Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Recap: "Thor" Part 2: Cold Comfort

When we last left our hero, his dad had just kicked him out of the house for being an angry little punk in the hopes that he’ll learn some manners in the real world. Only with Gods. Which makes it awesome.

Does this make Mjolnir... a ban hammer?
The next morning, back in the desert of New Mexico, a local redneck (played by comic writer J. Michael Straczynski) finds out that a large crater has appeared overnight. In the middle, Mjolnir sits, unmoving. He tries to take it with him, but it won’t budge.

Back with…. You know, the action in this movie takes place on two fronts with different sets of heroes. To make things easier for me, Jane, Erik, and Darcy are now Team Science, and Sif and the Warriors Three are now Team Magic. Just so I don’t have to say “Sif and the Warriors Three” or “Darcy, Jane, and Erik” over and over.

Anyway, over with Team Science, they’re going over their data of the weather disturbance. And amazingly, Jane discovers that the data seems to be indicating that the disturbance was an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.

Darcy: “A what?"
Dr. Selving: “I thought you were a science major?”
Darcy: “Political science.”
Jane: “She was the only applicant.”

You’re telling me that there wasn’t a single other person who was willing to bum around a couple crackpot scientists to get six college credits? Pff. I’d have done it for two.

As Jane explains, an “Einstein-Rosen Bridge” is a wormhole, in layman’s terms. And this is backed up by the constellations. The stars that their instruments picked up were the wrong stars. As they begin to consider the implications of this, Darcy notices something about one of their readings. He may not be David Bowie, but a thermal image of the vortex clearly shows that this man fell to Earth.

Jane and the others head to the hospital, where the now-restrained Thor struggles in vain to escape. That is, until he worms his way out of his bonds. Jane and the others find only an empty room, and end up sulking in the van. Jane vows to track the strange man down wherever he might be, but conveniently bumps into him.

And also literally bumps into him.
Jane: “I swear I’m not doing this on purpose!”

Over with Mjolnir, history seems to be repeating itself. As will be revealed in the next film, Captain America: The First Avenger, when Odin visited Earth, he left behind an artifact that helped add fuel to the fire of the Norse religion. Basically, humans started up a cargo cult based on a trinket from aliens from another world. The Vikings would test their strength, drink beer, and roast meat all in the glory of their newfound “Gods.” And it looks like the meat, beer, and tests of strength have been passed on to the new Vikings by way of Thor’s hammer. That’s right. Rednecks are having themselves a hoot and a half trying to remove the hammer from the ground. They’re barbecuing, drinking, smoking, and trying to test their manliness by going all Arthurian and lifting the hammer.

Finally, they hook up a truck to the darn thing and get to pulling. But all they manage to remove is the back end of the truck from the rest of the truck. Luckily, the driver isn’t too dismayed.

"The maker of this world shall possess the immortal's weapon one way or the other, True Believers!"
But the time for merriment is over as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s very own Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) arrives on the scene, calling Nick Fury and telling him that they’ve found “it.”

Over with Thor, he’s at Jane’s place, having a shirtless scene as he changes into some new clothes. I’m fairly confident that I don’t need to add a picture here. Anyone with any inclination to see Chris Hemsworth’s abs has probably done so already. Even if you had no idea who Chris Hemsworth was before you started reading my Thor Recaps, you’ve probably Googled those abs already.


Fine, I'll include a picture of Chris Hemsworth shirtless.

There you go; the chest that Kenneth Branagh calls "awe-inspiring."
Darcy: “You know, for a crazy homeless person, he’s pretty cut. Hey, sorry I tazed you.”

Jane walks over and rips the name tag that says “Donald Blake, M.D.” off the shirt she gave him. Apparently, she used to have a boyfriend by that name, which is news to me, because I didn't know Anakin Skywalker ever used an alias besides "Darth Vader."

Jane: “Good with patients and bad with relationships.”

Also bad at not killing younglings. What, don’t believe me? If you rearrange the letters of “Physician Donald Blake,” you get “Boy, is he Anakin! Doll cap.” So what if there were some letters left over? They can’t all be as simple and clean as “I am Lord Voldemort.”

