Thor is a 2011 film released in the Earth-11584 continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is the first film iteration of the Marvel Comics character, based on the Norse god of the same name. Starring Chris Hemsworth in the title role and directed by Kenneth Branagh, it is the 5th film in the Phase 1 Cycle of the MCU. The film was released on May 6, 2011 to largely critical acclaim, and made just under $450 million at the worldwide box office.
The idea for a Thor movie was a relatively recent one, despite the film rights to the character existing with 20th Century Fox in the early 1990s. Director Sam Raimi had originally pitched an idea for the character following the release of Darkman in 1990, but executives didn't care for it. The film languished with no movement until 2000, when Marvel (who had reacquired the rights) planned a television show on UPN. Paramount later purchased the rights for a film version in 2002, but no director could be found, and in 2006 the character returned to Marvel. Several different directors were approached, with Matthew Vaughn at one point attached. In 2009, though, Vaughn was replaced by noted actor and director Kenneth Branagh, who decided to make Thor and the Asgardians aliens as opposed to a human gaining special powers like many other origin stories. Unknown actor Chris Hemsworth was cast in the title role in early 2010, with Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston joining the cast in succession.
The decision to set the film on Earth as opposed to Asgard was done to help ground the film in the lore of the MCU, while still being fantastical enough to give the audience something different. Filming was done on location in New Mexico for many scenes set on Earth, while Asgard was largely constructed with CGI and green screen effects in studios in Atlanta Georgia. Filming began in August of 2010 and continued through October of that year, with reshoots taking place in February of 2011, just a few months before the film's release.
Ages ago, Odin, King of Asgard, united nine realms into a protectorate under Asgard's rule. This protection extended into something referred to as the Veil of the Nine Realms, which rendered them difficult (but not impossible) for any interstellar travellers to find. This included Earth, referred to by the Asgardians as Midgard. During a war with the Frost Giants over the fate of Earth, Odin managed a hard-fought victory, which forged a peace between Asgard and Jotunheim. Amidst the rubble, though, Odin found a small Frost Giant baby who had been left to die. He brings it with him to Asgard to raise as his own, alongside his own two sons, Thor and Balder.
In the present day, peace has reigned in the Nine Realms for many centuries, and Thor, eldest son of Odin and the God of Thunder, is set to take the throne. On the day of his coronation, flanked by his friends the Warriors Three, the Lady Sif, and his brothers Balder and Loki, he is about to be crowned king when a rogue group of Frost Giants attack Asgard unprovoked. Thor and his Warriors dispatch the would be interlopers, but the chaos causes Odin to postpone the coronation. Later, in council, Thor says that this is clearly a sign by the Frost Giants to try and undermine his pending kingship. Balder replies that it is unlikely the Frost Giants would jeopardize the peace so brazenly, when there has been little sign from them for so long. More troubling, Loki replies, is the fact they managed to sneak into Asgard undetected. Thor demands a counter-attack on Jotunheim, but Odin forbids it, saying that Thor is not king yet, and that until the crisis is abated, he will not be king. Odin says he will speak with Laufey soon on the matter.
Afterwards, Loki encourages Thor's anger, convincing him to defy his father and go after the Frost Giants himself, though after some cajoling, the Warriors Three, along with Sif, Loki and Balder, agree to accompany him, though Balder only agrees when Thor agrees to speak with Laufey first before fighting. They order Heimdall to access the Bifrost, which he allows as Odin had not expressly forbid it to Thor at the time. On Jotunheim, the "peace conference", as Fandral refers to it, goes poorly, and the Frost Giant army suddenly attacks Thor and company. They hold their own in defense, but are clearly outnumbered. During the course of the fight, Loki notices he is seemingly unaffected by Frost Giant magic. In a one-on-one battle between Thor and Laufey, the Frost Giant seems to get the upper hand, but Odin intercedes and retrieves the wayward Asgardians.
With the Warriors Three sent away for healing along with Balder, Loki, Thor and Odin have an argument in the Bifrost Bridge. Thor says Odin has gone soft, making speeches and resting on laurels while the rest of the Nine Realms laugh at them. He says he needs to be respected as a king. Odin replies that such vanity and arrogance is not becoming of a king. Thor calls Odin a fool. Odin's reply is that he was a fool for thinking Thor ready for such a burden...ever. For his transgression, Thor is stripped of his armament and godly powers, as well as his weapon, the hammer Mjolnir, and banished to Midgard. Mjolnir is sent after him, with the phrasing of someone having to prove their worth to wield the power of Thor.
