WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THOR 2 ABOUND. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE YET TO SEE THE MOVIE.
DOOM DELUISE: So Thor 2.
You attentive readers out there may remember, when Jim and I sat down to review the first Thor a few years ago, we were in agreement that we both enjoyed the movie.
As Jim said at the time, he thought it was better than Iron Man 2, but not quite as good as Iron Man 1.
Now that some years have passed, and we’ve seen several more Avengers-related movies, how would you rank this new Thor edition in the Marvel pantheon?
JIM DOOM: Well, since you teed it up that way, I’d like to say that I recently re-watched Thor 1, and I thought it held up incredibly well.
DOOM DELUISE: Ditto! I liked Thor 1 even more the second time I watched it, about a week and a half ago.
JIM DOOM: And in some ways, I would put Thor 2 above it.
I was very pleasantly surprised by Thor 2 — it did much of the things I loved about Thor 1, and improved on the things I didn’t.
I did not see that coming.
I figured it’d be enjoyable, but I heard it was getting some poor reviews, so at best I was hoping for a decent filler movie.
I guess when it comes to the Marvel movies that set up the Avengers movies, I should’ve known better.
Though I’m glad I went in with low expectations. That’s always more fun.
DOOM DELUISE: Absolutely. I had a very similar reaction, though it took me a day or two to get there. When I first saw it, I had a lot of fun in the theatre, but, and I think this is why it’s received some negative or middling reviews, but I found myself growing tired of how familiar it seemed while I was watching.
It’s kind of formulaic, and it’s a similar feel to the first movie, and we see the same familiar faces. I know that’s the nature of a movie in a series, but it almost felt like overkill, and it felt like it wasn’t trying anything new.
But it doesn’t have to try anything new. What it does, it does well, and faulting a sequel for feeling too familiar is a really flimsy complaint.
Like I said, it took me a few days to stop thinking of it too critically and simply accept it for what it is: A super fun Thor movie.
JIM DOOM: Well, one thing it did do new was give us a tease for a Loki face turn.
I think these movies are showing how well Marvel is thinking in the long-term.
They’re planting seeds here and there, telling stories on a small scale and a large scale at the same time.
And I think to do too much disruption on a small scale could be counterproductive on the large.
I also liked how much this movie shifted the stage from Earth to Asgard (or other non-Earth places). So I’m fully satisfied with the conclusion that they didn’t just create a re-tread of Thor 1.
DOOM DELUISE: Totally. I also really liked how much more money they clearly had budgeted for this movie. Heimdall’s little outpost was so much prettier in this movie than in the first Thor. And the Bifrost teleportation effects were amazing in this installment.
The stuff in Asgard in Thor 1 seemed a bit cheap and movie-ish, if that makes sense, but it felt much more real this time around, thanks to the increased budget.
JIM DOOM: Since we’re both sitting here singing its praises, want to talk about things we didn’t like?
DOOM DELUISE: Sure. The thing that makes Marvel characters so great, in my opinion, is that they’re these huge, mythological characters that have firm roots in reality. Usually that means they’re tethered to regular human characters that make them vulnerable and interesting.
I realize they devote a big chunk of time to the Natalie Portman / Thor love story in both these movies, but I was kind of annoyed with it this time around, because it seemed so much more realistic and believable, but they still marginalized it quite a bit (though not as bad as when he no-sold her existence in The Avengers), to the point where they didn’t give us any sort of conclusion to their story until after the credits.
It works so well here, I was annoyed that they didn’t give it a bit more weight and closure, is what I’m saying.
JIM DOOM: Wait, there was something about their relationship after the credits?
DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, when he teleports in, and they kiss.
JIM DOOM: Man, I left after the first mid-credits scene.
DOOM DELUISE: I thought that WAS the first mid-credits scene.
JIM DOOM: Hmm. Did you see a scene with The Collector?
DOOM DELUISE: Oh, ok, yeah, that was the first mid-credits scene. After all the credits roll, he teleports in and kisses her.
They don’t say anything to each other, though.
