One major concern the Thor movie has always had over its patriotic counterpart, Captain America, is that it's a much tougher sell. Mainstream audiences aren't familiar with the Mighty God of Thunder, at least not the Marvel Comics version of him.
People can relate to Steve Rogers, the scrawny kid who becomes a symbol of freedom and a beacon of hope against the evil Red Skull during World War II, but a long-blond haired viking god who can hammer-time otherworldly armies while speaking Shakespearian-esque dialogue? Not so much. So how are director Kenneth Branagh and Marvel Studios going to make their Asgardian Avenger more accessible (and bankable) to theater goers?
People know Captain America. He's one of more recognizable characters out of Marvel's library of 5000+. When Cap "died" in the comics a few years ago during the infamous Civil War crossover event in the comics, it made mainstream news headlines. Thor and his funky helmet never had such attention or acknowledgement until now, with the release of the second Thor movie trailer.
Marvel Studios opted to go with an unknown actor to take on the title role in Thor instead of an established Hollywood star. They want to create a star and have him locked in for many films down the road, helping his introduction out with a supporting cast of celebrities including Sir Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman.
From the footage we've seen in the Thor trailers, we can see that a lot of it takes place here on modern Earth with a healthy dose of light comedy, especially surrounding Thor himself and his interactions with humans. This was intentional, as Branagh explains in his interview with Entertainment Weekly:
"I was convinced when it was in development that part of this happening on contemporary Earth was absolutely the right way to go. And with the fantastical element we’re asking people to go along with, one way to help that happen, and allow it to be dramatic and serious when it needs to be, is to have a sense of humor about it. The film was never designed to be portentous or self-important. It wants to have a really good time enjoying the consequences of the culture clash."
"We always felt there was a very strong mine of material in the fish-out-of-water. When you reduce a man who is arrogant by temperament, extremely oppressive and used to having his own way, dressed, um … unusually, you are immediately in a position where you have comic friction. This is a guy who continues to live his own reality. In his mind, he’s still prince of the cosmos and he’ll do what he wants. People from Earth getting in his way and asking silly questions is immaterial."
From the Thor trailers, we all know how and why Thor ends up on Earth. He does something wrong, against the wishes of his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and is exiled to our planet to learn humility. Even as a powerful God, he makes mistakes and has character faults, helping make him a character viewers can relate to instead of a perfect being, who would be too good compared to the other teammates of The Avengers.
"Even in the case of a god, audiences — paradoxically — enjoy recognizing the human traits. In Thor’s case, we are thrilled by his powers, but I think we relate to his emotions. There are some flaws, some foibles, sibling rivalries at work, and romantic entanglements. The way into making a god attractive is to find out where his experience connects to a human one."
From the limited amount of footage so far, it seems that Branagh has accomplished this. We know there's a definite connection between Hemsworth and Portman on screen, and the humor is very evident. How do you feel about the live-action incarnation of Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth?
Thor is written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Rene Russo, Clark Gregg, Jaimie Alexander, Colm Feore, Tadanobu Asano, Joshua Dallas and Joe Gatt.
Thor opens in North America May 6, 2011 and in U.S. theaters and on April 29, 2011 for the UK.