Friday, April 22, 2011

Why Thor Sucks and Wonder Woman isn’t quite as bad

There’s a wonderful movie studio called The Asylum that stays in business putting out movies that sound like movies you may have heard of (but not porn) like Snakes on a Train, The Day the Earth Stopped, Transmorphers and its sequel Transmorphers: Fall of Man. That last gem features one Bruce Boxleitner a.k.a. Tron a.k.a. the guy whose only thing he’s got going on is Tron.

Today I came across a trailer for their next “mockbuster” Almighty Thor, featuring, of all people, the second chick that played Marta on "Arrested Development."

Now this may be a shameless attempt to cash in on Marvel’s upcoming Thor movie but once I got to thinking I realized, unlike Asylum’s usual movies based on sleazy slight name-altering and public domain plundering, they have every right to make this movie. Marvel doesn’t own Thor and the fact that they sort of act like they do kind of bothers me.

Thor, the Marvel comics character not the Norse god of thunder, was created by comic legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963. According to Wikipedia, he was Lee’s attempt to create a character stronger than the Hulk.

“How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god.”

But instead of coming up with something new, they instead co-opted an entire existing wholesale into their comic universe. Stan Lee has done countless positive things for the industry but I still feel that the idea of Thor as a comic character is stupid and sort of lazy.

Thor according to Marvel
Thor according to Wikipedia
And when you bring in a whole canon like that, problems arise when you start having to make existing changes. My familiarity with the Thor comic is admittedly weaker compared to my knowledge of other books, but luckily most of my issues are more connected to the upcoming movie. It does look good but it highlights several problems I’ve always had with Marvel, their upcoming movies and comics in general.

Take for example the controversy over the casting of black actor Idris Elba as an Asgardian, Heimdall. I’m as far as you can get from a white supremacist and I am totally for more black actors in fantasy/sci-fi movies. Word is Elba is actually really good in the role. But chances are when Vikings were coming up with their gods, they problem imagined them as a bunch of white dudes. It’s stupid, nitpicky conflicts like those (or the idea of a “peaceful” Valhalla) between the comic version and perceived “real” version that say to me Thor as comic character was a bad idea in the first place.

To be fair, Kenneth Branagh was a good director this pseudo-Shakespeare plot and the stormy rain imagery is neat and appropriate. And it's set in New Mexico cuz why not. 

Then there’s the whole shared universe nonsense. If you didn’t know, in the comics Marvel’s characters all exist in the same universe and the current plan is to bring that concept into the movies. It’s one of the main reasons comic continuity is so dense and impenetrable as well as why they can look so garish at times with a dozen different colorful styles all clashing at once and killing all artistic consistency. I can forgive this in comics since serialized stories are necessary for sales and no one reads comics anyway (and comics are so reactionary to the movies at this point like the current increased relevance of Thor and Captain America just before their movies hit), but please don’t start bringing that junk into my movies.

I can buy Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America, all existing in the same world. They are all vaguely sci-fi-ish. But once again Thor is the source of the issue. No matter what kind of throwaway line they come up, “I come from a place where magic and science are one and the same”, the fantasy elements inherent to the character (rainbow bridges and frost giants) are a logic leap too far for this previously established universe. It’s not that I don’t like fantasy, although I kind of don’t, but I think it’s a bad move shoehorning all of these characters into one thing, a potential cluster train wreck (although a possibly awesomely fascinating one) in the making called The Avengers.

he doesn’t need to be chilling with Space Vikings

If anything, I think Thor should be more fantastical. Making the character fit in this universe requires needless compromises the may potentially hurt the franchise. Outside the whole magic=science line, here is what Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige had to say about the movie’s genre. One of the most patently absurd things I've ever heard seriously come out of a man's mouth.

“We're not doing the blow-the-dust-off-the-old-Norse-book-in-your-library Thor. And, in the Thor of the Marvel universe there's a race called The Asgardians, and we're linked through this tree of life that we're unaware of. It's real science, but we don't know about it yet. The Thor movie is about teaching people that.”

