In Which I Spoil THOR By Asking Questions About It (Spoilers)

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Seriously, spoilers after the jump. But let’s get real, there’s an Avengers movie coming down the pike with Thor in it, and everybody knows that. This ain’t The Crying Game.

• Why did Agent Coulson let Thor walk out of the SHIELD compound, even when he knew he was not Dr. Donald Blake?

• So Donald Blake has nothing at all to do with Thor except … he’s Jane Foster’s ex? The Thunder God’s alter-ego from the comics is a peel-off nametag in the movie?

• Thor couldn’t lift Mjolnir (“Meow-Meow,” lolz) because he was being a dick. When he became selfless and offered to get blown up to save the world, the hammer flew out of the pit and came to him. Is that because he was suddenly worthy? Or because at that exact moment, as we saw, Odin woke up from the Odinsleep? That is to say, did Thor triumph on his own merits, or was he saved by the Dad Out of the Machine?

• There are four women with dialogue in this film. Do any of them ever talk about anything other than Thor and, vaguely, astrophysics and how not to drive in a blinding dust storm? (This review aside, I would argue that the answer is largely “no.”)

• Does Thor’s mom have a name? I mean, I know she does, but does anybody in the movie call her by that name?

• Does Thor even really like Jane Foster, in anything more than a courtly, thanks-for-helping-out way? She’s the one who gets all kerfuffily around him, and when he leaves for Asgard, she’s the one who shoves her tongue in his mouth.

• Loki’s mad at Odin for favoring his older son over him, and at the Frost Giants for leaving him to die by exposure as a baby, right? Because that wasn’t super-clear.

• But Odin said he found Blue Baby Loki in the Jotunheim temple. Is a temple the kind of place one leaves a child to die? Wouldn’t there be lots of other Frost Giants there going, “Hey, did somebody forget a baby?”

• Every upswept ponytail in this movie leaves an unsightly thatch of hair decorating the back of the neck. Hair colors offer no complement to actors’ skin tones. Every male has hair that is either ridiculous (Fandrall, Odin, Hogun) or simply there (Selvig, Loki). Every woman has hair than can be described as simply “long.” Not one wig looks like anything other than a wig. Is hairstylist Amy McHale (TV’s “Cavemen”) the worst cosmetic artist working in Hollywood today, or did she simply build and apply all the hairpieces using only her elbows while recovering from Lasik?

• Do you think Kenneth Branagh, the foremost Shakespearean adaptor of our day, sees any parallels between the story of Thor and those of Hamlet and Lear? Any parallels between Volstagg and Falstaff? Do you think you could ask him that question and build an entirely useless trend/feature article out of it, Houston Chronicle? Isn’t asking a Shakespearean star to point out Shakespearean parallels in drama kind of like asking a physicist to point out gravity during a basketball game?

• If Thor can so seriously get shit done once he’s carrying his hammer … and for real, Thor with his hammer gets shit done … why does he even need to join the Avengers?

• So … are the Frost Giants okay?

Jay Ferguson — Thunder Island

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10 Responses to In Which I Spoil THOR By Asking Questions About It (Spoilers)

  1. braak says:

    1) Because he didn’t think he’d get any answers questioning Thor, so he let him go to see what he would do. That’s why he put the tail on him. It is actually not uncommon to release suspects for this purpose, because the assumption is that they’ll lead you back to their confederates/superiors. Coulson also knows that there’s more going on here than just, “This is a mercenary who wants to steal a giant hammer;” he’s a SHIELD agent, not homeland security. He’s got an agenda.

    2) Yes. Thor’s comic alter-identity was kind of abandoned a while ago, actually, and was kind of weirdly superfluous in the first place (remember how Donald Blake actually found the stick that turned into Mjolnir? So, did he become Thor? Or was he replaced by Thor? Had he always been Thor and just not known it? This is too complicated an issue for us to bother with, unless we’re going to make an entire movie investigating the nature of divine alter-egos.)

    3) It was because he was worthy. His willingness to sacrifice himself to save his friends and to save Midgard was, presumably, the catalyst for that — and yeah, probably all-seeing Odin knew what was happening, and that’s why he made the decision (while in the Odinsleep — hahahahahah) to allow Thor his power back.