On Earth, in the town of Tucumcari, New Mexico, a young astrophysicist named Jane Foster, along with her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig and an intern named Darcy Lewis are out investigating strange auroras and magnetic fluctuations in the area. Amidst a sudden wind storm, they accidentally hit a man stumbling through the desert, which turns out to be the banished Thor. After taking him to the hospital, they give him the alias of Donald Blake while he recuperates.
Back on Asgard, Odin confronts Loki in the Asgardian vault, while Loki is examining an artifact known as the Siege Engine, which could lay waste to an entire world. Loki asks about where he came from, and Odin explains about the truth of his heritage, confessing that Loki was in fact a Frost Giant by birth, but he had been raised on Asgard. An argument ensues, but the expenditure of force against Laufey as well as the weariness of banishing his son sends Odin prematurely into the Odinsleep, during which time Asgard is vulnerable. At council, Loki gives misinformation to his mother Frigga, saying that Odin had been heartbroken not by Thor's banishment but by Balder's apparent betrayal, accusing him of letting the Frost Giants into Asgard. Balder denies it, but Loki insists that Balder did it to prevent Thor from becoming king. Frigga says she cannot solve the matter, but until Odin awakes, Balder cannot be trusted to rule. She passes the kingship to Loki, while confining Balder to the palace.
Thor awakens in the hospital and quickly breaks out. En route to visit him, Jane accidentally nearly runs over Thor again, but instead takes him to the house they are renting on the outskirts of town. Thor tries to explain who he is, but no one seems to believe him, Dr. Selvig especially. After some breakfast, they turn on the television, which reveals the local media circus that has arisen around Thor's hammer forming a crater nearby, with SHIELD taking up residence to study the object. Jane agrees to drive Thor to the site of his hammer, dropping him off nearby. Thor breaks into the SHIELD compound and tries to lift his hammer, but fails, and is captured.
Agent Phil Coulson of SHIELD, meanwhile, leads a team into the home of Jane Foster and Erik Selvig, and confiscates all their data and equipment for the time being. When he returns to Thor and finds him unwilling to answer questions, he prepares to send Thor to another location for enhanced interrogation. While waiting for transfer, Loki visits Thor in exile via astral projection, telling him Odin has passed and of Balder's "betrayal." Thor can't believe that Balder would betray him, and Loki says that, for the time being, he has to follow Odin's rule and keep Thor's banishment intact. Loki attempts to lift Mjolnir, but fails.
On Asgard, Loki approaches Heimdall and orders him not to speak of this visit to anyone, before traveling to Jotunheim. There he reveals that he was the one who let the Frost Giants into Asgard, first as a way of disrupting Thor's coronation, but now as a path to the throne himself. He reveals himself as Laufey's son and says he embraces his true parentage, saying that when the time is right he will allow Laufey into Asgard to kill Odin and then take the rightful place as the true ruler of Asgard.
On Earth, Thor's transfer is averted when Dr. Selvig claims that Thor is just a misguided friend of his. Coulson doesn't buy the alibi, but doesn't consider Thor a threat either. Surreptitiously, Thor manages to steal a single notebook from the materials taken from Jane Foster. Later that night, after drinking with Selvig, Thor brings the drunken man home to Jane and presents the notebook. The two share some time together, as Thor explains the means of Yggdrasil and the Nine Realms. In the morning, Thor has apparently disappeared, but instead has cooked breakfast for the three of them.
The Warriors Three and Lady Sif, suspecting that Loki is up to something, manage to convince Heimdall to let them go to Earth to speak with Thor. As Heimdall was not expressly forbidden from doing so, he allows it. Shortly thereafter, Loki relieves Heimdall of his duties. Heimdall, no longer loyal to Loki, strikes at him, but Loki uses Frost Giant magic to freeze him in place, before sending the Destroyer Armor to Earth after the wayward Asgardians and to kill his brother.
