?>
GTX0 NewestRepliesHottestMy Active
NIFE UpdatesRoadmapRequests | HelpDiscuss Game Worlds


Entertainment & Media



We're gonna need a bigger boat.
Marvel Retrospective: Thor (2011)
Posted: Posted January 29th by Jet Presto
Edit Report Thread Views

As strange as it seems now, Thor was one of the bigger gambles for Marvel Studios. Breaking away from the more science fiction, grounded characters of Iron Man and Hulk, Thor was going to need to incorporate more fantasy and magical elements. In a world before The Avengers, this wasn’t so guaranteed a success. We would need to get some history of Asgard, background in the lore, some insight into this foreign world, mixed with fun action and the type of humor Marvel is known for.

On the most part, they work it all in pretty well. Yes, the opening requires your traditional voice over narration explaining most of these things. That’s not too different than your typical fantasy film. Visually, the strength of the film is the fantasy side of the equation. The world of Asgard looks great, the costumes are gorgeous and telling, and the make-up for the frost giants is incredible. Laufey has a menacing presence, just as Odin has one that provides steadiness.

It is no surprise that Marvel brought on Kenneth Branagh to direct. Much of the Asgardian drama plays like a Shakespearean play. There is intrigue, family drama, murder plots, deception, war, and lots of theatrical acting. Despite the strange over-reliance on dutch angles, Branagh brings out among the best acting seen even to this day in a Marvel film. Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston play off each other so incredibly well, it’s almost as if you were sitting in a British playhouse.

The strength of the film is certainly its fantasy elements. Asgard works surprisingly well. While the fish out of water story with Thor on Earth provides some entertaining and very funny moments, the dynamic between Thor and love interest Jane Foster leaves a lot to be desired. They seem to connect so quickly. Indeed, one of the problems is just how fast the film movies.

We sort of have to talk about Jane for a moment. In the blu-ray featurettes, Branagh explains the reason for casting Natalie Portman, saying that they needed someone believably super smart. Given that Portman is herself an Ivy League graduate, this is good casting. From the very get-go, Jane Foster is a smart, confident, driven scientist that cares deeply about her work. The problem is that she has one of those arcs wherein she basically stops being a person once she sees the handsome, hunky Thor.

The handling of female characters is, suffice it to say, disappointing. Lady Sif doesn’t get to do all that much despite being set up as a fierce warrior. Thor’s mother is barely in it. Kat Dennings provides comedic relief, but contributes to the sexual gawking of Chris Hemsworth. It is Portman’s Jane Foster that fairs the worst. Here she is, one of the premiere scientists of her field, dedicated to the work and confident that she is right. Yet once she sees abs, she can barely speak in sentences! She stares and gawks and can barely stay focused. Even the first moment she sees Thor, she seems momentarily lost in his eyes.

It’s not even that it kind of sets female characters back a lot; it’s that it creates a sort of unrealistic dynamic between her and Thor. They have so little time to actually grow together. In fact, the primary reason they wind up together is that she basically suffers from “love at first sight.” It’s hard to see any real chemistry between the two. Whether that is simply the writing or just how Portman and Hemsworth play off of each other is a bit hard to tell, but it doesn’t really work. It is understandable that the two might show curiosity in each other. Thor literally fell out of the wormhole Jane was studying. Jane is the Earthling Thor has the most time with. It feels rushed, and the product of a superhero film genre a little bit unsure of its own footing.

Easily the strength of the film is Loki. By far the most interesting villain in the first phase of Marvel, Loki comes off as more complicated a figure. Even his motives are a bit confusing. Of course, he is the god of mischief, so perhaps he truly is unknowable. In that way, he is in a similar category to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Still, Loki’s pain feels real and relatable. Yet he never really comes off as particularly “evil” as previous villains. He is behind the initial infiltration from frost giants, which leads to Thor’s expulsion from Asgard. At the same time, he never set out to prematurely put Odin into his slumber and is clearly upset when his father falls into it. Given where Thor was at the start of the film, he was even right to be concerned about the reign of his brother. Certainly, war would have broken out if he had been king. Though he sets off to kill Thor and is willing to destroy that town to do so, he is not actually interested in them. Thus, when Thor agrees to sacrifice himself, Loki goes along with it.