Actually, as I said in the Intro, Donald Blake was Thor’s human alter-ego, created by Odin to teach Thor humility by making him dependent on a cane that would become Thor’s hammer when he switched forms back and forth. All things considered, it’s not only a nice little Easter Egg, but a nod to the Ultimate Marvel comics, where Thor didn’t have a secret identity, either. And you know what else was drawn from the Ultimate comics? People thought Thor was a crazy hobo in that continuity, too.

Anyway, Thor’s hungry, so they take him to the local diner. Back in Asgard, Team Magic worries about the big oaf as they regret not stopping him when they had the chance. All but Loki. All he can think about was how his hand turned blue when that Frost Giant touched him. That is, until he admits to his friends that Loki was the one who let it slip to Odin what was going on with Thor. They beg Loki to try and convince Odin to unbanish Thor, but he refuses, because Thor was an arrogant fool, like Odin said.

Loki: “Is that what Asgard needs from its king?”

After Loki leaves, Sif badmouths him. After all, the emo git had always been jealous of Thor. Hogun remembers that Laufey spoke of traitors in Asgard. Loki could easily have let the Frost Giants in with his illusions. Things are adding up, and the signs aren’t good.

Fandral: “Loki’s always been one for mischief, but you’re talking about something else entirely.”

Why, he's talking about ... chicanery!

Loki soon finds himself in Odin’s vault with the Casket of Ancient Winters. Odin enters and tells Loki to stop, but it’s too late. Loki has discovered the truth that he had suspected since Jötunheim.

Loki: “Am I cursed?”

This is an important question. If Loki is cursed, that means that whatever’s wrong with him is unnatural. It’s not his own fault, but the fault of an outside force. And that’s what he’s hoping for. But the answer is no. Loki isn’t cursed.

Loki: “What am I?”
Odin: “You’re my son.”

Adopted, but still.
Odin spills the beans on the whole deal. After he had defeated Laufey on his home turf, he ended up finding an abandoned runt of a Frost Giant. With no one around to claim the abandoned kid as their own, and under the Decree of Finders Keepers, he decided to raise the infant, Loki, son of the king of the Frost Giants, as his own son. What with that whole blood feud against Jötunheim, Loki suspects that Odin took him for a reason and not on a whim. And there was a plan. Odin wanted to raise Loki as his own so that he might one day ascend to the throne. Not the throne of Asgard, but the throne of Jötunheim. With Odin’s sons on each throne, the kingdoms could be united and they could have real peace, not just, if you'll pardon the pun, a Cold War.
"For better or worse" indeed.
Loki, angry and raging against the All-Father, claims that he's just another stolen relic, taken because he might be useful someday.

Odin: "Why do you twist my words?"

Because even "Gods" have attitude problems.

"Whatever, man. You're not my real dad."
Loki: "You could've told me what I was from the beginning. Why didn't you!?"
"You're my son. I wanted only to protect you from the truth."
Loki: "What, 'cause I-I-I'm the monster who parents tell their children about at night?"

In the ultimate irony, Loki, the God of Lies, was lied to his entire life. And there's a lot of foreshadowing for that. Loki is the only Asgardian without a beard (Hogun doesn't count; he's from Vanaheim), and he's the only skinny Asgardian, too. Even Lady Sif has more muscles than he does. And while the other Asgardians are warriors and fighters, Loki prefers to stay back and use manipulation and illusions. Loki is absolutely nothing like the other Asgardians, even though his skin might not be blue. Despite Odin's wishes, Loki still grew up as an outcast.

Unfortunately, the conversation has been taking its toll on Odin. A lot of people criticized Anthony Hopkins in this, calling him flat, especially in this scene. But it makes sense. See, every once in a while, Odin needs to recharge his godly powers in the "Odinsleep." Over the course of the film, Odin has been nearing Odinsleep, noticeably getting progressively weaker and weaker, with even Laufey commenting on how weary Odin looked. And that finally takes its toll at the worst time.

Loki fills his words with hate and bile for his father who simply wants him to understand. Even as Odin reaches out to his son, falling to the ground, the words won't come as he drifts off to sleep. Loki calls for the guards, and they rush to the aid of their king.

Back on Earth, Team Science and Thor are eating in a diner.

Jane: "How'd you get inside that cloud?"
Darcy: "Also, how could you eat an entire box of Pop Tarts and still be this hungry?"