Back in New Mexico, the friends meet up with Thor and inform him of their suspicions of Loki. Thor immediately guesses it must have been Loki who set the Frost Giants loose on Asgard, but says that he cannot defy his father's wishes and return to Asgard. He says that when Odin awakens, then the time might be right. However, the Destroyer comes through the Bifrost, beating back SHIELD agents easily as it does so, and goes after Thor in the Town Square. After a brief fight with the Warriors Three and Sif, Thor appeals to Loki to call off the attack, since it was him he came to kill. Loki agrees, and kills Thor with one hit from the Destroyer. This triggers the enchantment on Mjolnir, which flies to Thor's hand and restores his powers. After a brief fight with the Destroyer, defeating it, Thor sets off for Asgard with his friends, vowing to return to Jane, with whom he shares a tender embrace.
Back on Asgard, Loki has allowed Laufey and two of his lieutenants into Odin's sleep chamber. Just as Laufey is about to kill Odin, though, Loki attacks and kills the two lieutenants, before killing Laufey in front of his mother's eyes, which he does to try and lay further claim to the throne of Asgard. He takes the Siege Engine from the vault and opens the Bifrost, trying to use it to destroy Jotunheim. He is confronted by Thor, who fails to stop the Siege Engine from beginning its destruction through the Bifrost, threatening to spread to the other eight realms as well and triggering Ragnarok. After a fight between Thor and Loki, Thor sacrifices the Bifrost to save the other realms, sealing the Earth off from Asgard seemingly forever. In the explosion, Thor and Loki each hang off the Bifrost by a thread. Thor is helped to his feet by a returning Balder. Odin tries to save Loki with Thor's help, but Loki refuses to be captured and disappears into the void.
With the Bifrost destroyed, Thor admits he has much to learn yet to be king. Odin agrees, but says while he may not yet be king, he is more than worthy to be considered a Prince of Asgard once more. Thor asks Heimdall about Jane, and Heimdall reveals that she is trying to look for Asgard from Earth. We cut to Earth with Jane smiling at her watch to view a new astral phenomenon, with her equipment returned to her, and the hope of making contact with Asgard once more.
[We cut in on a solid black screen, only the barest of lights shining from distant stars around. Slowly a nearby star rises above the horizon, shining off the armor and head of a disoriented Loki, as he stand alone on an asteroid with an artificial atmosphere. He glances around the area, not seeing anyone.]
Loki: Hello? Who goes there? Show yourselves!
[Several creatures dressed in armor slowly emerge from the shadows, each one looking at Loki with blank expressions on their faces.]
Loki: You are not creatures of the Nine Realms.
[A singular figure, similar to the others but dressed more resplendently, emerges to speak with Loki.]
The Other: We are not of the Nine Realms. We serve a higher purpose than just the Nine Realms. We owe an allegiance to a being far greater than the Allfather. One must wonder, Asgardian, are you ready to serve that higher purpose as well?
Loki: Firstly, I'm not an Asgardian per se. Secondly, I suppose I am willing to serve a master greater than Odin....but it will require a hefty price.
The Other: No price is too great for Him to pay.
[Loki glances up to the back of a large throne in the distance, smiling as he does so.]
Loki: In that case...my price is Earth.
[The Other and Loki smile at each other before we cut to black.]
/ = / = / = /
[We fade in on a large cavernous room, like a massive aircraft hanger, where we see Dr. Erik Selvig wander in. He stares at the large scale of it all, SHIELD agents moving boxes around behind him as they set up lab equipment. A voice calls out to him.]
Fury: Dr. Erik Selvig.
[Selvig turns and sees Nick Fury approaching him with a briefcase in hand, setting it down on a nearby pedastal.]
Selvig: So you're the man behind the green curtain? The man I have to thank for all my newfound research grant money.
Fury: You have yourself and Dr. Foster to thank for that. I just go where I'm needed. You're work has impressed a lot of people who are a heck of a lot smarter than I am. So much so, that they want you to take a crack at something else we've been working on.
Selvig: Well, I suppose I can take a look. What do you have?
[Fury opens the box and reveals a simple looking blue cube which glows with intense power.]
Selvig: What is that?
Fury: That's the Tesseract, Dr. Selvig. A conundrum that confused even the great Howard Stark since the late 40s. Our best minds have studied it for sixty years and we've barely made heads or tails of it.
Selvig: What makes you think I can do anything about it? And if you don't know what it is, than what do you hope to accomplish with it.
Fury: We're just hoping you can understand it Doctor. As to the possibilities, well the possibilities are truly Infinite.
[We get a long look at the cube and Fury's smiling face as we cut to black.]