    4) I don’t think anyone in this movie talks about anything but Thor, frost giants, or astrophysicists. Thor and Selvig talk about Natalie Portman, a little. Fair point, though.

    5) Frigg, and no, they don’t. (Possibly because it’s too funny a name?) But mostly, no one calls anyone by their name — names only come up during introductions (they refer to Heimdall as “the guard” for the first half of the movie, and I don’t think anyone calls Volstagg “Volstagg” except Volstagg, when he introduces himself. Maybe that awkward part where Thor shoehorns all their names into a speech in the beginning.) There’s a valid issue to be addressed here, but I’m not sure it’s completely sound.

    6) Well, you know. It IS Natalie Portman.

    7) I don’t think Loki was mad at the Frost Giants. He seemed like he just wanted to impress his father by killing all of them. Though by the end, yeah, I guess he was basically mad at everybody.

    8) Presumably, leaving a small, weak baby to die of exposure is a ritual aspect of Frost Giant culture. They probably had a special baby-killing pit in their temple where they left their useless babies, so other Frost Giants would know not to take them. Maybe it’s like a baby lost and found? You can leave a shitty baby there, and if anyone wants it they can take it, but no one ever does.

    9) Yeah, the hair was shitty. Also, Volstagg needed to be fatter.

    10) On the other hand, what would you ask Kenneth Branagh about instead? At least the question of introducing Shakespeare into a superhero movie is something that you couldn’t have asked about any of the other Marvel hero movies.

    11) This is a good question. My suspicion is that Thor won’t be around for the bulk of the Avengers movie, and that a major part of the plotline is going to be figuring out how to re-open the Einstein-Rosen bridge so that Thor can show up and start fending off an alien invasion.

    12) They’re alive (they live on that whole planet, not just the spot where the Bifrost puts people down), but their society is still decimated, the source of their power is still gone, they’re still bitter and angry and have little chance to rebuild, so they’re likely to produce a lot of suicide bombers over the next thousand years or so.

  2. braak says:

    Hahah. It made my 8 into a sunglasses face.

  3. braak says:

    Actually, I was thinking about the Coulson issue, and I think it brings up a pretty interesting point about the way that we think about government agencies these days: namely, why, after capturing Thor, don’t they waterboard the shit out of him? Why, when Stellan Skarsgard comes to get him back, don’t they arrest him, too, and torture the information they want out of him?

    It’s because SHIELD are the good guys. They aren’t a jingoistic bunch of fascistic sadists, getting their jollies off by pushing other people around in the name of homeland security. They are a bunch of good, smart guys who are honestly and intelligently trying to assemble a team of heroes to protect the Earth from an alien invasion (I bet). So, of course Coulson lets Thor go to see what he’ll do. It’s because he is a good guy.

    • Jefferson Robbins says:

      Thanks for your point-by-point, which I’ll let stand without much rebuttal, and for your fine blog entry on the topic. I skipped the SHIELD/crossover-pimping epilogue, to be honest, just as I did after Iron Man 2. It’s like, I got it, I know there’s another movie coming, thanks. (A.O. Scott’s curmudgeonly NYT review of Thor referred to this as “buying a movie ticket on the installment plan,” or suchlike.)

      The way SHIELD behaves in this movie (the first in the pre-Avengers series in which we see them interact with anybody who doesn’t have superpowers or a supersuit) actually paints them as pretty standard government men-in-black. They push Jane and her team around, take what they want with no warrant, conceal evidence, clear civilians out of the Hammerfall Zone, etc. Then Thor gets Mjolnir back, blasts the shit out of what I presume is a world-ending threat (although we only see the quaint false-front town of Last Picture Show, N.M. getting obliterated), and SHIELD smiles and claps him on the back. So from a certain perspective, they’re assembling a superhero society at the expense of regular folks, their Constitutional rights, etc.

