Joel: I guess I should start out saying that I’m not a huge fan of Thor. I always felt like he broke a lot of the realism that Marvel strives for. I really only liked it when he was written as a possibly-delusional super soldier in the beginning of “The Ultimates.” That said, I enjoyed a lot of the humor this time around, but felt it clashed with the barren wastelands that made up a lot of the scenery and the overall plot of “destroying the universe.”
The geek in me does like how they’re treating the Aether (the MacGuffin, or plot-driving artifact) from this film and the Tesseract from “The Avengers,” even if that’s not how they are in the comics. I love when they streamline stuff for film, because the comics get way too convoluted, even for fans.
Isaac: It flirted with being dark, but that was always undercut immediately by something light. There are some character deaths and “deaths” and a decent amount of destruction, but none of it had any weight. It’s a little cruel to say, but I thought the film was light in tone and substance. Avengers made that work beautifully. Unfortunately, the same talent isn’t here to work it’s magic again.
I agree about the humor. If I listed my favorite scenes, they would all be comedic. Loki, in particular, just steals it. As far as Thor goes, I’m not all that familiar with his character in the comics. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to Norse mythology, so when I found out about him I was interested to see what kind of spin Marvel would put on it. He’s never been my favorite character, but I usually enjoy it when he shows up. The streamlining is definitely appreciated, but part of me feels like that’s not what they were actually trying to do. Both the Aether and Malekith, our antagonist, are painfully underdeveloped. Despite Odin’s narration at the start of the film, I never got the sense that either was a real threat to the characters or the universe.
Joel: Yeah, Malekith gets Two-Faced after his first fight with the good guys, and even when he gets boosted up, Thor isn’t very challenged by him. And why did the Dark Elves even want to destroy the universe? They seemed to be getting along just fine in the current state of everything. The only reason there were so few of them is because their own leader sacrificed them in the first two minutes of the movie. That ending, though. I obviously don’t want to spoil anything, but how does that character overthrow the person who’s basically the most powerful being in existence?
I’m also getting a little tired of Loki. I guess the point is to just hate how smug and conniving he is, which I do, but I just want him to get his Hulk-fisted due at this point. And for it to stick.
Isaac: The usual villain thing. He once ruled the universe and now he can’t be happy unless he’s ruling again. Malekith actually highlighted why Loki is going to be around for a while. I enjoyed every minute he was on screen, but he has something more than just charisma. He’s the only memorable villain that Marvel has right now. I don’t think they could afford to get rid of him, even if they wanted to.
What did you think of the human characters? I liked Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings had some funny moments, but I felt like even Portman as the love interest was almost tangential to the plot. She wasn’t given much to do and if she hadn’t been directly involved with the Aether, Earth could have been left out of the film entirely. That also would have allowed us to explore Asgard, its culture, etc., rather than just seeing more of it. I do want to mention the things that I liked about the film. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are really good. They can hold a scene on their own, but they have such great chemistry together. That alone elevated the movie from a slump that it was starting to fall into towards the end of the second act. Portman is charming as love interest Jane Foster. Even though I was questioning her character’s importance, she made good use of her screen time. If there’s anything we can rely on by now, it’s that Marvel will throw enough money behind its films to guarantee some gorgeous visuals. There’s still this sort of smallness that I was feeling. It just didn’t seem expansive, but the detail in the set and costume design was impressive. The last fight scene was a lot of fun. I was not expecting our heroes to start playing Portal with the universe. It continues a trend from “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3.” If nothing else, they can get incredibly creative with these climactic fight scenes.