positive feeling. And after the last installment will become the successor of Big Lebowski.
Here you should ask a key question - if Thor is so cool then why is it considered weak? In my opinion, here are three mechanisms. The first one is simple - Thor premiered in 2011 and most people regularly did not repeat it. The second one, which really was a bad film looks better in our memories. There has been an equal level of opinion about these two films, and suddenly both have gone down as the weak (although none of them are such a complete cough). The second option is related to the passage of time - actually the super heroic films do not get old well. Today, watching films from the first phase of the MCU, we often feel that they stand out from what was filmed later. On the three best and worst MCU movies list I found at the very end was Iron Man. Meanwhile, we all remember how great and amazing success Iron Man has been, becoming the flywheel of the entire MCU. Only that since then our requirements for super hero cinema have changed, and what was new at the time seems to be schematic and secondary. And third reason - more important than the previous one. ”Thor” is called weak because it is called weak. There is a rule on the Internet that opinions about movies, books or music start to live their own lives. You know what to think about and what to write about. Sometimes the opinion is imposed by the influencers, sometimes just a few people who are more willing have the same opinion. The opinion begins to live its own life and interestingly - hardly anyone verifies it. And so the first Thor becomes a weak film after a while. Even if it never really was. What's more - because we are looking for confirmation of popular opinions rather than polemics with them (because we all have such a mechanism), if someone tells us that Thor is weak, we sit down to the screening of a weak movie. And then we see in it what is weaker.
Let it be clear - it does not argue with those who do not like Thor. I do not like the second part of the Guardians , but if I had to talk about them, I would probably have to admit that Marvel managed to hit the right tone of the film where there is a talking raccoon and an infant tree. But I am a bit amused, a bit intrigued how much opinion about the film can detach from the film after some time.
In 2011 there was no doubt - Thor was a hit, he raised hearts and introduced new heroes to the MCU pantheon and to the hearts of fans of new actors (you remember the popularity gained by Loki - amazing). And of course - with time we look differently at films - the Avengers were once a beloved movie. Today I see that this production does not really make sense. But still - it does not mean that we're dealing with poor movie. Especially since as I wrote - if we write for a long time that a movie is unsuccessful, it will be unsuccessful.
Finally, I would like to say that I think Thor had one more advantage. It was the movie of Kenneth Branagh. And had several characteristic "stamps" of the director. From rich decorations, through focusing the plot on family relationships (and the young prince looking for his place) to music by Patrick Doyl (Thor had one of the best soundtracks for superhero movies in history, one of the few who remember what I can not say about others) or a diverse cast . If you know Branagh's work, there is no doubt that this is his film as part of the MCU. Why do I think this is important? Because it was not at the first stage of the MCU, whether certain specific directors with a specific style will be able to make their mark on the film. The MCU could have gone in the direction of the directors of the craftsmen. Branagh made his movie just like he does his films. Thanks to this, it was established from the very beginning that the director can bring his style to production. It was not always seen but in total "Thor: Ragnarok" is a bit the apogee of this trend. Because this is a New Zealand improvised comedy dressed in a super heroic costume. And that's what Thor must appreciate. At least - if you can not value it - it's worth remembering.