Fans of the Marvel comics are better suited than me to explain how a Norse god becomes an American superhero, but in Kenneth Branagh's Thor, the latest comic book to big screen adaptation, it all (kind of) makes perfect sense. And speaking of perfect, how about leading man Chris Hemsworth's bod?
Hemsworth as Thor certainly looks like a god. The one (all too brief) scene of him topless reveals a perfectly muscled upper body, undoubtedly achieved in real life by diet and weights and not, as in the film world of Asgard, by the mere wielding of a magic hammer. That shirtless scene comes after the arrogant Thor is banished to Earth – and separated from his hammer – for disobeying the wishes of his father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins).
After almost literally falling into the laps of Professor Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and her assistants (Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard), who are researching weather anomalies in New Mexico, Thor must retrieve his magic hammer if he is to survive, let alone ever return to Asgard where his younger brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), has seized the throne.
For me, the scenes on Earth played better than those in the CGI-rendered realm of Asgard. Despite the almost Shakespearean quality Branagh (a seemingly odd though ultimately appropriate choice to direct) attempts to bring to these scenes – with their royal intrigues and sibling rivalry – it is those in New Mexico which are for more effective and entertaining.
In terms of the Marvel/Avenger adaptations, I'd rank Thor above Ed Norton's The Incredible Hulk but only equal to Iron Man 2, the original of which remains the best of these films thus far. We'll see what Captain America has to offer in July.
And yes, there is the obligatory Avengers teaser following the end credits which, depending on your point of view, is revealing or reveals nothing at all (I say the latter). But definitely worth avoiding is seeing Thor in 3D. The film was converted post-production and gains nothing by its use. Save your bucks and see it in 2D. Besides, that body looks good in any dimension.