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I was incredibly sceptical about this film when it was first announced. Having read the 'Thor' comics as a child, I loved the character, but following on from much more 'grounded' Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies 'Iron Man', 'Incredible Hulk', 'Iron Man 2', it felt like a bomb was about to drop. I was honestly worried that it would have influenced Marvel in a bad way: if Thor had bombed, would we have gotten the Avengers movie they'd been gearing up to in the preceding 3 movies? Would the MCU be in the incredible shape it is today?
'Thor' as a business decision made no sense to me at the time: other movies in the 'Phase 1' slate were all fairly recognisable, fairly 'realistic' characters. Thor, on the other hand, hails from Asgard, and is the 'God of Thunder' straight from Norse mythology. The film was directed by Kenneth Branagh, also known as Gilderoy Lockhart from the Harry Potter movies(!). The film starred a practical unknown in Chris Hemsworth and trailers suggested it was going to be pretty high fantasy - a genre that seldom works, and moreover a genre that seldom does big at the box office (with a few major exceptions).
But no. This film was a monster. It exceeded my expectations, and set the trend: Marvel would continue to exceed expectations beautifully for the next 4 years, right up to their latest film 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'. 'Thor' blended fantasy and 'real life' absolutely perfectly, with seamless special effects, a tightly plotted 'origin' story (of sorts - it is our introduction to Thor, and Thor to us) and - most essentially - an incredible cast. Natalie Portman shines as Jane, Thor's love interest, Stellan Skarsgard plays a superb Dr Selvig and, of course, Tom Hiddleston almost steals the show from Hemsworth as Thor's brother and the film's antagonist, Loki. Revealing too much about the film would be to spoil its charms - of that there are many.
This was the film that established Marvel's MCU for the most sceptical (like me), building on the foundation of 'grounded' movies like 'Iron Man'. This was a risky bet, and it paid off handsomely. Without it, we may have never gotten the excellent 'Avengers' in all its brave glory, and we definitely wouldn't have had the triumphant 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. Get it watched. An absolutely awesome fantasy action movie.