Here it is, 2011’s Thor film…or one of them. This one is about Thor and Loki as young, developing heroes. How does it work in order to lead in to that other Thor film?
This film is probably what solidified the idea of Thor Week in my head. I knew I was going to be reviewing two Thor comics and two Thor films, then I found this on Netflix instant. From there, I decided to go through Netflix and see what I could find related to Thor and, well, you’ve seen what that led to.
In May of 2011, Marvel released a film about Thor, the Norse god of Thunder, and his brother Loki, as they go off on an adventure to prove their worth and defy the Frost Giants, inadvertently setting Jotunheim and Asgard at war with one another. Two weeks earlier, a live action film starring Natalie Portman had come out.
I suppose I should start with this question: is Tales of Asgard a better film than Thor? In all honesty, probably not. Did I enjoy it more? A resounding yes. There was fun to be had, and while the plot didn’t follow anything resembling structure, it did tell a story, and what moral there was is not something that’s been done to death in every children’s show ever made.
In all honesty, when I look at Tales of Asgard, that’s kind of what I see: a canceled television show. It has all of the elements: an adaptation of the world of Thor with enough similarities to be connected to the film but enough differences to have leeway in telling its story, younger versions of iconic characters that are clearly not in the same state as they are in the film but could easily grow into them, and a ton of plot points. As for the latter, it gives the impression that six episodes of a television show were written, presented and approved for initial work, until the budget fell through and they decided to make a single film about the length of four episodes instead.
As for the elements, the stars of the film are Matthew Wolf as Thor and Rick Gomez as Loki. As far as I’m concerned, Gomez is the link between this movie and the live action one, because I could have sworn Tom Hiddleston was voicing Loki as I watched this. Loki in this film is a relatively innocent younger brother, with the straight-forward attitude that leads a teen to willfully burn a tavern to the ground because of a brawl and to straight-up murder a good friend who betrays you. This is a rather standard method of writing a sympathetic character who is destined to become a villain; sometimes it works, and sometimes the writer is George Lucas. As for Loki, this is the exact opposite of what the character will eventually be, but for a student this is subtle enough that it was fairly believable, largely because you do not have to know what he will become in order to understand his actions here. I am arguably not evil, yet if I were a powerful wizard as a teenager and were put in the situations Loki is in in this movie, I would have behaved in a similar war. Thor, on the other hand, I have little to comment on. He is a fairly straight-forward character who by his nature is a perpetual adolescent trapped in an adult’s body in the public image, so making him an actual adolescent doesn’t change much except for the fact that he has a sword instead of a hammer. And is still, somehow, more skilled with a hammer than he is with a sword. I can buy it.
The supporting cast is also fairly strong. Tara Strong leads the charge as Sif, in addition to Thor’s three side-kicks, Odin, and a Dark Elf mentor appearing. Each of these has something to do in the plot, which is a huge step up from the largely interchangeable roles that many of them play in the live action film. The fact that there are enough plot points for all these characters does hurt the film, however. There’s no beginning, middle and end, there’s arguably not a climax. Instead, it’s a string of adventures taking place one after another, each with its own resolution, none of which feels particularly greater than any other one.
Thor: Tales of Asgard is a show that never happened, and one that I would have been interested in seeing as a full season. As a film, it feels like an introduction to a character, one that could eventually grow into the adult Thor as we know him. It wouldn’t make Thor into my favorite character, but it would certainly help to see him going through noticeable development of the sort that is absent from his on-screen appearances.