SPOILER FREE – I PROMISE
Ignore EVERY Thor movie before this! I’m serious, they are a handful of Tylenol PM and a lone glass of wine while you watch a clueless studio try to paint-by-numbers. I’ve watched ducks mating with more finesse than those place-holders in storytelling; because at their core, that’s all they did. Thor movies were only one step above the Hulk ones. Which is why this one should not have worked. And then the trailers came out…
They had a lot to make up for-
The first problem with the preceding movies is how unrelatable the main character was. Movie 1- Neither myself nor anyone I know has god-like powers or responsibilities. So how do we empathize with a childish god that has been punished by being turned into one of us? Insult aside, it was predictable and felt heavy-handed because it was. Movie 2-Was so forgettable I had to google it. 90% of it happens on a world that’s supposed to be so perfect it was due for a crisis. Again, the vibe is, this is Asgard, they can handle it and this is connected to me how? He was the most two-dimensional Avenger unless he was opposite the other team members. Movie 3- Should have been just like them. Hell, the title alone could have squashed it.
Thor is FINALLY relatable because he’s #Adulting
In the first scene, we meet an Avengers trained demi-god on a mission that’s finally bigger than himself. He’s learned the value of playing loose and fast and so have the writers. He’s cracking jokes like Stark, he’s playing it cool like Nat, he’s got the altruistic speeches like Rogers, and he’s pushing each play to the limit like Barton. The best part is, nothing is going right. There is a distinct twitch of desperation in his eyes that all of us can relate to as he rushes from one catastrophe to another and learns to ride the waves of destruction. He fails. He gives up, he tries the craziest thing he can think of and he partners with the unexpected with questionable results; much like all of us trying to get through 2017.
More than a collection of good jokes
If you’re afraid they told all the funniest jokes in the trailers, fear not. I haven’t laughed that much since the first Iron Man. They left no moment untouched by either an obvious joke at someone’s expense or a wry nod to past antics. Nothing about this movie takes itself too seriously until it absolutely has to and even then it will toss you a reason to grin defiantly. The colors, music and set design have a shockingly psychedelic look that fits these new worlds and characters in all the right ways. It’s like the perfect tribute to the original comic’s hey-day and Guardians of the Galaxy’s breakout success. And since Thor has his own WFT moment about it, you just accept it with him.
BEST ENSEMBLE EVER
After the Avengers, the writers/directors/studios learned, we like dysfunctional groups of would-be heroes. If they are only barely figuring out that they can make a difference working together, even better. Dr. Strange, who we last saw as a barely holding his own as a protector of earth, is now both refreshing in his command of his powers and hysterical in his ability to keep Thor off balance. Hulk is a whole new level of damaged and weirdly content to be so, and if you have any feelings, you can’t in good conscience argue with him. Loki has found new ways to be horrible and endearing and remains a wild card but Thor is finally learning to plan for that.
I promised not to spoil it
If I say any more, I’ll ruin it. Look, superhero fatigue comes mostly from stories ABOUT what these guys do. They save the day, they always do, always will, and we know it. Those aren’t interesting stories because their focus reduces them to theological exercises in problem-solving. Interesting but at the end of the day, emotionless. But stories about people trying to figure out how to do the job they’ve been given or that was assigned to them and seeing that struggle, now you have our attention. And this is where this movie gets it right. They stopped telling us why we should care and started showing us.
Thor is finally another guy trying to do his job, live up to his father’s expectations, and leave the worlds a better place than he finds them. Meanwhile, other careless, malicious, duty bound, protagonists in their own stories are trying to do the same thing and it’s sabotaging everyone. He solves one problem and two worse ones spring up in their place. His family is fighting him at every turn. His friends that are left are only mildly helpful when they finally take him seriously. Its a completely relatable chaos you want to watch again and again.
You’ve saved many worlds, Thor.
It was about time you saved your own story.
Excuse me…I have to go watch this like 20 more times!!!