I am not an avid reader of comic books by any means, so the background to Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment’s latest release,Thor, was completely new and exciting to me. With relatively unknown Chris Hemsworth cast as the lead role alongside Oscar winner Natalie Portman, Thor had all of the makings of a brilliant summer blockbuster, but it seems even the God of Thunder could not adequately storm the box office. The estimated budget for Thor was a staggering $150 million, but the film only managed to pull in a paltry $65 million on its opening weekend. So, despite a talented cast, enormous budget and Robert Pattinson-free opening weekend, why did Thor fail to draw in the crowds?
It all comes down to story; Thor started off perfectly in terms of character development, but there is an inescapable inkling that the writers lost interest in the story halfway through the film. The first hour of the movie is dominated with stunning special effects and superbly timed superhero comedy and Thor is established as the headstrong, yet naïve son of a wise warrior-king, Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins. After his banishment from his homeland of Asgard, the mighty Thor is bereft of his power and forced to acclimate to the strange customs of a contemporary town on Earth. Up until this moment, the film is locked on a steady course for the Comic Book Film Adaptation Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately for Thor, the suspension of disbelief is strained for too long and by the final battle between good and evil, the audience has simply lost interest. The character of Thor’s brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, enters the screen as a complex character battling with inner demons and an inferiority complex due to his brother’s abilities. While Hiddleston brought Loki to life, the character’s confusing story only served to drag him into mediocrity. Loki is jealous of his brother’s power, but once he is identified as the villain, he continues to toe the line between good and evil throughout the film, making it difficult for the audience to fully accept his decline.
The film’s locations also served to hinder proper plot development, as most of the action takes place in Asgard, a realm far removed the more relatable setting of Earth. After an anticlimactic battle between Thor and the Destroyer, a powerful agent of Loki, the Earth story arc ceases and the audience is left wondering why the characters on Earth were even introduced in the first place. The main running battle between Asgard and Jotunheim dominates the focus of the story, which leaves Thor’s sojourn to Earth as a momentary side note that detracts from the excitement of the battle in the heavens.
The relationship that develops between Thor and Natalie Portman’s character of Jane Foster is established as the link between the two locations in Thor, but with the brevity of Thor’s stay on Earth it is a stretch to think that the relationship is founded on anything deeper than a momentary physical attraction. Jane comes to Thor’s rescue after the hero’s fall, but Thor never quite seems like he is out of control of his own destiny and is therefore only mildly inconvenienced with the loss of his powers. Despite the lack of his hammer and godlike strength, Thor still manages to mete out significant punishment to any who oppose him, so his “fall” leaves him as a being that is vastly superior to the normal humans on Earth.
In the end, Thor was entertaining at face value, but it routinely avoided moments of fantastic character development in favor of showy special effects. The acting was superb, so the film’s downfall did not come at the hands of any one character; there was simply a lack of solid story to keep the audience engrossed in the hero’s fate.