Friday, April 29, 2011

Thor (2011) Not A Review Rather A Brief Thor-ght From a Thor-ally Forgettable Movie

I’m not sure I like the  remediation of the Marvel comic character Thor. I went to see it in 3D simply to fill in a couple of hours on a Friday night while my wife was in a Math’s exam. Thor of course is the Norse God of thunder and war, and also a character in the Marvel comic world. The movie is a retelling of his origins as a super hero.

There is an interesting blend of Myth and Science fiction, some good CGI of other worlds, Chris helmsman provides some eye candy for the ladies, and Anthony Hopkins adds some weight and solemnity to the role of Odin and Natalie Portman is allowed to be a romantic interest that is both intelligent and human. I did appreciate the fact that Director Kenneth Branagh knows how to use 3D as a tool to enhance story telling rather than as a gimmick. The 3D wasn’t all in your face, you can guess which way the spear or rock or whatever is going to come. The sweeps through space and across iconic South Western US desert landscape were exceptional. My daughter couldn’t help but wonder when the 3D technology will get over the whole looking like a diorama thing and become more authentic.

However I found myself coming away from this retelling of ancient and comic myth with a couple of reflections from my Christian perspective.

The first came from a line in a dialogue between the character Erik Selvig (played by Stellan Skarsgard) , a mentor to Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster character, and Thor (chris Hemsworth). Thor has been exiled after disobeying his father, showing his arrogance and lack of maturity. Now on earth he is thwarted from regaining his hammer and his powers by his father words only one who is worthy can weld such power. Selvig comments that “It’s only when we realise that we don’t have all the answers that start to be able to ask the right questions?”. I couldn’t help but wonder about the western evangelical approach to the gospel when he said this. The Myth we hold on to is that Jesus is the answer. We’ve got all the answers and I wonder if that has meant that we haven’t been able to ask the right questions and learn. Is it part of the reason that there is a mistrust of fundamentalism; I also see it is a reason that it is a good thing that in the west the church is being removed from it privileged position in the centre of our society.

Maybe instead of being the Answer, we need to embrace Jesus as our question, the one who we, the church, let ask us the questions. In my reading of the gospel that does seem to be the basic relationship between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day. They were pious and dedicated and thought they knew the answers and Jesus, with grace, challenges all their perceptions. Just maybe Jesus is the question, the one who initiates and guide us on our quest. We have traded Jesus who is the way the truth and the life which are words which for me at least invoke journey and discovery with the word Answer that denote an end and a stopping. This is not original thought and I looked through my bookshelves for the book of Leonard Sweets that first twigged me to this upside-down understanding of the kingdom of God.

The second thing that I reflected on was that the response of Thor to this in the next couple of scenes was to engage in relationship with humans. He listens and shares his understanding of things with Jane Foster as a fellow being after having had a superior attitude before this and then there is a scene of breakfast the next day where Thor is seen serving Jane and Selvig and , and Jane’s comic sidekick Darcy breakfast. From my Christian perspective I couldn’t help but see the biblical idea of leadership as being a servant, the word diakonos ; literally means to wait tables. This is the posture that comes when we are willing to lose the arrogance of thinking we have the answers to being willing to ask the right questions.

Am I right to draw such reflections on the Christian faith in the west, from someone elses myths and meanderings??? As a brief answer I was amazed at the mixed symbolism of the movie particularly when Odin puts his judgement on Thor's hammer the image of a Celtic knot appears in the shape of a triangle, without beginning and end. Which of course is a symbol of the trinity.


  1. I'm waiting for the Green Lantern movie - hoping it'll capture the space opera present in the comic books (and get away from the primacy of humans as the only superheroes).

  2. i just finished watching the movie and was struck by the same lines for precisely the same reason as you. thus, i searched for it on the net and came across your Thor-ghts. thank you :)