What looks like a god, acts like a god and talks like a god, but’s not a god? Apparently it’s a man says the comic book hero at the centre of Thor: The Dark World.
For those of you who haven’t been following the Marvel franchise closely – and let’s face it, there are so many storylines now they require their own shelf at the DVD store – Disney has finally released the second film devoted to the adventures of Thor, the god of thunder. And I’m wondering whether a whiteboard would be more useful in trying to describe how the story is playing out…
In the first installment Chris Hemsworth entered as the hammer-wielding hero, banished to earth due to the machinations of his evil stepbrother Loki. Thor hails from Asgard, one of the nine realms that make up the mulitverse. Earth is something of a backwater but during his sojourn tbere he meets his human love interest Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Thor: The Dark World takes place two years later and follows directly on from 2012’s The Avengers. After helping to save earth from an alien invasion brought on by his brother, Thor has spent his time restoring peace across the dimensions while Loki has rotted in prison. Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the ruler of Asgard (no, there’s no shortage of big names!), lets us in on his son’s destiny and the focus of the film:
“When Thor has guaranteed peace across the nine realms, then he will be king.”
– and as a Christian, you might be tempted to jump to an obvious, real-life parallel for the comic book hero, but hold that thought. Thor and the Asgardians are suddenly confronted with the return of the Dark Elves who wish to destroy the universe – because that’s what bad guys do. Thor’s scientist girlfriend has accidentally stumbled on their ancient weapon, an ultimate evil called the Aether. If they can take it from her then all nine realms will be plunged into a darkness they haven’t seen since before the beginning of time.
Thor: The Dark World is big, bold and full of comic-book ‘BAM!’ The storyline moves fast enough to skip over the numerous plot pitfalls that fans will note and there’s also a fair degree of comedy to cut down the cheese. So, just bubblegum for the mind? Not exactly. The Asgardians have two observations to make about our multiverse before the final hammer falls.
Firstly, let’s clear up all those unfortunate god references. Odin goes to some pains to make it clear to his wayward son Loki and the audience that they are not divine. Oh, they might have played at being deities in the past – Odin admits he did it himself! – but in the end they’re just normal 5,000 year old beings who are born and die. Jane Foster discovers on a trip to meet her future in-laws that even their mystical powers are just alien expressions of the same science she’s been studying all along. No supreme beings here, thank you!
Secondly, let’s make sure we understand who should really be in control. The tension in Thor: The Dark World revolves around the titanic struggle between immense forces to define the direction of our little lives – none of which seem to care if we live or die. Neither Odin nor the Dark Elf leader Malekith put much value on human life. But when Thor is finally offered Asgard’s crown (I’d say ‘Spoiler!’ but c’mon, you knew that was coming), he turns it down because he doesn’t believe he could exercise the necessary brutality to take control of other peoples’ lives:
“I’d rather be a good man than a great king.”
Thor: The Dark World concludes with the suggestion that there is something dirty about kingship that clean people will avoid. Serving is OK, even exemplary, but not telling other people what to do. It’s not a huge philosophical assault but it does amount to another rejection should the real king of the universe turn up. But then would Jesus really be surprised to discover that our hearts wanted to rule themselves?
So, in summary, Thor might be great entertainment but he’s definitely no god. Neither is anyone else, for that matter. That position he leaves free for us.
Release Date: October 31