I just finished watching Thor for like the third or fourth time since I first saw it several years ago. It was my first introduction to the MCU, and today, it was my kid brother's. The film has always held a special place in my heart, being one of my first superhero films I watched, but I never really realized just how good it was. I know that it's not the most epic film, nor does it have the most characters, or even have the most popular characters, but this film may be the best story and movie of the MCU, and I'd say that it ranks highly on the list of best superhero films.
It would take an entire article just to list the awards that the cast of this film has won or been nominated for. I mean, Anthony Hopkins has an entire Wiki page dedicated to his numerous Emmy's, Golden Globes, and other prestigious awards. Natalie Portman has received huge accolades for her roles (not Padme, but, she's been in other things, trust me.), and while Hemsworth and Hiddleston haven't won any large awards, their acting has certainly not been brought into question. But, in this cast are some of the biggest names in Hollywood, known for their acting caliber.
Here's a good example of just how good the acting was in this film. Now, we all know how impressive Hopkins is on-screen, but one of the best scenes in the film is this:
The raw emotion showed by both Hemsworth and Hopkins is staggering. And, throughout the film, we see not the first weak link in the acting chain. Though some would reprise their roles with a "phone-in" performance, at least in this first film, every actor put their full power and potential into each role.
Kenneth Branaugh, otherwise known as Henry V, Victor Frankenstein, Hamlet, Iago, Ernst Shackleton, Macbeth, and Wallender. This actor/director/screenwriter has starred in highly rated films such as Valkyrie and Henry V, as well as directing the most recent Jack Ryan film (which he also starred in), Cinderella, and of course, Thor. This Shakespearean actor has an eye for impressive performances, and for poignant dialogue. This showed in Thor, with many of the lines having subtle meaning and a depth that is often lost in many superhero movies. His expertise in the art of Shakespearean drama gives Branaugh an advantage on the silver screen, and while a director does not a movie make, they sure help.
Something that sets all the Phase One films apart from all other MCU films and many of the Marvel films in general is their story. They focused on the characters, and how they became the heroes they were in The Avengers. Iron Man showed Tony Stark build his suit, and learn to fight for more than himself. Steve Rogers gained his super-human powers and we saw just what kind of character-filled man he was. Thor gave us a different picture. We saw a cocky, arrogant demi-god get banished, and saw his change as he realized true humility and leadership. Thor's plot was smooth, with just enough twists and back-stabbing to keep things interesting. The action was excellent, but not gratuitous. The romance was not forced, and the character arcs were complete. Again, we saw Thor change from a belligerent prince to a humble man, ready to ascend to the throne. Loki also changed from a well-meaning son into the bitter, sarcastic villain we all know and love. And, while other MCU films, like Age of Ultron seemed rushed, Thor was set at just the right pace.
Sadly, I couldn't find all the shots I wanted, but, these three describe pretty well what I wanted to explain. Now, several superhero films have tried to be like the comic books on which they were based. One that failed epicly was Ang Lee's Hulk. The cuts to and from scenes, as well as the multi-panel deal was just annoying, and added to an already bad movie. But, Thor seemed to capture the feel of a comic book without the added baggage. The cock-eyed camera angle often used might seem a bit odd at first, but, they resemble comic book shots. There were many extreme close-ups in this film, which mirror how comics will often go very close in on a character to gain a bit of perspective on their mood, or thoughts. One other interesting note: a lot of the shots were quick cut, changing from one to the other in fast succession, much like a comic book or graphic novel will cut from one view to another in rapid-fire style. The colors matched comics too, but without being corny.
In conclusion, Thor is simply a work of art. Beautiful story, excellent score, cinematography, and costumes, and actors that have, and will grace many an Oscar's ceremony. It may not be the biggest comic book film, or the darkest, or even have the most favorite character. (We all know that Batman wins that title.) But, it tells a story, does it brilliantly, and homages the comics both in style and substance, but without coming across as a comic book film. That is why Thor will always be one of my favorite superhero films, and, in my opinion, one of the best Marvel films ever made. Disagree? Let me know in the comments, or write your own post about it! Excelsior!