Wednesday, 28 April 2010


In production and due for release in 2011, The Mighty Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh, sounds promising for another Marvel comic adaptation - despite worries about whether anyone can refine mythology involving a pantheon of Norse gods into a contemporary fantasy scenario that will entertain a mainstream audience. Asgardian epics worked just fine on four-colour pages, but can the peculiar content of Thor comics be transferred to genre cinema in compelling style without becoming (endearingly?) silly or, even worse, embarrassingly stupid or unforgivably pretentious?    

The challenges of archaic language used in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's comicbook series have reportedly been avoided by the film's writers (at risk of upsetting the purist element of Thor fandom!) by opting for today’s colloquial English - but hopefully not vagaries of ‘Amglish’ (from which the phrase ‘oh my god’ acquires some new Americanism of cringe-worthy potential!), and this curiously ignores all the possibilities that are offered by tapping into Branagh’s experience at making films out of Shakespeare's texts.

Amongst many other pitfalls to be evaded, principal casting of some puny humans (not as mere templates for CGI creations, presumably) as various Norse deities has a rather amusing ‘international’ flavour, so far…
  • Australian Chris Hemsworth (Kirk’s dad in Star Trek) plays thunder god Thor
  • Welshman Anthony Hopkins could make a worthy all-father as Odin
  • Swedish star Stellan Skarsgård is likely to be good as Silvig
  • Irish beefcake Ray Stevenson (vigilante Frank Castle in Punisher: War Zone) is cast as Volstagg   
  • English–as–Eton, Tom Hiddleston comes from TV acting, for prime villainy of Loki
  • Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano is – intriguingly – assigned the role of Hogan 
  • Californian Rene Russo portrays Frigga (no jokes, please)
  • Another American actress, Jaimie Alexander (from slasher movie Rest Stop) plays Sif, consort of Thor
  • Israel-born actress Natalie Portman, interestingly, plays nurse Jane Foster 

In the comics, Jane was assistant of Dr Don Blake, the mortal who transforms into Thor, but it’s unclear, at time of writing this, whether the character of disabled medic Blake appears in this film or not. Other geeky questions and concerns include: will they keep iconic features of the comic like Thor’s magic hammer (with unpronounceable name ‘Mjöllnir’), or will he just get a battleaxe? If the film’s plot follows that familiar tale about Odin’s punishment of Thor with exile to Earth, will the storyline lapse into cliché as yet another example of tedious father–and–son reconciliation themes which infect nearly all Hollywood products nowadays? 

Like both Iron Man films, and forthcoming Captain America remake ('First Avenger…' reportedly stars Chris Evans, from Fantastic Four movies), Thor is part of build-up to Joss Whedon’s mooted 'Avengers' epic (we can only hope that it follows revisionist trend established by Ultimates comics, not the Avengers' 1960s' origin story), in prep for 2012. Ah, that’s a year of apocalypse, right? Verily not…

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