In advance of this Friday’s release of “Thor: The Dark World,” MTV News’ intrepid writer Kevin Sullivan put together a list ranking every single Marvel Studios movie. And now, we’re here to tell you that he listed them incorrectly, because “Thor” is clearly the best Marvel Studios movie ever made — and in fact ranks as one of our favorite movies ever made, period. Here’s why the first “Thor” rocks, and if you dismissed it after one viewing, deserves a second chance:
Big Ego, Little Story
Never underestimate the appeal of a simple, straightforward story. Too many movies overcomplicate the plot with mythology, multiple storylines, and far too many characters. “Thor” is about an arrogant guy getting exiled for three days, and learning to be just a little bit nicer. The biggest threat in “Thor” isn’t The Destroyer, or even his half-brother Loki, it’s his own ego… And by the end of the movie, it’s still there, but he’s learned how to manage it better.
God Of Laughter?
If you had asked us before seeing “Thor” which would be the most serious Marvel movie, the God of Thunder would be the first on our list. But the movie is laugh out loud funny at points, from the running joke where Jane keeps running over Thor in her car, to Thor breaking coffee mugs like mugs of mead, to Thor trying to buy a cat he can ride. And unlike a lot of the Marvel movies, it doesn’t depend on the jokes working if you know comics continuity; they just work.
It’s Good For Comics Fans — And Non-Comic Fans
Somehow, Marvel managed to strike a perfect balance between making Thor — a Norse God — work in a world where we’ve only met the technologically powered Iron Man for movie audiences who could care less about the comics… And at the same time, essentially feel exactly like the Thor from the comics. That’s a tricky line to walk, but “Thor” walks it perfectly.
There is no better, more realistic relationship in any superhero movie than the one between Thor and Loki. Loki is no sneering, mustache-twirling bad guy. He’s a heartbroken man who just wants to live up to the expectations of his father, and doesn’t know how. And Thor knows his brother is bad, yet can’t help but love him anyway. Normally, when you watch the bad guy fall off a cliff, you cheer… But at the end of the movie, as Thor watches his brother fall into the cosmos, you feel his anguish.
Speaking of which, the relationship wouldn’t work without the perfect casting of Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor. To a lesser degree, the casting department also nailed it with Anthony Hopkins’ Odin, and Idris Elba as Heimdall… But it’s Hiddleston and Hemsworth who instantly inhabited their roles. They are Loki and Thor.
Branagh, Branagh, Branagh
Most of the Marvel movies have a consistent look… Except “Thor,” which takes it a level beyond thanks to Kenneth Branagh’s crisp, confident direction. In fact, we can credit the Director not just with the look and pace of the film, but the mix of humor, and strong emphasis on Shakespearean level tragedy and family dynamics throughout. Branagh, perhaps more than any other Marvel director, managed to channel the high emotions and over the top theatrics of an old Stan Lee comic book, and made them work for modern audiences.
Most Consistent Marvel Movie
Other than the first five exposition packed minutes, “Thor” is a great time throughout, from start to finish. That’s more than we can say for “Captain America,” which has fans divided on the first and second half, or even “Avengers,” which — let’s be honest — is pretty slow going in the first hour. Even “Iron Man” suffers from some awkwardly improvised sections, and a third act that fizzles the good will from the first two. “Thor,” on the other hand stays balanced throughout, and builds nicely.
What do you think? Is “Thor” an underrated masterpiece? Let us know if the comments below!