Friday, May 4, 2012

“You put your mythology in my pop-culture!”

Thor has always been a strange comic book hero. Then again, the American genre of superhero comic books has always been a bit of a modern day mythology. At first, combining superheroes with pagan Norse gods seems incongruous, but they are not all that different. And the way the idea of trans-dimensional aliens has grown in popular thinking, and the fact that they may have influenced human history, religion and culture… it is almost a natural fit. (Tweak that worldview just a little bit and you have a good representation of the Biblical understanding of the world.)

Still, this world and this story are the hardest part of “The Avengers” mixture to accept. The other three ingredients are: a man enhanced by technology and two men enhanced by scientific experimentation, all three ostensibly for military purposes. Add Thor into the mix and it is like playing that old game: (Sing along!) “Three of these things belong together.”

Take the Thor movie all by itself and you have to wonder why there is any connection to Earth and humanity at all. It could have best played out as a Norse myth completely in the world of Asgard. As for the themes, they are quite similar to Marvel’s biggest hit: “Iron Man.” A cocky, self assured alpha male has to learn his limits and the fact that he has a responsibility to others. It is not a bad story, but it is a retread. And it colors completely within the lines and by the numbers.

Spoilers for “The Avengers” after the pic: 

The fact that Loki instigates the events that lead up to the need for a team like the Avengers, and that Thor is a part of that team, are completely in keeping with the source material for this story. However, when Thor shows up, it is a huge shift in the tone of the film. How does he get back to earth? How does his power work? We are told he is a god, but what is that really all about? These aliens are even more confusing and have more ill-defined powers than DC’s god-like alien Jor-El.

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