Arguably, the film might have been better if it had simply stayed in Asgard, or spent less time on Earth to showcase more of the Odinsons’ childhood and relationship before the events of the film. What we get, though, is compelling enough with what is there. The personal family conflict gives the film a more dramatic sense, with stakes specific to Thor and his people.

There isn’t necessarily a lot below the surface, however. Perhaps that was what was needed to introduce audiences to the God of Thunder. He was, after all, from a different realm. While much of the Thor world would fall to the wayside later, the film did sort of change a lot of things. Between showing that audiences would accept more fantasy elements and more unusual characters, it could even be argued that Thor not only set up The Avengers; it also opened the door for Guardians of the Galaxy. And as Nick Fury said in the team-up, everything in the universe changed because of him. So, too, did the Marvel production schedule.

Reductive Rating: It’s fine.

As an aside: I think Thor was the first time I really started noticing how much from the trailers don't actually wind up in the movies. I'm not sure if at this point, it was specifically done to throw off audience expectations or just from the normal process of cutting a trailer before the film is finalized, so things get cut out.



There are 18 Replies
Page:
1 2 Load all posts
settingsSettings

Ugh. I really should edit things before I post them. I say, "the strength of the film" like six times...



I also only sort of make a passing comment about it, but I kind of don't understand why they use so many goddamn dutch angles. I don't really know what it adds. They use it so much that it doesn't really do anything.

Posted January 29th by Jet Presto
Edit Filter Quote Report

Breaking away from the more science fiction, grounded characters of Iron Man and Hulk, Thor was going to need to incorporate more fantasy and magical elements.


Not sure how a guy who turns into a giant invincible green monster is "grounded" in science. The early iron mans at least seem believable (the nanotech "hey this one piece will melt onto your entire body" ones not so much).

the dynamic between Thor and love interest Jane Foster leaves a lot to be desired. They seem to connect so quickly. Indeed, one of the problems is just how fast the film movies.


Despite how bad the romance was in thor, I do like that their connection was based on a mutual interest in physics.

The handling of female characters is, suffice it to say, disappointing. Lady Sif doesn’t get to do all that much despite being set up as a fierce warrior.


That's true for the rest of Thor's entourage as well, it's not a gender thing.

It’s not even that it kind of sets female characters back a lot;


Oh come on, that's ridiculous.

Easily the strength of the film is Loki. By far the most interesting villain in the first phase of Marvel,


Honestly Loki is one of my favorite characters period. It's rare that you see a good depiction of "true neutral" where you can't ever fully love them as a hero or hate them as a villain.

As an aside: I think Thor was the first time I really started noticing how much from the trailers don't actually wind up in the movies. I'm not sure if at this point, it was specifically done to throw off audience expectations or just from the normal process of cutting a trailer before the film is finalized, so things get cut out.


What specifically was cut out from the trailer scenes? Everything there looks like it was in the film.

One thing I do like about the trailer is how it sets the film up as some spy thriller thing and then you get the marvel logo and the picturesque shot of asgard and you're like woaaaa.



Posted January 29th by Xhin
Edit Filter Quote Report
Xhin
Sky's the limit

she basically stops being a person once she sees the handsome, hunky Thor.

To be fair I have this problem too.

Edited January 29th by Cetasaurus
Edit Filter Quote Report
Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

Not sure how a guy who turns into a giant invincible green monster is "grounded" in science.


I said it was grounded more in science fiction. Bruce Banner was the product of a scientific experiment gone bad. His explanation is all "gamma rays." It's no more "science" than any of those 1950s sci-fi films were. In the fictional universe, however, Hulk and Iron Man are products of that fictional science. Thor is a god. Asgard is another realm with magic on top of technology. There isn't even a real in-universe scientific explanation for Thor's more magical abilities.

I know sometimes it is just a matter of semantics, but Iron Man and Hulk were more science fiction. Thor is more adventure fantasy.

That's true for the rest of Thor's entourage as well, it's not a gender thing.