And hungry he certainly is. I have to applaud the editing here. Literally every time the camera cuts to him as he's eating, he's putting another giant piece of food in his mouth. The man can eat. Even the characters are amazed by his appetite, as he pauses only to drink from his mug.

Thor: "This drink, I like it."
Darcy: "I know, it's great, right?"
Thor: "Another!"

This entire movie was made for animated gifs.
Thor seems to still be having a couple problems with Earth culture, but at least he's not trying to attack windmills, or something.

Jane: "No more smashing. Deal?"

Good luck making that deal with the Hulk.

Two rednecks from the hammer party stop by and brag about all the fun they has trying to remove a "satellite" from the ground until the feds came along. Jane gets in on the conversation as Darcy takes a picture of Thor to put on Facebook.

Will Facebook actually let you tag him as "Thor"?
Thor notices that their descriptions of the "satellite" seem to fit his hammer, so after getting directions, he walks out of the diner to start his journey, disregarding basic traffic safety as he walks down the road. After Jane runs up to ask him what the heck he thinks he's doing, he offers her all the information she wants about him and how he got here. But only if he gets a ride to the crater.

Thor: "All the answers you seek will be yours once I reclaim Mjolnir."
Darcy: "Mew-mew? What's mew-mew?"

Erik talks with Jane in private for a second, wisely pointing out that for all intents and purposes, Thor is probably crazy. And most likely dangerous. Erik, being from Scandinavia originally, recognizes Thor's ramblings as Norse mythology. Confronted with common sense, Jane declines to drive Thor to the crater. He parts amicably, and the team heads back to base to work on real science. This is made considerably harder when they actually get back to base, discovering that the government is taking their science gear.

You might say this is illegal, but it's technically not. This falls under the Fifth Amendment, which states that the government is allowed to seize private property for their own use under eminent domain. But only as long as they pay the proper amount for it. And Coulson actually does hand her a check.

Jane delivers a passionate speech to Agent Coulson, about her life's work and science and stuff. She talks about breakthroughs, and the key to knowledge, and how her entire life's work is stored either in the equipment they're taking or the notebook she's holding. So they take her notebook. I'd say the speech may have backfired.

Team Science is left to sulk on the roof of their building as the gravest injustice of all is brought to light.

Darcy: "They even took my iPod."

No backups were spared, no notes left behind, and Darcy just downloaded, like, thirty songs. Erik notes that he's familiar with S.H.I.E.L.D. He knew this guy once. Radiation scientist. Never seen again after he started working for them.

Originally, this was a reference to Dr. Hank Pym, also known as... aw, crap.

"That's right. Once again, Ant-Man is left out of a movie."
Get out of here, you little runt. You're not even the Ant-Man I'm talking about.

Back in Asgard, Team Magic rushes to Odin's throne to talk to him, only to find Loki sitting on it. Odin is in his worst Odinsleep yet, it seems. In fact, Frigga thinks he might never wake up and refuses to leave his side, leaving the throne of Asgard to Loki. Norse mythology buffs are probably asking why the throne didn't fall to Vili and Ve, Odin's brothers, to which I reply, "Blame Snorri Sturluson for being a hack."

The Warriors ask Loki to lift Thor's banishment, but he refuses. Obviously, this is because once Thor comes back, Loki would probably lose the throne. But he tells them that he can't go against the wishes of the previous king, as that would send a bad message to the people of Asgard.

Loki: "Our people need a sense of continuity in order to feel safe in these difficult times."

You got that right. If only Marvel and DC would realize the problems with constant reboots….

You know, it's not often that a demigod is also a demagogue.
Back on Earth, Team Science is at the library, where Erik emails a colleague for help before flipping through a book on Norse mythology. Meanwhile, Jane watches Thor enter a pet store to see a man about a horse.

Man: "We don't have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds."
Thor: "Then give me one of those large enough to ride."

Thor is completely serious as he says this. Asgard has some pretty amazing wildlife. Majestic horses, bilgesnipe, and that giant cat that turned out to be the Midgard Serpent in disguise.

Jane beep the horn outside and offers him a lift, which he accepts. As they drive to the crater, they have a moment where they just talk. You know, chit chat. James nervous because she's never done anything like this before, Thor keeps using words like "realm," and Jane still doesn't know is Thor's charming or alarming.

