Out of all the sequels, reboots, and all-around mindless fare being released this summer, Thor appeared to be the biggest gamble of the lot. How many people were actually waiting on a film adaptation of a Marvel Comics b-list superhero based on a Norse God who speaks in something approaching Shakespearean soliloquies? Well, feel free to hit up Fandango, because Marvel finally has another successful film franchise on its hands to go along with Iron Man.
I suspect much of the credit should go to director Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) for crafting such a well-made film out of such lowbrow source material. He made a wise decision by focusing most of the attention on an excellent supporting cast and not requiring relative film newcomer Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) to carry the entire picture. Not to imply that Hemsworth makes a bad Thor, but other than filling out the costume it doesn't seem as if much is asked of him here.
The film begins with a team of physicists (Natalie Portman among them) discovering Thor in the New Mexico desert after he is cast out of Asgard by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), for disobeying and almost starting a war against the Frost Giants. His banishment offers Loki (an excellent Tom Hiddleston) the opportunity to take the throne after Odin falls ill. From there we are introduced to the Warriors Three: Destroyer; Idris Elba as a black Norse God; and Rene Russo back from the dead.
I'm not going to lie; the movie is basically 130 minutes of origin meant to set up The Avengers and—box office receipts willing—Thor 2. But it is also 130 minutes of fun. With Thor, Marvel and Paramount have given us a movie almost as rich in its storytelling as the original mythology.