It's true that no one really gets much to do. The issue with Jane Foster is that she is set up to be one of the main characters, but can barely form sentences once she sees the hunky man, and then she has no real impact on anything other than to serve as Thor's love interest. This plays out differently than it does when it happens to male characters in film. For example, Shia LaBeouf is sort of like this in Transformers. He can barely formulate sentences once he sees Megan Fox bent over fixing his car. However, he gets to be the hero of the film and save the day. Jane Foster doesn't really get to do much of anything. So she just serves in the film to remind us that we should be admiring Thor's masculine frame. She starts as a capable scientist and is reduced to just a bystander who watches and pines for her dreamboat man.

If she were just a side character like Kat Dennings or even Lady Sif, it would be a little different. Side characters inherently aren't expected to have much impact. (Kat Dennings especially is literally just there as comic relief). The main issue with Jane Foster is that she is set up from the opening sequence of the film to be one of the main characters and to theoretically be a major player. But then she gets reduced to mere meek love interest pining from the sidelines because even the best, brightest women on the planet are no match for a man cut like a rock. It would be one thing if they just had her gawk at him once, but she does it like, five times throughout the film. It would also be one thing if she showed attraction and then stayed focus and wound up playing some meaningful role. But she doesn't. And this *is* a gendered thing, in Hollywood overall, but in the superhero genre especially.

Oh come on, that's ridiculous.


I admittedly was being a bit hyperbolic, but I do think the film does not handle its main female character well at all (for the above reasons). I don't touch upon it here, but I actually do think the film has some interesting things to say about concepts of masculinity, for what that's worth.


Despite how bad the romance was in thor, I do like that their connection was based on a mutual interest in physics.


It was more about curiosity than anything. Thor doesn't exactly have any real interest in physics at all. The only "science"-ish stuff he talks about is when he explains the Nine Realms. He just says that where he comes from "science and magic are one in the same."

It's not that they have any shared interests. They kind of really don't have any, really. It's more curiosity-driven. Earth is foreign to Thor. Asgard is foreign to Jane. It's not quite right to describe it as "opposites attract," because they aren't really "opposites" either. (Although I suppose Jane is sort of a brainy thinker where Thor is a sort of short-sighted "man of action.")


What specifically was cut out from the trailer scenes? Everything there looks like it was in the film.


Most of the shots were (though I don't think that final shot was). A lot of the dialogue is not, however. There's things like Natalie Portman going, "Please open your eyes" and Thor going, "Oh no, this is Earth, isn't it?" Odin all like, "His fate is in his own hands now." The scene where Odin casts him out appears to be from a different take than what wound up in the final cut. The battle between him and Loki appears to have had a location change.

It's not necessarily anything major, of course. Just a few things that are like, "Oh, that's kinda weird."


Posted January 29th by Jet Presto
Edit Filter Quote Report

In the fictional universe, however, Hulk and Iron Man are products of that fictional science. Thor is a god.


Clarkian incomprehensible technology. He alludes to this in Thor, in the very trailer you posted "where I come from, magic and science are the same thing" or something to that effect. Later in infinity war it's revealed that his body is mosstly nanobots or something which is why he can take the energy of an entire star and live.

There isn't even a real in-universe scientific explanation for Thor's more magical abilities.


Which ones?

I know sometimes it is just a matter of semantics, but Iron Man and Hulk were more science fiction. Thor is more adventure fantasy.


Going by the story templates, yeah thor was definitely adventure fantasy -- but that doesn't make it less sciency than handwaving about gamma waves making you invulnerable.

One thing I like about thor was its reliance on actual physics -- there's a lot of mythological elements obviously, but the concepts of planets as part of the world tree or heimdall as a stable controllable wormhole really bring thor more into the realm of science fiction. It's reminiscent of the 1930's "golden age" of science fiction where there's a balance between science and interesting mythology.

She starts as a capable scientist and is reduced to just a bystander who watches and pines for her dreamboat man.


Good point.

It would also be one thing if she showed attraction and then stayed focus and wound up playing some meaningful role. But she doesn't. And this *is* a gendered thing, in Hollywood overall, but in the superhero genre especially.


Exceptions to this "rule" include Black Widow, Hope, Pepper, Gamora, Nebula...

I admittedly was being a bit hyperbolic, but I do think the film does not handle its main female character well at all (for the above reasons).


Oh I agree. Just pointing out some of the flaws in the argument.

