Of God, gods, superheroes and a movie about Thor

A Review of "Thor"

It’s a funny thing when you think about God and gods.  Men, basically, have been making up stories about super powerful beings with all kinds of amazing powers since they were first able to communicate.  Of course, when you look at the various gods, the ones invented by the Romans, Greeks and Norse were always the more interesting ones.

I mean, think about it.  The gods in the worlds of the Romans, Greeks and Norse were nothing like the one Christianity would come up with.  I mean, really, Christians, you kind of fell down on the job once you got into the whole New Testament thing.  I mean, the gods in the Norse world, that would be Odin and the like, were deeply flawed people.  They spent a lot of time making mistakes and screwing things up and getting angry and then regretting it later.  The people who invented these gods understood that the world was so screwed up that there was no way the gods who were responsible for the world weren’t just a little bit screwed up.

Godly superheroes

What were these gods, really?  They were superheroes.  They all had amazing powers and abilities and the most amazing stories.  All of these things were used to explain all of the things that happened in the world when the people of the time were unable to explain them.  Being flawed people, they made their gods flawed.  I mean, think about Zeus.  He was always running off to screw women and changing his shape to sleep with more maidens and then his wife was always getting pissed off and putting curses on people because of it.  These were not people you just had to be pious with and sinless and then you got into heaven.

There were superheroes in the Bible, as well, of course  My favorite was always Sampson.  I mean, look at the story.  He was a guy with superhuman strength that was connected with the length of his hair.  I mean, what could be more like something out of a comic book than a guy with magical hair?  He was strong enough to defeat entire armies with the jawbone of a donkey and he literally tore an entire castle down with his bare hands.  

Then there was Joseph.  He was a guy who could interpret dreams.  He was like the mutant Cypher from the New Mutants who had the innate ability to read and understand languages.

Jesus: The ultimate superhero

The ultimate superhero, of course, was Jesus.  He had all of that healing power, could walk on water, fly, return from the dead and, of course, turn water into wine.  You want your superheroes to know how to party and the J-man sure knew how to do that, it seems.  

Then, of course, there was God himself.  Sure, he was big and all-powerful and he always existed and would always exist and he knew everything you were thinking and doing, but he was also, it turns out, three people in one.  Which helps explain a lot of the weird schizophrenic things you read about in the Bible.  Sure, here is a garden where everything is perfect, but I am also going to put this tree in the middle of it and then just tell the people here about it and then that they should not eat from it.  Does he put a fence around it?  Does he put armed guards near it?  No, of course not.

Sorry, Catholics

The Catholics even did the whole “god” thing, although they call them saints.  Sorry to bust you on this Catholics, but really, think about it.  The early humans had a god for everything and you just pray to a different saint to accomplish everything.  Sure, the saint is supposed to intercede and speak to God on your behalf, but still, it all amounts to the same thing, don’t you think?

It was only a matter of time before someone in the comic book world would look at these stories and decide they were perfect for the comic book pages.  That man, was Stan Lee.  He has explained that he wanted to create a powerful hero that would be more powerful than anything he had created before.  How do you make someone stronger than the Hulk or more powerful than some of the other heroes he had already invented?  He had turned a teenager into a man with the powers of a spider.  He had invented a Fantastic Four.  What was he to do next?  Well, why not a hero that was a god?

Gods come to the comic book pages

When it came to the Marvel superheroes, one of the strangest and goofiest was always Thor.  He was nearly immortal and a god, but he was expected to fight against goofy looking guys in costumes and with bizarre powers.  He was always speaking in strange Shakespearean languages, but he was also a founding member of the Avengers.  He was a crime fighter, but he was also supposed to defend Asgard and against galactic things.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the fact that he and his brother, Loki, were supposed to be involved in Ragnarok, which was the end of the universe.

He was strange, but there was also something appealing about the blond-headed guy.  He was always willing to share the spotlight with the less-powered heroes like Captain America.  He befriended Hercules and Herc helped Thor defend his homeland.  It was all very dramatic and exciting within the pages of the comic books.

Now comes the movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth as the Thunder god.  I am pleased to say that the movie “Thor” is nearly as much fun as the first “Iron Man” which was a movie that put a smile on my face from the first shot and kept it plastered on my face throughout.

The story is epic in scale.  The first part of it takes place on the mystical world of Asgard, where the gods live, ruled by the benevolent Odin.  Odin has two sons, Thor and Loki.  He has also fought for years against these creatures called the Ice Giants and they have just negotiated a peace.  He is a good king and he tries to teach his sons that being a king does not mean just running off and finding glory and starting wars.  The problem is that his son Thor seeks only glory and he becomes the most powerful of all of the gods.  When he does something stupid that threatens the peace between Asgard and the home world of the Ice Giants, he is banished to Earth to learn humility.

And he does.  I don’t think I am giving anything away here. It wouldn’t be much of a movie if Thor just stayed on Earth.  While on Earth he meets Jane Foster, a scientist and played by Natalie Portman, who seems to be in every single movie these days.  Thor not only learns that there is more to his life than his own glory, but he falls in love.

Branagh makes a great super hero movie director

Branagh proves that he can handle this material and handle it beautifully.  He has always been a very Shakespearean kind of director and this is right up his alley.  More importantly he shows he can handle a movie heavy with special effects and still remember the story.  And here, the story never slows down despite the fact it is over two hours long.  The action is beyond epic and involves gods, universes and the fate of humanity, like any good super hero story that involves a Norse god.

Asgard looks the way you think Asgard should look, full of glorious golden buildings and amazing landscapes.  The rainbow bridge has never looked cooler than here.  The Destroyer from the comic books makes a dazzling appearance in all of its destructive glory.  Loki is all mischievous, scheming evil just like in the comic books.  Of course, this is all to set up the Avengers movie due out next year and it manages to do that well, also, so be sure to stay through the end credits.

The movie is available in 3D and 2D.  I saw the movie in 3D and I can say that it did not add much.  If you want to save yourself cash for the plastic glasses, feel free.  

This movie is fun.  It sets a very high bar for the rest of the super hero movies due out the rest of the summer and throughout 2011.

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