Jane: "But who are you? Really?"

"Really? I'm just a figment of your imagination."
Thor: "You'll see soon enough."

Back in Asgard, Odin sleeps in his wicked awesome bed, surrounded by a glowy energy field as Loki visits him and Frigga. She's still quite worried. Apparently, it wasn't a good idea for Odin to put off sleeping for so long. Loki asks her about why they lied to him all these years, and she reiterates What Odin said about not wanting him to feel like an outcast. He takes it much better this time, but probably because Loki's a mama's boy.

This is jumping a head a bit, but in the next Thor film, Frigga will use a few illusions. Hmm, I wonder where Loki learned magic from. But as I said earlier, Loki has felt like an outcast his whole life. I mean, Odin had been prepping Thor for the throne since childhood. Loki must have noticed that. And with his father apparently playing favorites, he turned to his mother. Even now, Loki doesn't treat her like he was treating Odin. He treats her like, well, his mother.

Frigga asks Loki to hope for Odin's return as well as Thor's, which surprises Loki a bit. After all, he was banished, right? But Frigga hints that there was more than simple exile at play. Over with Thor, he and Jane arrive at the newly-built S.H.I.E.L.D. installation under cover of darkness.

Looks more like something you'd put Zhu-Zhu Pets in, to me.
Jane points out that if this had been a satellite crash, they would have taken the wreckage away. Like Roswell. Clearly, something's up. Thor shows off real quick by giving Jane her coat before he heads off to infiltrate the base and get their stuff back. As a freak storm begins to mess with the devices S.H.I.E.L.D. took from Team Science as well as the phone of Agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernadez), Thor breaks in and starts busting some heads, sending the agents to their battle stations, including one Agent Barton played by Jeremy Renner.

Agent Barton: "You better call it, Coulson. 'Cause I'm starting to root for this guy."

Thor beats up the final guy and heads to his hammer. He grips it with both hands... and can't pull it free.

"Stupid hands!"
Coulson has his men move in to finally take the big lug into custody, as Heimdall watches from his observatory in Asgard.

I know it's just a reflection of the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, but the man's eye's have targeting reticles.
Back in New Mexico, Jane is back with the others, telling them about what she saw as Darcy finds out what "mew-mew" is in a book Erik brought to show that Thor, and possibly Jane, is crazy.

Jane: "Well, magic's just science that we don't understand yet! Arthur C. Clarke."
Erik: "Who wrote science fiction!"

Yeah! You live in a world with real science, like super soldiers, Gamma-irradiated monsters, powered armors, and handheld reactors that break the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Jane starts putting together that there's an advanced civilization out there with the power to create wormholes. And Darcy pipes in with that political science experience to note that the primitive Vikings could have easily ended up worshiping such a race of beings. Over with the alien being stuck on Earth, he's being interrogated by Agent Coulson. Coulson is dead serious as he tries to get into Thor's head and find out exactly where he received the military training to take out all those agents, including rattling off a few places like South Africa and Afghanistan, which Thor has never even heard of.

Agent Coulson: "It's not easy to do what you did. You made my men- some of the most highly trained professionals in the world- look like a bunch of minimum-wage mall cops. That's hurtful. In my experience, it takes someone who's received similar training to do what you did to them."

"Yeah. If only Coulson had a guy with an arrow aimed at the guy the whole time. Oh wait."
Actually, under the standard policies of the U.S. military, the situation had not yet escalated to the point where lethal force would be authorized.

"So not only was I a pointless cameo, there was no way Coulson would give the order to have me do anything?"
I'm afraid so.

"This is marginally worse than my treatment in The Avengers."
After Coulson leaves, Thor is greeted by his brother, invisible to all but him.

Loki: "Father is dead."

He tells Thor that "unfortunately," Loki must rule in Odin's stead and that the truce they just made with the Frost Giants includes a "Thor must stay on Earth" clause.

Loki: "I'm sorry."
Thor: "No. I am sorry."

Could this be... character development for the angry oaf?

Loki leaves as Coulson returns, pausing only to sneak over to Mjolnir and fail to take it for himself.

Coming up in Part 3! Do you want to kill a snowman?

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