I don't touch upon it here, but I actually do think the film has some interesting things to say about concepts of masculinity, for what that's worth.


Do tell.

It's not necessarily anything major, of course. Just a few things that are like, "Oh, that's kinda weird."


Hmm, interesting, I didn't even notice those changes.


Posted January 29th by Xhin
Edit Filter Quote Report
Xhin
Sky's the limit

Exceptions to this "rule" include Black Widow, Hope, Pepper, Gamora, Nebula...


I'm talking about common tropes. There is nothing to imply this is a universal situation. I'm not sure Pepper is a great example though. Though she constantly comes off as perfectly capable of so many things, her entire purpose in the Iron Man films is to be his love interest also. In fact, she winds up having to deal with a great amount of Tony's bullshit and we are supposed to think his condescension is "charming" because...Robert Downey Jr. I guess. Seriously, re-watching the Iron Man trilogy, and it's hard to not notice that her entire experience is just Tony talking over her, treating her pretty shittily, ignoring her even as she talks to him and makes clear what she wants and feels uncomfortable with, and basically dismissing her. She holds her own, until the filmmakers decide that Tony needs to have that love interest and Pepper randomly decides that she's attracted to being ignored.

Black Widow, Gamora, and Nebula never get to take on the kind of prominent role that Jane Foster fulfilled in the first Thor, either. They are either secondary characters or part of an ensemble. Gamora doesn't exactly fair very well herself, turning into the damsel in distress in both Guardians Vol. 1 and Infinity War.

But either way, these don't prove even exceptions to the rule because by and large, Black Widow, Nebula, and Hope don't serve as love interest in their respective films. They are superheroes themselves and thus, fulfill inherently multiple functions in the movies, even if - like Gamora and Hope - they hint at the possibility of a budding romance or partnernship (I actually really like how they do it with Hope).

I suppose I would make a comparison of the "love interests" of Marvel movies - all women - to the love interest in Wonder Woman (a man). While Pepper, Betty, and Jane all offer some kind of support to our male protagonist, they don't have much of a real impact on anything. They serve only as emotional support for their male heroes. When a man fulfills that role, like in Wonder Woman, he gets to take on an active role. He gets to participate in the action itself and help Wonder Woman save the day. He doesn't just pine from the distance and serve as the thing our hero is fighting for. We even see this in Marvel's Netflix shows, where Jessica Jones arguably starts to develop feelings for Luke Cage, who is himself a superhero and thus is able to help her in the fight itself. He is not reduced to mere emotional support. Luke and Steve Trevor are not simply bystanders who lose their agency to make way for our heroes, nor are they ever subjected to their existence being *about* supporting them.

But almost all the Phase I Marvel love interests don't actually get to do anything, have any agency, and largely exist *for* our male heroes to love and protect. By no means is this a universal trope that exists in every film. But it is still a trope that is itself gendered. Again, it's not that you can't find examples that contradict this - in terms of female love interests participating or male love interests being "damsels in distress" - but it's about the commonality of these things. They are tropes, not "rules."

(The real exception to this rule in at least Phase I Marvel is Peggy Carter in Captain America: First Avenger.)


(I will say more about the masculinity bit when I get home from work.)

Posted January 30th by Jet Presto
Edit Filter Quote Report

i remember very little about this movie.

Hawkeye was in it right? does he do anything?

Posted January 30th by s.o.h.
Edit Filter Quote Report
s.o.h.
 

Hawkeye was in it right? does he do anything?

He was in it, he was guarding the hammer for S.H.I.E.L.D. when Thor came to try and take it back.

Posted January 30th by Fox Forever
Edit Filter Quote Report

Given the discussion on Iron Man and Stark's character arc (or lack thereof), it's probably worth mentioning that this film contains probably the best (certainly the clearest) arc for the main character of all the Phase 1 films. Thor's transition from arrogant hothead to being willing to sacrifice himself for his people. One could certainly argue that Mjolnir makes it a bit too on-the-nose, but I had no issue with it. It's almost certainly true that Loki inadvertently improved Asgard's lot by getting Thor banished, so that he could have the experiences and humilty necessary to be a good king.