JIM DOOM: The #1 thing I didn’t like was that the bad guys looked like evil Teletubbies (editor’s note: Click here for image comparison.).
DOOM DELUISE: I was thinking Putties from the Power Rangers.
JIM DOOM: The #2 thing I didn’t like was that the bad guys seemed like Star Wars or Star Trek villains. We can get laser battles in the other Marvel movies; I want swords and axes and bows and arrows in Asgard movies.
The #3 thing I didn’t like was that I felt like the ending battle resolution needed to be spelled out a little better. The main bad guy said it was too late to stop the Aether, and Thor said something like “But I can stop you!” and he did, but that apparently stopped the Aether.
Since they went so far as to script someone saying that stopping the bad guy wouldn’t stop the Aether, I wanted a little explanation as to how the exact opposite was actually true.
DOOM DELUISE: But it didn’t stop the Aether, did it? I mean, it contained it, but it’s still very much a problem.
JIM DOOM: Well, it stopped it from being unleashed upon and consuming the 9 realms or whatever.
Which is what I assumed he was talking about.
DOOM DELUISE: Oh yeah, okay.
JIM DOOM: Like he was all “I’ve unleashed it! You can’t stop it!” and then he dies and oops, it’s stopped.
I think that could’ve been explained away pretty easily, and maybe it was pre-explained when Jane was talking about how they had to keep him busy for 8 minutes or whatever.
So maybe by delaying him by tearing him into pieces (which I thought was a pretty good way of dispatching the villain) stopped his conscious unleashing long enough for the realms to come back out of alignment.
I’m not saying there’s not an explanation and that they didn’t build a good reason for it to turn out that way — I’m just saying if there was one, it went over my head.
DOOM DELUISE: I think that’s sort of been a problem with several of the Marvel Avengers movies. The main gadget or whatever that harnesses all this energy is sort of nebulous and poorly defined. Some characters seem to just naturally understand these huge weapons with unlimited power (like in Avengers, where they’re like, “If we just poke it with Loki’s stick, it’ll shut the portal but don’t ask me how I know that!”), but there isn’t a concrete set of rules for how they operate. And if there are, I must go to the bathroom at all the wrong times.
Because I missed that part.
JIM DOOM: “Bad energy is coming through an inter-dimensional portal!” has been a problem in 2 of the past 3 Marvel movies, now that I think about it.
But I’ve read that the Aether and the Cosmic Cube are considered 2 of the 6 Infinity gems in the Marvel Movie universe.
DOOM DELUISE: I’m resisting the urge to bring up my argument about “superhero movies and their shorthand, common language” problem. (editor’s note: as originally – – and poorly – – described during Doom & Doomer: The Wolverine)
JIM DOOM: I think I just don’t follow the language choice in your shorthand theory; to me it’s just kind of an unimaginative reliance on similar threats. Saying “like” all the time isn’t a language issue, it’s a usage issue.
So I think basically, in most ways, I agree with your big theory. I just wasn’t really clicking with the way you were describing it.
If you want to say that these movies have recycled some of the same threats and situations, I would absolutely agree.
DOOM DELUISE: In my defense, I was putting words to it for the first time. I still don’t think I have the theory entirely ironed out.
JIM DOOM: Well, I do think you are onto something.
DOOM DELUISE: Another thing I didn’t like about this movie: The humor is oftentimes misplaced. Particularly, the subway scene.
Thor’s in the middle of this huge fight for the universe, and then he takes the subway to get back to the fight. Everybody laughs, sure, but then it cuts to the main villain finishing his master stroke, and I was just thinking, “THOR YOU BOOB, YOU’RE GONNA MISS IT.”
I’m all for comic relief, and I think the Marvel Avengers franchise has used it extraordinarily well, but sometimes, it’s a bit too much.
JIM DOOM: I thought it did tread on the wrong side of the line a few times in this movie, but only enough to make me cringe a little and not enough to make me outright dislike it.
There were no scenes like walking into the pet store and saying “I need a horse” but the scene where they walk into the apartment and Thor hangs his hammer and there’s a bunch of really quick dialogue shooting in all directions was almost as good for me.
