“Thor” is a fun movie.
It doesn’t make any pretense of being “believable.”
So then it gets to breeze blithely past all the plot contradictions.
Like how in the world do you drop people off from
to earth and not have the worldwide media at your door?
Can you imagine the network frenzy? Ah,
well, here we’re hearkening to a simpler era---more like what happened in
“E.T.,” when not even the neighbors noticed anything unusual, but a
mysterious government agency shows up to try to take over everything.
But, of course, some interplanetary stuff is beyond their ken.
Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the chief of
the Norse gods, though still extraordinarily powerful, is getting old, and
truth be told, a bit burned out. It can be exhausting being the chief god,
mainly because the palace intrigue never ends. He has two grown sons, Thor
(Chris Hemsworth, and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who actually is secretly
adopted, from that time Odin knocked some heads in a rival pantheon and
wound up with an orphan baby.
Thor is supposed to be the heir
apparent, but something happens on his coronation day:
a raid from that same rival pantheon.
Odin doesn’t want another all-out war, but Thor can’t help but go
over there with a few of his warrior buddies and try to retaliate.
He, too, wreaks some havoc, but Odin is so upset over the breach of
the carefully-orchestrated peace treaty that he bans Thor from
, and sends him plummeting to earth, robbed of his supernatural powers, and
separated from his precious hammer, an unstoppable weapon.
We’ve actually switched from
thinking about Father God-sends-son-to-earth-from-heaven analogies to
something more like the Prodigal Son. Odin
is so stricken with grief over his loyal but impatient Prodigal that he just
takes to his bed in a coma-like stupor. Thor
is left to his own devices to work out his hot-headedness, and meanwhile
Loki, acting conciliatory but secretly the jealous sibling, is fully
prepared to make a play for the throne himself, and send down a
super-powered avenger to dispatch his brother and end the royal rivalry once
Thor, meanwhile, has to adjust to
living like a mortal, and in a modern culture he doesn’t understand.
(We’ll just vault over the language problems by making him speak
American English, though with a lilt, like he’s really Australian, which
he is.) Fortunately, he encounters
some really nice people, a scientific research team headed up by Jane Foster
(Natalie Portman), who happens to notice that he’s handsome, strong,
confident, and brave. OK, he’s also
delusional, but we can work on that part.
Loki traverses the time/space warp
long enough to appear before Thor and lie to him, by telling him that dear
ol’ Dad has already died, and there’s no use disobeying his dying wishes
and coming back now. But Loki
doesn’t count on Thor’s warrior friends going to warn him that Loki
plans to usurp the throne, by betraying their comatose father to his
enemies. And, of course, that angle
about a virile god being interested in a sweet young mortal is as old
as...Hercules (also see the mysterious Genesis 6:4).
Naturally, we want things to be right
both on heaven and on earth. Well, at
least in the hallowed halls of Valhalla and in a certain small town in
. Just don’t think about the
inconsistencies or the theology, put on your 3-D glasses, pass the popcorn,
and enjoy this imaginative yarn. What’s
next, cowboys and aliens?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor,
United Presbyterian Church,