Honestly Loki is one of my favorite characters period. It's rare that you see a good depiction of "true neutral" where you can't ever fully love them as a hero or hate them as a villain.


Surely the God of Mischief is the definition of Chaotic Neutral, yes? ;)

But yes, I love Loki, and I think he had no real competition for the title of "best MCU film villain" until Killmonger showed up. It's a pretty great subversion near the end when the audience is set up to believe that Loki betrayed Odin as well as Thor, only for Loki's true plan to be an attempt to win Odin's respect. The very real brotherly relationship he and Thor get is a stark (no pun intended) contrast to, say, Stane's alleged personal connection to Tony. He's also one of the few villains, particularly this early on, who is a villain for reasons other than simply being evil. Probably the reason why he's the only one of these Phase 1 villains to continue to make an impact beyond his initial film, and I think his character arc is nicely realized throughout the MCU.

It's true that no one really gets much to do. The issue with Jane Foster is that she is set up to be one of the main characters, but can barely form sentences once she sees the hunky man, and then she has no real impact on anything other than to serve as Thor's love interest. This plays out differently than it does when it happens to male characters in film. For example, Shia LaBeouf is sort of like this in Transformers. He can barely formulate sentences once he sees Megan Fox bent over fixing his car. However, he gets to be the hero of the film and save the day. Jane Foster doesn't really get to do much of anything. So she just serves in the film to remind us that we should be admiring Thor's masculine frame. She starts as a capable scientist and is reduced to just a bystander who watches and pines for her dreamboat man.

If she were just a side character like Kat Dennings or even Lady Sif, it would be a little different. Side characters inherently aren't expected to have much impact. (Kat Dennings especially is literally just there as comic relief). The main issue with Jane Foster is that she is set up from the opening sequence of the film to be one of the main characters and to theoretically be a major player. But then she gets reduced to mere meek love interest pining from the sidelines because even the best, brightest women on the planet are no match for a man cut like a rock. It would be one thing if they just had her gawk at him once, but she does it like, five times throughout the film. It would also be one thing if she showed attraction and then stayed focus and wound up playing some meaningful role. But she doesn't. And this *is* a gendered thing, in Hollywood overall, but in the superhero genre especially.


It's even weirder that they make her so enamored of Thor's body, given that they already had Darcy to fill that role. Not that that role is exactly necessary, but since the filmmakers seem to think the audience will not be able to tell that Chris Hemsworth is attractive, it seems like overkill to have two women who mostly just make the same kind of comments. And, c'mon, this is an accomplished scientist--doesn't mean she can't appreciate some good abs, but you'd think she'd be at least a little less shallow! I agree with pretty much everything you've said about Jane, and I'm trying to decide if she's better or worse than Betty--Betty's relationship with Banner certainly felt more real than Jane's with Thor, but Jane actually did get some moments (mostly early in the film) where she got to be her own character and was kinda interesting. Wish they had stuck with that, because like you said, it was all downhill for her character once she ran into Thor. I think Pepper beats them both because she does at least have a distinct personality, though, yeah, the films do a much better job of convincing me why he'd want to be with her than why she'd want to be with him.

We even see this in Marvel's Netflix shows, where Jessica Jones arguably starts to develop feelings for Luke Cage, who is himself a superhero and thus is able to help her in the fight itself. He is not reduced to mere emotional support. Luke and Steve Trevor are not simply bystanders who lose their agency to make way for our heroes, nor are they ever subjected to their existence being *about* supporting them.


Hey now, I'm not sure this is a fair criticism of the Marvel Netflix shows, given that they really don't have a problem with the wider issue. All of the female love interests for the main characters in those shows are fully fleshed out characters and active drivers of the plot in their own right, and all of them play crucial roles in stopping the villains (with all of them save Karen routinely mixing it up in combat as well). Ironically, I think the only love interest who fits the description of "bystander whose entire existence is about being the lead's love interest" is a man, Jessica's boyfriend Oscar from her second season.

Not saying that this isn't an issue in wider media, because it absolutely is. But Marvel's TV shows have generally been a lot more cognizant and progressive about these issues than the movies IMO, as well as other issues such as diversity. It's telling that we got shows like Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, and Luke Cage (as well as Agents of SHIELD, which has multiple badass female and minority leads) well before the movies caught up with Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

Hawkeye was in it right? does he do anything?