Summary of Changes
- The Frost Giants who sneak into Asgard are there mainly to cause havoc, rather than steal an Ancient Artifiact like the Casket of Ancient Winters, which never appears in this film.
- There is a council of war scene involving Loki, Odin, Thor and Balder that is expanded from the scene where Odin forbids Thor to go to Jotunheim. Balder, younger brother of Thor, is also a new character in this film.
- The town in New Mexico where the bulk of action on Earth takes place is named as Tucumcari, which is depicted as being larger than the small town in the original film. Jane and company also live in a house outside of town, as opposed to renting a trailer and working out of an abandoned restaraunt.
- Jane and company give Thor the alias Donald Blake when they take him to the hospital the first time, a nod to his civilian identity in the comic books.
- There is a subplot involving Balder being framed by Loki for conspiring with the Frost Giants which is new here. The Siege Engine is also a new weapon created for this film, though it's effect is similar to the Casket of Ancient Winters.
- Frigga has a bigger role, being the one who passes judgment on Balder in lieu of her husband and grants Loki the right to rule.
- Loki using Frost Giant magic to freeze Heimdall in place is the first and only time he uses his native powers of his birth in this film, rather than using the afore mentioned Casket. Heimdall's escape is just as easy from this imprisonment, however.
- There is a second added post-credits scene, in which we first see the Chitauri and meet The Other as an avatar for Thanos, and get their bargain with Loki.
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor- The son of Odin and Prince of Asgard who, with his hammer Mjolnir, can summon lightning, heavy winds, and fly. He is banished to Earth for his arrogance in the course of the film, and must learn humility to prove himself worthy of his powers.
- Tom Hiddleston as Loki- The adopted son of Odin and brother of Thor, who manipulates circumstances to get Odin to banish Thor and to have his brother Balder framed and out of the picture in order to take the throne of Asgard for himself.
- Natalie Portman as Jane Foster- An astrophysicist who Thor befriends and has romantic feelings towards during his banishment to Earth.
- Stellan Skarsgaard as Dr. Erik Selvig- One of Jane Foster's scientific team members, who acts like a father to Jane.
- Anthony Hopkins as Odin- The King of Asgard and Father to Thor and Balder, and adopted Father of Loki. He banishes Thor to Earth and places an enchantment on Mjolnir to keep it out of Thor's hands until he proves himself worthy.
- Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis- An intern/assistant to Jane Foster and Dr. Selvig
- Colm Feore as Laufey of Jotunheim- King of the Frost Giants and Ancient enemy of Asgard.
- Idris Elba as Heimdall- The keeper of the Bifrost Bridge, who unquestionably serves the crown until Loki betrays his trust.
- Kit Harrington as Balder the Brave- The younger brother of Thor, who is framed for allowing Frost Giants into Asgard to disrupt Thor's coronation.
- Jamie Alexander as Lady Sif- An Asgardian warrior and friend to Thor and Balder. She later travels to Midgard to aid Thor against the Destroyer.
- Tadanobu Asano, Zachary Levi and Ray Stevenson as Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg respectively- The Warriors Three, a group of friends and warriors of Thor who aid him in his exile.
- Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson- A SHIELD special agent who temporarily seizes Jane Foster's scientific research and sets up a perimeter around Thor's Hammer Mjolnir.
In addition, Rene Russo plays Thor's mother and Odin's wife Frigga. WWE superstar Randy Orton has a cameo as the leader of the Frost Giants who attack Asgard at the start of the film. Samuel L. Jackson also reprises his role as Nick Fury in a Post Credits Scene, with Alexis Denisof credited only as "The Other" in the other Post Credits Scene. Jeremy Renner briefly cameos as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, while Stan Lee has a cameo as one of the many local residents who try and pick up Thor's hammer, tearing the back off his pickup truck in the process.
Thor received generally favorable reviews upon it's release. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes scored the film 77% with an average rating of 6.7 out of 10 from 271 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads "A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment." Critics were quick to praise the film's large scope and decent cast, in particular the work of Hiddleston as the villainous Loki, but criticized the "fish out of water" aspect of the story and the shoehorned nature of Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis.
The film opened at #1 on its first weekend in the United States and Canada, earning $65.7 million dollars in the process. It would go on to be the 10th highest grossing film of 2011, with a total US gross of $181 million overall. The film also managed a worldwide gross of $449.3 million.