DOOM DELUISE: Chris Hemsworth makes those scenes work really well. He has great comedic delivery.
JIM DOOM: Yeah. Totally. They couldn’t do as many fish-out-of-water scenes in this movie and be believable, but they still found a way to mine that disconnect for some good laughs without taking away from the drama.
I think that’s something these Marvel movies do really well — their humor comes from well defined characters and a commitment to the material, rather than at the expense of it.
DOOM DELUISE: Bingo. Even the stuff with Dr. Selvig running around naked, acting all crazy-like, didn’t thud for me, because it makes sense from his character’s standpoint. His brain was possessed by a god the last time we saw him, and he nearly unraveled the fabric of our universe.
I can see why he’d lose his marbles a bit.
JIM DOOM: Well shoot, man. I don’t know how we liven up this review. We basically agree on everything.
Good job, Marvel.
DOOM DELUISE: Yeah. They know what they’re doing, and they do it really well.
In their Marvel Cinematic Universe, that is. I heard that Fox is going to try to tie together the X-Men with the Fantastic Four universe, rebooting the latter next year, to try to mimic the success of these movies. That sounds terrible.
JIM DOOM: Ugh.
DOOM DELUISE: It’s just what the world was clamoring for: The Invisible Woman teaming up with… Storm?
JIM DOOM: Yuck. That sounds so bad.
Is it Fox who is doing the four different series on Netflix? Or is that Marvel?
Who has Daredevil now? Did the other studio let those rights lapse?
DOOM DELUISE: That’s Marvel.
JIM DOOM: Oh, ok good.
I just got worried that would be Fox trying to pull that off.
DOOM DELUISE: Nope, it’s all Marvel. They’re doing Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones, all culminating in a Defenders miniseries.
JIM DOOM: Have you been watching Agents of SHIELD? I’ve heard that’s pretty bad…
DOOM DELUISE: I watched the first episode. Gave up midway through. It’s really not good.
The pilot, anyway, has every character using that ultra-cutesy Joss Whedon dialogue that only a few select actors can pull off without sounding idiotic.
Oh man, there was so much bantering.
JIM DOOM: Hopefully they get their act together before trying to pull off something that much more ambitious.
DOOM DELUISE: Well, yeah, I’m willing to forgive Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as being a rare misstep, because they’re usually so good at putting their creative talent with onscreen talent that clicks and compliments each other, so if this is their one misfire, I’m okay with it.
So do you have any closing thoughts on Thor 2? We seem to both be on the same page as far as thinking this was a pretty great “filler” story, while still doing a decent job of advancing the overall Avengers story.
JIM DOOM: I was expecting filler, but I felt like it was much better than that.
We haven’t even touched on this, but one of the things I liked most about this movie was how it showed Thor’s growth without hitting you over the head with it at all.
Thor 1 was about the child needing to become a man.
In Thor 2, we saw how Thor was wiser in many ways than Odin. He was king material, but he went through that change in a way that was so true to his character that the evolution is almost unnoticeable unless you’re thinking about it.
DOOM DELUISE: I totally agree. And that line, where he says, “I’d rather be a good man than a great king,” is so perfectly placed. When he leaves that scene with Odin (Loki), you can see that his transformation has been huge. He’s a much different character than when he was introduced. And it’s been really cool seeing it happen.
Even with the way he handled Loki, he shows a great level of maturity and growth.
Especially regarding Loki’s “death.”
JIM DOOM: Yeah so I think to call this movie “filler” — which it easily could have been — is a disservice to how much this movie did really well to advance the Thor universe.
DOOM DELUISE: Well, I put it in quotation marks, because it’s sort of set up and supposed to be filler, but it’s much more than that.
I think this might be the closest we will ever come to being in complete agreement about a movie.
JIM DOOM: We are like Thor and Loki.
Teaming up to fight evil.
Only plotting to kill each other in secret.
You’re probably Loki because you have black hair and I have a godlike six-pack.