Yes, he's in it, and no, he doesn't do anything. It's rather bizarre, really--his appearance amounts to little more than a cameo. He doesn't even fire a shot. I forgot how tiny his role was, but I guess now it makes sense that my initial reaction to his appearance in Avengers was "who the hell is this guy?" Would have made more sense to have War Machine be part of the founding Avengers, but I can understand them not wanting to have two heroes with the exact same "powers" involved.

Posted February 1st by white lancer
Edit Filter Quote Report

Well that sucks about hawk eye. I am not sure if it is true but I read somewhere that one of the scripts for thr winter soldier had a fugitive captain of America face off against hawk eye. In the script hawk eye was gonna gonna corner him and ultimately let him go (and tell his superiors he was over powered) that would have been beat.

Posted February 1st by S.o.h
Edit Filter Quote Report
S.o.h
 

I actually never watched this one. I saw the Iron Man movies, but the first Captain America movie turned me off of Marvel movies for awhile. A friend put on the Avengers one night and that got me back into it, but by then I'd missed this, Thor 2, the Hulk, and IM3. Would you all say it's worth going back to? The quality of these movies shot up midway through Phase 2, so I've felt like it'd be a waste of time.

Posted February 1st by poptart!
Edit Filter Quote Report

Would you all say it's worth going back to? The quality of these movies shot up midway through Phase 2, so I've felt like it'd be a waste of time.

I think you will enjoy IM3 if you go into it with low expectations. The other two arent really needed (thor 2 being the worst) and marvel has done a lot to distance its self from the Hulk. (General Ross does return in Civil War/ Infinity War but he is a minor character at best.)

Posted February 1st by S.O.H.
Edit Filter Quote Report
S.O.H.
 

Sorry, Xhin. I've had a pretty crazy week, so I'll elaborate on my thoughts about its take on masculinity soon. I haven't forgotten. Just...too busy.


Hey now, I'm not sure this is a fair criticism of the Marvel Netflix shows, given that they really don't have a problem with the wider issue


This is true with the Netflix stuff, for sure. But even with Oscar in Jessica Jones Season 2, we still don't really see anything with male love interests the way we do with female love interests. Oscar wasn't a prominent character throughout the whole season, and he initially served to challenge her before becoming a love interest. I agree that conversely, the Netflix shows handle these characters pretty well. Even Karen Page who gets to do a lot more in the show than she ever did in the comics! It was not to highlight that female love interests are never handled well, but more often than not, problematic takes on love interests tend to be female characters rather than male. You really don't often see male characters exist primarily to pine. But female characters largely had for a long time, and it still happens today even with much stronger efforts (I think a lot more creators are conscientious of making all characters feel real and full because of representation issues, but also primarily because it just inherently makes for better stories and writing. It just does come up sometimes.)


And, c'mon, this is an accomplished scientist--doesn't mean she can't appreciate some good abs, but you'd think she'd be at least a little less shallow!


Yeah, totally. I tend to get flack sometimes for this, but my criticism isn't that she finds Chris Hemsworth attractive. Women are people too and feel physical, sexual attraction to people. There is nothing wrong with her appreciating his attractiveness. The issue is that there are several times she is so attracted to his body that she literally can't focus. Most humans, regardless of gender, don't actually operate this way. (I also kinda don't like it just because I have some issues with the way he is presented as the ideal masculine form, and I think that sort of thing can be damaging for young boys who might wind up hating their bodies for not looking like Chris Hemsworth or Chris Evans, which is almost literally impossible for most of us not millionaire actors to achieve in our lifetimes. But I can touch more upon that later.)


I'm trying to decide if she's better or worse than Betty--Betty's relationship with Banner certainly felt more real than Jane's


That's the thing. Betty's felt like, oh, it's because they did have a real relationship. It's still boring as hell (and I have issues with the fact that she gives up her healthy relationship with the man she had a house with just to go back to the man who literally turns into a monster when he's angry). But her attraction was based more on something deeper than just, "aaaaaaaabs."



