I’ve been reading old Marvel comics for, well, a few years now. And also the Marvel Ultimate reboot series, for about the same number of years. In that time, I’ve gotten through 10 or so years of the newer version and 13 years now of the older version. Over those “years”, I’ve had characters I’ve liked and characters I’ve disliked, as you do. For instance, I will read as little about the Submariner as humanly possible, and I’ll be glad of it. Anyway, my point is this: I’ve seen a great deal about Thor as an ensemble character, and only a very little of him as a main character in his own stories. Everything I’ve seen of the latter (except for a few Loki-centric stories in the Ultimate version) has led me to be bored at the idea of picking them up, even when virtually every other major Marvel character has eventually won me over.
All of this to explain that I had pretty low expectations when I heard that they had a Thor movie in the works as part of the build-up to the Avengers franchise. Often, of course, correctly lowered expectations are the key to enjoying something that you otherwise might have rolled your eyes at or even actively hated. But the thing is, I don’t think that’s the deal here. The opening narration doesn’t give the slightest amount of delay in explaining that these aren’t really Norse gods, they’re just really advanced aliens who happened to choose Earth as a battleground, naturally confusing the natives. (Arthur C. Clarke is referenced so many times you’d think he got royalties.) And once that’s out of the way and we’re caught up to modern times, the story they’re telling is pretty much exactly the story I wanted to hear, without any of Thor’s old-school enemies who bore me so, without more than a smattering of his over the top formality that bores me even more; instead, it’s a sibling squabble between Thor and Loki, of exactly the type that has so enthralled me in all the new Ultimate stories. Except, you know, with cosmic implications and a few interesting earth people involved.
But other than the Loki thing, and I have decided over the past couple of years that in the hands of a capable writer, I could happily read or watch him doing just about anything, the main draw versus the comics that I was so leery of is that they took an overly formal prig with a stick wedged so solidly up his ass that it made Mjollnir look about as unmovable as an empty plastic bag in an independent film about existentialism and turned him into a jovial, likable, and best of all, overly rash hero among men. If someone tries to convince me that the Thor in the (non-Ultimate) comics eventually turns into that guy, I’d probably be willing to pick up his stories. Not until then, mind you, because I just don’t care enough about the backstory. Not this time.