Did ‘The Avengers’ Connection Hurt ‘Thor’?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 3:11 pm,

Thor movie discussion Avengers Did The Avengers Connection Hurt Thor?

Now that Marvel’s Thor has struck gold at the box office – two weeks running – it’s high time to continue a discussion that we began last year with the release of Iron Man 2 – namely, is Marvel Studios’ ambitious shared continuity approach to next year’s epic superhero movie event, The Avengers, a sign of how superhero movie franchise should be built, or an experiment that shouldn’t be repeated?

Before we get into what is sure to be a divisive topic amongst comic book movie fans, make sure you’ve checked out the following posts:

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It should also go without saying that the topics discussed in this article will contain MAJOR THOR SPOILERS – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

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At this point we can say with assurance that most people enjoyed the Thor experience. The movie has a solid composite review scores on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, a solid Screen Rant Review, and is quickly approaching $350 million at the worldwide box office on a $150 million budget. Needless to say, Marvel Studios is still in the game as far as building its Avengers universe goes.

However, for all the positives surrounding Thor the film (like any other) isn’t immune to criticisms – the most common being that it felt like an uneven movie, made of two parts (the fantastical Asgard scenes and the more grounded Earth scenes) that never fully meshed together. Some people loved the Earth stuff, but didn’t love the Asgard stuff as much; other people felt the exact opposite way. However, the question here is not which realm served Thor best, but whether or not the film’s obligation as a lead-in to The Avengers was a detracting factor in how the movie’s story was spun.

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The S.H.I.E.L.D. Factor

Thor and SHIELD agent Coulson Did The Avengers Connection Hurt Thor?

If you’re not a cinephille who has memorized the 3-act structure employed by a lot of films (definitely summer blockbusters and DEFINITELY Marvel films), allow us to break down Thor into its 3 core parts:

  1. ACT I: Thor’s back story in Asgard, battle with the Frost Giants, and banishment.
  2. ACT II: Thor on Earth meeting Jane Foster, trying to reclaim his hammer, and “learning humility.”
  3. ACT III: Thor regaining his powers, beating up bad guys and saving the world(s).

If there is one thing that seems to be generally agreed upon, it’s that Thor‘s second act is its weakest. Second acts are typically reserved for the bulk of character development – in which a protagonist grows/develops/learns their lesson while the conflict of the story simultaneously approaches its climax. In Thor, this meant the titular hero learning NOT to be an arrogant bastard, so that he could grow into the wise hero his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) wanted him to be. Thor’s relationship with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) was intended to keep him grounded, and to motivate him to change, since the qualities Odin hoped he’d learn would also make him a worthy man for Jane’s affections.

That’s a great story to tell, and an interesting way to explore a nigh omnipotent superhero – de-powering him and making humility, compassion and wisdom the keys to re-gaining his powers. It would have been a slower, but more interesting approach to telling a superhero story (riskier for sure) but on paper it sounds intriguing. Other films might have invested full time and attention in these second act developments; however, director Kenneth Branagh had a bigger sandbox to fill – one that included Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), his S.H.I.E.L.D. faction, and even an unsatisfying cameo by an Avenger (Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye).

"We're gonna ram some 'Avengers' stuff up in here and you're gonna like it!"

Compared to the Iron Man 2 team, the small squadron of writers who worked on Thor‘s script did a much better job of weaving S.H.I.E.L.D. and all those Avengers Easter eggs into the story.  After all, if a magical hammer like Mjolnir crashed on American soil, and nobody (not even Stan Lee!) could move it, top secret government spooks would definitely be all over it. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s involvement in Thor was clearly organic and logical, whereas their involvement in Iron Man 2 was clunky and awkward. Points for that.

On the other hand, when you have to split your second act between tying together a cinematic universe AND the proposed epic transformation that’s supposed to take place in your central character, ultimately there are going to be sacrifices…

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What Thor was missing…

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TAGS: thor

111 Comments

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  1. short answer: yes
    long answer: yes yes yes absolutely yes

    • Earn your title here, “Words.”

  2. What made the pixar movie Cars so heartfelt is the relationship the hero fostered with the small-town folks, teaching him humility and making him a better car. Thor could have had the same premise, and it would have been beautiful.

  3. “In the film, Thor was essentially presented as a character who always led with brawn before brains – the complete opposite of his nefarious brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Sadly, this aspect of the character was never fully fleshed out – and in my opinion, would’ve made for a much better movie.”

    While this is largely irrelevant to the topic at hand…I found this to be the weakest part of the film (and most comic book movie hero/villain dynamics), but not necessarily for the reasons stated. I thought that they made it all too clear that the heroic Thor was the brawn, and the villainous Loki was the brains. Wouldn’t it be nice, for once, to have a brainy hero up against a brawny foe? Even in movies where the hero is brainy, like The Dark Knight, the hero ends up just being a brute, while the villain is incredibly intelligent with little physical prowess. It seems that in Hollywood, intelligence = conniving, and brute strength = loveable hero.

  4. I agree. Having to weave in all this SHIELD stuff took the film down a few notches. Loved the Aasgard stuff but the earth stuff was pretty mundane.

  5. Like many, I don’t think the SHIELD factor really hurt Thor. Thought it was a nice balance and made sense. As for the whole turning over a new leaf overnight feeling about learning humility, I think one thing that many have skipped over is that when Odin sends the hammer down to Earth, he first speaks to it and “activates” (if you will) a message on it in that Celtic symbol. When Thor finally gets to the hammer and can’t pick it up, he sees the symbol and likely gets the message. Is it a bit of a cop-out? Sure, but it’s a convenient plot device to help move the movie along. I could be wrong as I’m not a huge follower of Thor in the comics though.

  6. I dont think the S.H.I.E.L.D. suff hurt Thor either,but it wasnt really needed.
    They were only there to give Hawkeye an excuse to showup and then,he did NOTHING!
    Thor wont even remember him when they meet in The Avengers,because he never saw him.
    Pointless.

  7. I agree that Thor could have been better, but that’s Marvel and their promotional hype, like I buy a Fantastic Four comic and Spider-Man shows up while they’re saving the world for no reason other than to jog our brains that Spider-Man is a part of the Marvel Universe. I have no interest in Spider-Man, I’m reading FF, but there he is. That might work for comics fans, but movie fans are much more fickle and not as loyal, they might not show up next time because of the stupid distractions. The Avengers and Shield thing is cool, I will see most CBM’s, but I would prefer to enjoy these characters on their own terms. A movie universe is not a comic book universe, and both audiences should be treated with respect, not Stan Lee hypberbolic showmanship..

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