To pass off an alternate universe where the protagonists look like extras on the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with god like powers and mullets that Chris Waddle would be proud of, you have to have courage and confidence in your convictions.
Not only does the story of Thor immerse you in some serious folklore from minute one, there is a huge amount of back story to get through in order to make this universe totally convincing.
And for my money, Branagh has done a fantastic job.
It’s open to debate exactly how much influence our Thespian had on proceedings – you can imagine that the look, style and feel of the film was pretty much agreed before they’d even found a director. But that’s not what Ken was brought in for.
Branagh was brought in to bring some gravity to the family drama (of which there is a shed load) and to ground this godlike Viking in reality- a tough job but one which has worked brilliantly. This is the Marvel film that all others should look up to.
The story opens with Thor, Son of Odin, as a young, hot headed warrior, who uses his magical/enchanted hammer, Molijnor, to wreak havoc on his kingdom’s enemies. However, his actions lead to all out war with the creepy looking frost creatures that live in another realm, and this in turn leads to Thor being banished from Asgard by his father, played by Anthony Hopkins (on great form.)
Thor and his hammer are thrown down to earth and the film becomes funnier with some great action sequences.
The first part of the film takes place totally in Asgard, which is fantastically realised, with huge vistas of sparkly, shiny buildings that could have gone all-out camp in other hands.
Nearly everything about this film is BIG, except the relationship between Natalie Portman and Thor, which is far too vague to convince that they are in love. The odd glance and lusty look didn’t quite cut it.
But Chris Hemsworth is excellent in the title role, bringing charm and muscle to the part- and more than holding his own against Hopkins and Tom Hiddlestone (both very good.)
If other Marvel films were less intent on joining the dots between their other characters, rather than focussing on developing their protagonists, then they might have been as successful as this film. (There is a cameo from Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, but nothing to get your knickers in a twist about.) Thor takes what could have been the biggest camp-tastic mullet laughathon source material and has made a gripping, fun and action packed film, that thankfully, doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Good work Branagh.