I’m sorry, but what? So it’s really a sci-fi movie, not fantasy? Please tell me that I’m not the only one that imagines Lord of the Rings when they think of Thor as opposed to something like Predator. It’s this line of thinking that made Iron Man 2 a two hour Avengers trailer, fired Ed Norton from the Hulk made Jon Favreau leave Iron Man 3 (although Shane Black is a pretty worthy replacement). You can’t run a movie studio as authoritarian as a comic company. Directors, actors and writers have visions too and they get stifled if all you care about is how to fit all these pieces into a tidy little puzzle while weakening your franchises as individual, self-contained units in the process.

Spider-Man and X-Men are safe for now since their movie rights are with other studios that have their own ways of meddling with things. But really, do you really want Marvel to get their way? Do you really want Tony Stark to fly into the X-mansion? It brings up questions like “why are mutants only an issue in the X-Men movies?” and “why are people only racist against people who were born with powers while people are got them some other way like Spider-Man are totally fine?”

and he has no reason to associate with robot suits

Going back to the whole “stealing real mythologies” issue, you know who else is a victim of that? Wonder Woman. The difference though is that unlike Thor, Wonder Woman herself is an interesting original character, with a ridiculous story behind her creation, so no one really pays attention that the rest of her mythos is just Greek mythology wholesale. But if they ever get Wonder Woman in theaters in something other than a Justice League movie, expect similarly weird stuff to happen once Hercules suddenly shows up, who by the way once fought Thor according to Marvel. Maybe in the upcoming TV show? (edit, turns out no)

It’s not that I think Thor will be bad a movie. I’m excited for it just not what it represents. So yeah, Marvel, stop it. Or rather, since it’s too late, go back in time and stop it. Use that Spider-Man money. When it comes to movies, as neat as the alternative seems now, go back to separation of the franchises.

I know a fair bit about comics and, like with movies and video games, I like to revel in their often times stupid plots and hilarious backstories. Expect more musings in the future.

By the way, Asylum’s Thor totally has a gun so by Odin’s beard he already wins.

In 3D? Really?


  1. That really makes a lot of sense. Maybe they wanted a character that was similar enough to Thor that they decided to call a spade a spade and name him as such. I never knew that about Wonder Woman, though, although I've always thought she was a much more interesting character than Thor.

    Where's our Wonder Woman movie? ...Wait, I feel like bad things would happen if someone produced that. It'd either be crazy feminist or super sexualized, and neither would be great. v_v;

  2. You don't have a clue what you are talking about, you sound like an idiot when you are trying to make any point. The whole idea of the Marvel Universe is to create an alternate reality where the unbelievable can exist. There are Aliens, Gods, super heroes, mutants, magic, ect. Don't hate on Thor because the concept doesn't make since to you, or you think he isn't realistic enough for you. Your only reasoning for Wonder Woman being better that Thor is because she is an original character? You are an idiot.

  3. I kinda agree with IBR(except for the idiot part), Marvel perpetually kicks DC's ass because their universe is much more believable than DC's. Wonder Woman is a laughable character; WW...just as much of DC's characters had to be rebooted at least 3 times. Reboots of characters occur when writers realize that no one gives a shit about their lame ass characters. WW could have been something interesting instead of a sorry ass female counter part to Superman. The ONLY reason why WW is still around is because for some reason DC 'subsidizing' the character...I mean really..who the fuck really reads WW, or brings her up in the average nerd convo when it turns to comics ?

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  5. Ice Blue Rhino: Thor is my ancestors god and that makes him a very unoriginal character indeed. That isn't enough though, because Marvel Thor isn't like the true Thor at all, so it's also a bad copy of a great character. Stealing a character like that is so simple and cheap, it's like makeing Jesus into a superhero.
    But when you steal Jesus and make him a superhero, make sure he drinks, swears and have sex, because that's how much they changed Thor.

  6. Really?its like making Jesus a super hero? shut the fuck up