Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Another Marvel Comics superhero gets his couple of hours on the screen this week in “Thor.” The title character is based on Norse mythology.
In Norse polytheism, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, destruction, fertility, healing, and the protection of mankind. And now blockbuster summer movies.
May is the official beginning of the summer movie season, always peppered with blockbusters based on comic books. This year is no different, other than the dominance of Marvel superheroes.
“Thor” leads the pack, soon to be followed by “Captain America” and “The Avengers.” The first two leading to the third. The Avenger’s is a superheroes gang in which Thor (Chris Helmsworth) and Cap (Chris Evans) are members. So are Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). Even the Hulk (this time around, Mark Ruffalo).
The new Thor is Chris Helmsworth, a 27-year-old Aussie who towers 6’ 3” in stocking feet. He is blonde and muscled and, well, god-like.
Chris studied American Dialect at Screenwise Film & TV School for Actors in Sydney Australia. This, so he could wind up playing a Norwegian God of Thunder.
You haven’t seen much of him on the silver screen, although he did play Capt. James Kirk’s dad in the “Star Trek” reboot. He’s mostly done TV, but that’s about to change.
The “Thor” movie recounts how the young god’s dad Odin (Anthony Hopkins) kicks him out of the house, uh, I mean out of Asgard. Exiled to Earth, with little more baggage than his mighty hammer Mjolnir, he is captured by a team of scientist led by Jane Foster (recent Oscar-winner Natalie Portman). When he tries to wield his hammer — the source of his power — he finds that he’s unworthy. But, yes, he proves himself by facing off with the Destroyer to save Jane.
When I was publisher of Marvel Comics back in the mid-90s, Thor’s hammer (okay, a movie prop) sat atop a bookcase in my Number 2’s office. Now the COO of Marvel, Jim “Ski” Sokolowski still has the hammer.
Being a lowly movie critic, I didn’t see an advance screening of “Thor” before it opened this week. So I asked Ski if he’d seen it yet. “I’m trying to remain in the dark,” he said. “But I can’t wait for ‘Thor’ and ‘Cap.’ As for ‘X-men: First Class,’ not so much…”
Marvel’s marketing director John Dokes told me the comic book staff hopes to get a private screening of “Thor” this week. Fanboys hate to pay for tickets. Movie critics, too.
Even so, Marvel is betting we’ll pay to see both “Thor” and the upcoming “Captain America,” just to be prepared for “The Avengers” (that upcoming summer 2012 Marvel Comics blockbuster where a gaggle of your favorite superheroes get together in one movie). And they’re right — I swear by Odin’s beard.
Shirrel Rhoades is a film writer for Cooke Communications.