      This isn’t a problem in the comics, nor would it be in a movie that took a world with superheroes as-read, but this web of franchises is trying to establish this as our world where superheroes just start happening. Verisimilitude, y’know. So if the Avengers movie manages to tie all these things together, validate SHIELD’s asshattery, and somehow establish that a planet-smashing Norse god needs any help at all from a guy in a rocket-suit and another guy who’s basically a really tough Army grunt, I’ll be impressed.

      Especially if Thor fights the Hulk. That would be eight kinds of fuck-yeah.

  4. Lindsay says:

    “Does Thor even really like Jane Foster, in anything more than a courtly, thanks-for-helping-out way? She’s the one who gets all kerfuffily around him, and when he leaves for Asgard, she’s the one who shoves her tongue in his mouth.”

    Hell yes he likes her. He’s just POLITE about it. He wasn’t raised in a barn. For all his unfocused anger near the beginning about frost giants, he’s a good guy. And where he comes from, good princely guys don’t go around forcefully smooching ladies unless he’s darn sure they wish to be smooched, or possibly if it’s just a fling. If you really like her, you court her properly. And the fact that Thor conveyed that in a few wordless seconds (followed by Jane’s own clear message: “you’re sweet, but this is Earth, so I’m going to damn well kiss you”) is why I loved that scene.

    • Jefferson Robbins says:

      Devin Faraci at Badass Digest has sort of the same problem I have with the relationship. His argument is that one the whole, Thor ends incorrectly, with Thor stranded in Asgard instead of on Earth, but as far as Jane Foster goes:

      “He’s a thousand years old, and he’s known her for maybe 48 hours. This is the equivalent of you or I having a nice conversation with someone on a short flight; it’s a blip in Thor’s total timeline. Even if the film had successfully sold the relationship – which it simply doesn’t – there’s no way that giving up Jane Foster is that much of a sacrifice.”

      I have this feeling in regard to a few things about Thor. I think the movies these days count on us bringing a lot of the story into the theater with us, and filling in the blanks in ways that we shouldn’t have to. I think we’re asked to believe Thor has a thing for Jane because a movie hero is supposed to have a thing for the female lead. I didn’t see it. I also didn’t see, without later reflection, Loki’s motivation to destroy Jotunheim. Again, I think we’re trained to expect the bad guy to become a world-destroying psycho by the end, so screenwriters get to that point and sort of take a mental vacation.

      • braak says:

        Those are fair points. I like the way that it ends with Jane the one trying to get Thor back, rather than the other way around, but yeah, I think it’s pretty valid to say that we come in with a lot of ideas already in place that can be rendered in a kind of cinematic shorthand.

        It’s not impossible to make it work, Thor-wise, though; if you presume that, as a thousand-year-old god, the way that relationships work with you is just immediately and completely. When you meet a girl you like, you fall in love with her, bam, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THE GOD OF THUNDER ROLLS, you know? You’d have to, because maybe most of the people that you know (and Thor hangs out with mortals a lot) die fairly quickly by your estimation.

        Obviously, they didn’t do that; I’m just saying it’s not an impossible scenario to manage.

  5. braak says:

    I’m not sure. I think the movies are portraying SHIELD as looking like standard G-men — yanking people’s research, stomping on constitutional rights, &c. But the thing about that is that standard G-men are always up to something nefarious and sinister — hiding the aliens because humans are too stupid to know about them, or covering up the fact that aliens have already taken over, or as the de facto SS for some high-powered political operative.

    In this case though — and assuming that the Skrulls are the key point in the Avengers movie — SHIELD’s need for secrecy actually is more important than anyone’s constitutional rights (and, to be fair, Coulson did pay Natalie Portman for all her stuff). They actually do have a valid reason to seize whatever advanced technology they can find, because an alien race of shapeshifting monsters is trying to take over the Earth, and may have already infiltrated many levels of the government.

    Now, it’s fair to say that “the ends justify the means” is not a valid moral position, but I just want to point out that adopting that moral position doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to accept any means in order to achieve your ends, or that you wouldn’t be otherwise a recognizably good and moral person. If Coulson really is a smart guy who’s trying to save the world, he might see seizing Natalie Portman’s property as a painful necessity, but might draw the line at, say, torturing someone for information, you know?

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