I've read Marvel comics, but I only know Thor from the odd cross-over event or cameo. I was never really interested in him enough to read his books. In fact, I know Thor far better from Norse mythology than the actual comics. Damn, what a hipster thing to say.
The movie Thor takes a few liberties with Norse mythology (okay, last hipster comment), but I have no idea how faithful it is to the comics. I can tell you that the movie is a lot of fun and is going into my Blu-ray collection.
Up in Asgard, home to the party animals we know as the Norse gods, Odin chooses Thor, God of Thunder, to be his successor as King. However, Thor proves to be arrogant and aggressive, provoking a war with the Frost Giants. Odin strips Thor of his hammer and powers, banishing him to New Mexico. There, Thor falls into the care of a scientist, Jane Foster. Thor will remain powerless until he proves himself worthy. Meanwhile in Asgard Odin falls into a powerful sleep, leaving Thor's brother Loki in charge. Did I mention that Loki is the God of Mischief, Deceit and Lies?
The movie has a lot to accomplish. It has to introduce the hero, the villains, the supporting characters, the big action set pieces, the concepts of Norse mythology and how it all fits together with the Marvel universe established in the Iron Man movie. All that in just 114 minutes. Somehow it gets it all done with some fancy but steady footwork. Chris Hemsworth makes a likeable and sympathetic Thor. Tom Hiddleston is perfect as Loki, all charming, innocent and loyal upfront, but secretly wondering the best place to stick the knife.
There are a few good supporting performances too. I even enjoyed the film's comic relief, Kat Dennings as Darcy. Idris Elba steals every scene he's in as Heimdall, guardian of the Bifrost Bridge. Incidentally, the protestors are idiotic. If the story itself isn't about race, then the actor can be anyone. I wonder if these people also think that getting a white woman to play Catwoman would have improved that movie.
I digress. The film doesn't take itself too seriously at times, but never to the point of being outright contemptuous of the material. It gets some good laughs out of Thor being unused to the mortal way of doing things, without overdoing the fish-out-of-water angle. And when it's time for action, the movie rumbles. If I have a complaint it's that the movie doesn't top the first big battle, when Thor leads his compatriots into a confrontation with the Frost Giants.
I saw the movie in 3D. There were a couple of neat moments, but after awhile I just stop noticing the effect. In any event, it didn't harm the experience.
What the film can't squeeze in, it gives a nod to. There are references to Bruce Banner and Tony Stark and even Donald Blake, the original alias of Thor. It acknowledges continuity without being a slave to it.
Marvel's attempts to make a united Avengers franchise is very ambitious and I have been skeptical of it. It's looking more and more like they just might pull it off. Thor is a great ride even if you aren't a fan of the comic, and the trailers for Captain America: The First Avenger look very promising. Fingers crossed for the next Spider-Man and Ghost Rider movies.
For a second opinion, here's Victor Lucas and Scott C. Jones from Reviews on the Run:
Jason MacIsaac is the Executive Editor for The Electric Playground. Despite being named after a Greek hero, he's always preferred Norse mythology. The Norse Gods used to have ocean-drinking contests. Now that's badass. You can follow his blog here.