Phase I Marvel is certainly very tame by comparison. I do think they got better when they started embracing more of the comic book elements. But I still largely enjoy Phase I. (I actually kinda really liked the first Captain America movie. That's next. Not sure when I'll have time to watch a movie.)


I think visually, my biggest gripe with Thor is the dutch angle thing. I REALLY DON'T GET IT.

Posted February 1st by Jet Presto
Edit Filter Quote Report

Ok! So a bit of an essay impending regarding what I think Thor says about masculinity (subtext, that is, not like, the filmmaker set out to make this point):

Superheroes offer a kind of perfect example of how people view gender. Given the predominantly male domination of the industry for decades, we have seen female superheroes drawn by male artists that highlight the sexual form. Large breasts, long legs, a butt that stands out, smooth flowing hair...it always seemed that the ideal feminine form was sexual in nature, which makes sense when you have almost no one but men creating, drawing, and writing them. Male characters, conversely, have been depicted as having muscles on top of muscles. Even the lanky Spider-man almost always has a vivid musculature. This makes sense. Muscles represent brute strength, which is so often viewed as power. And for a long time, masculinity has been defined by power. It's why kind of lanky, physically middling guys like me were called "fag" and "sissy" on the high school football team. We aren't as strong physically as the rest, so we were deemed weak and worthless. When I refused to get into a fight with someone who was saying shit about me in high school, I was again called a "wimp" or a "pussy." My lack of physical strength and my lack of aggression made me a target of ridicule among other men. There can be no mistaking the choices of those demeaning terms, though. By not fitting the typical mold of "masculine," they were questioning not just my sexuality, but my gender as well.

I'm speaking personally here, but it's not hard to find this has been the experience of a lot of other men who grew up never quite fitting that typical box of "masculine."

Where Thor starts off in the film, he is pretty much a representation of that ideal form of masculinity. Physically, he is stronger than the rest. His value to Asgard is in his ability as a warrior, a fighter. He is aggressive, seeking out revenge on the Frost Giants. He is eager to war. (It's a little telling, too, that early in the film, Loki - the skinny dude who relies on words and out-witting opponents, is mocked for failing to get by Heimdall, but Loki always seemed an outsider with his more traditional warrior buddies. I'm not going into Lady Sif here to stay a little more focused.) In most of action cinema, audiences are *supposed* to think highly of men of action. Anthony Hopkins is such a strong presence in the film, and he knocks it out of the park, really. Many in the audience probably see the wisdom in Odin's preaching of patience and reconciliation. But Thor is the hero, and he fulfills the traditional male action hero role. (In some ways, he is the opposite of Captain America, who we grow to like more *because* he disobeyed orders and became a man of action rather than diplomacy.) And so most viewers will probably still be rooting for Thor to some extent, because we *want* to see him take out some of those cold, evil-looking Frost Giants.

And, of course, Thor is cut like a rock. His body looks very much like the long-held vision of the ideal male form.

With all this, a near living embodiment of the ideal masculine, he winds up making things worse. I mean, the moment he decides to fight in Juttenheim is when one of the Frost Giant calls him "Princess," thus his masculinity is being challenged.
Later, Odin chastises him and strips him of his power (which, ya know, make of it what you will that Thor's power seems to come from a hammer, which has never been used as a metaphor for any male anatomy before). So, Odin cuts him off from his...hammer...and that depowers him. Sure, he still has physical strength and he is still a trained warrior, but he's forced to confront early the fact that a handful of doctors were able to restrain him.

Thor's character arc is obviously one of a hot-headed, immature boy learning to become a wiser, more mature leader. But it is telling that a big part of this development involves him taking on a more nurturing role. We see him making breakfast and cleaning the table. We see him kind of tucking Jane into bed (something he also kind of does with Erik Selvig after a night of drinking, too). These are generally regarded as more "domestic" tasks, historically fulfilled by women. During the final action sequence, he *doesn't* engage in the fighting, instead taking on a more supportive role. Again, these are often the roles in action cinema given to women, since usually it is the manly men doing the manly fighting.

