Tag Archives: Hamlet

Thor: Marvel’s Shakespeare

10 May

How do you bring a Middle English talking Norse God of Thunder to the big screen without upsetting the fan boys, but still making enough money to show that you are a commercially viable company for the long run? You hire Kenneth “call me Hamlet bitch” Branagh.

Those are quotations and really more air-quotes than anything else. But even without the seemingly appropriate nickname Branagh brings a complete range of film making to the table. He’s a classically trained actor/director who not only brought some of Shakespeare’s most notable works to the big screen, but was also in Wild Wild West.

For the basement dwelling nerdfolk Branagh can bring a complex understanding of Thor as a Marvel character and the Norse mythology that inspired him. For everyone else, Branagh understands how to bridge the gap between nerdspeak and the big-guns, big-boobs, big-special effects world of studio made blockbusters.

What we are talking about is Thor, played with a steady confidence by little-known Australian actor Chris Hemsworth. At its core Thor is a story of sibling rivalry and self realization,but on the incredible stage of Asgard and the ethereal plane.

See I’ve already lost you with all rainbow bridge talk. But wait we’ve got Natalie Portman, come on back. That’s right you can still be entertained by the Norse God of Thunder and Mjolnir, his hammer.

I’m loosing you again, wait we’ve got Anthony Hopkins as Odin the King of Asgard. He may not look good with his shirt off, but this guy brings gravitas and credibility to the world Branagh is building.

To stir the plot we’ve got Tom Hiddleston brilliantly as Loki, the mischievous brother of Thor whose mysterious past provides the entirety of the story really. But we’re not going to get into that.

Still not buying it? Ok, we’ve also got plenty of action sequences, sexual tension and guys with their shirts off for the ladies. Not to mention good special effects and a decent amount of comedy.

But the real key to success for Thor is its ability to get you into the world.If you don’t buy the premise, you’ll never get into the characters and spend $11 to see the midnight show of the Avengers.

Sure you can just let it be, and just throw a wink to the camera and say, “buy into this, it’ll be fun.”  But the average person doesn’t like to be told to come along, they like to be led along. The nudge-nudge-wink-wink approach gets you mediocre box office numbers and a life-time of reruns on FX.

But that doesn’t mean you have to explain every last detail,  I call this the “Midi-Chlorian Conundrum” or the “Lucas’ Ruination Effect”.  This is the tendency on the part of filmmakers to make you believe completely, rather than just provide a degree of plausible deny-ability.

I don’t need to know every detail about how Thor’s Hammer is actually the iPad-T1000, just give me something to anchor my understanding. Branagh and the writers at Marvel bridged this gap with a brilliantly simple line of dialogue that has been in every trailer, including the one below.  But I won’t spoil it. Otherwise I’d have to put up stupid flashing lights to tell everyone I was ruining the movie.

It’s a classic Hollywood blockbuster that delivers all the right things. It’s a fun and funny popcorn flick. But to Marvel it is the cornerstone of their world. If you can enjoy this journey down the rabbit hole, then Marvel’s Nerd-A-Motive can steam into the future on the backs of this cash cow and so many others.

Now let me state at this point I’ve used the word “nerd”, and it’s many conjugations,  several times so I think I should say at this point that I ( and I know this is hard for many of my loyal readers to believe) am an Uber-Nerd. Minus the parents basement.

So I use the word not only out of love, but out of ownership…Nerd it’s the other N word.

I wanted to add something at the end there. Just like Marvel always does in their movies to tease you. HINT. HINT. COUGH. STAY AFTER THE CREDITS. COUGH.