So in essence, his arc of becoming a mature man and a capable leader requires him to *reject* those concepts of ideal masculinity. He becomes truly worthy of the throne once he learns to reject the traditional male value of aggression and physical force, and learns to nurture and support in other ways. To learn the value of talking rather than fighting - which is something most young boys and men have to grow out of themselves. (I mean, there's a reason the military has a long history of tying young men's sense of self-worth to their capacity to fight. We also see this idea in Captain America, where Steve Rogers feels like a lesser man because he can't join the military and fight like all the other men. He even gets bullied and mocked for lacking the physicality for it.) Where many men don't outgrow viewing their masculinity and gender identity being connected to their aggression or physical strength, many men do. But it's a thing all men must grapple with, regardless of whether they continue to subscribe to that take on masculinity or not.

At the same time, it doesn't say that *everything* from that traditional set of masculine criteria is worthless. Thor's ability to fight, especially upon regaining access to his hammer, is still a key factor in saving Asgard from...well, ok, so here's where it gets a little muddy. He's saving Asgard from...something...but it's sort of hard to tell what. Loki just killed Laufey, which could still very much provoke a war with Juttenheim. And it wasn't exactly like Loki was doing anything that horrible to any Asgardian other than Thor, who he tried to keep banished instead of killed until Lady Sif and the Warriors Three set off to bring him back. So, it seemed like Loki would have been ok with Thor alive but stuck on Earth.

Either way, Thor's physical strength is still viewed as having value. Being capable of "action" is still valued. It isn't completely rejecting *all* aspects of traditional concepts of masculinity or the ideal masculinity. It is just ultimately saying that one's manhood is not exclusively measured in your ability to punch someone really hard or beat them up or kill them.

God, I hope I didn't exceed the character limit...

Posted February 3rd by Jet Presto
Edit Filter Quote Report

To be fair, when we say "traditional masculinity" nowadays, we essentially mean "imbecilic tryhard masculinity as practiced by uneducated dullards with no sense of perspective or forethought". Despite the fact that modern society provides us with all of the resources necessary to extend masculinity into further valor than ever before, tiny minds are intimidated by the wide scope of the true masculine aesthetic and thus retreat into simplistic, masturbatory, consumeristic self-assuredness that is constantly manipulated by others for profit. Don't forget to buy beer, red meat and some diesel for your truck on your way to pick up your wife's son from in-school suspension. That means you're a big boy!

I'm not angling for a "no true masculinity" angle here to discount your post; I agree with you. I'm just throwing my two logs on the pyre.

Posted February 3rd by nullfather
Edit Filter Quote Report

I plan on seeing INto the Spiderverse and Escape room that's abouti t/

Posted February 3rd by tnu
Edit Filter Quote Report
tnu

Surely the God of Mischief is the definition of Chaotic Neutral, yes? ;)


True neutral. Loki's played by lawful rules many times (including impersonating Odin several times).

But yes, I love Loki, and I think he had no real competition for the title of "best MCU film villain" until Killmonger showed up


The more I hear about killmonger, the more I wonder why I haven't seen black panther yet.

yeah, the films do a much better job of convincing me why he'd want to be with her than why she'd want to be with him.


What's strange is that this never really goes away -- even in infinity war pepper is standoffish until tony decides to go out into space or w/e.




Posted February 15th by Xhin
Edit Filter Quote Report
Xhin
Sky's the limit

Sorry, Xhin. I've had a pretty crazy week


You and me both. This is -- what -- two weeks later?

I've read your post and don't really have anything to add. I agree with you -- what you're basically saying is that Thor is about a traditionally masculine persona tempering itelf in order to better serve Asgard. Or something.

To be fair, when we say "traditional masculinity" nowadays, we essentially mean "imbecilic tryhard masculinity as practiced by uneducated dullards with no sense of perspective or forethought".


I've noticed this trend too, though I think ultimately it comes down to a "no true scotsman" fallacy. The more you achieve your own vision of masculinity (or any ideal really), the more everyone else who's doing the same thing seems to lack committment.

Posted February 15th by Xhin
Edit Filter Quote Report
Xhin
Sky's the limit
Load next page Load rest of pages
Reply to: Marvel Retrospective: Thor (2011)
Enter your message here

Site Rules | Complaints Process | Give Feedback Facebook Page
GTX0 © 2009-2019 Xhin GameTalk © 1999-2008 lives on
You are not forgotten, Kevin, Liane, Norma, Jason, and Garrett