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Thor is a 2011 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures, it is the fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It was directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by the writing team of Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz along with Don Payne, and stars Chris Hemsworth as the title character alongside Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, and Anthony Hopkins. After reigniting a dormant war, Thor is banished from Asgard to Earth, stripped of his powers and his hammer Mjölnir. As his brother Loki plots to take the Asgardian throne, Thor must prove himself worthy.

Sam Raimi first developed the concept of a film adaptation based on Thor in 1991, but soon abandoned the project, leaving it in "development hell" for several years. During this time, the rights were picked up by various film studios until Marvel signed Mark Protosevich to develop the project in 2006, and planned to finance and release it through Paramount. Matthew Vaughn was assigned to direct the film for a tentative 2010 release. However, after Vaughn was released from his holding deal in 2008, Branagh was approached and the film's release was rescheduled to 2011. The main characters were cast in 2009, and principal photography took place in California and New Mexico from January to May 2010. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.

Thor premiered in Sydney on April 17, 2011, and was released in the United States on May 6, as part of Phase One of the MCU. The film was a financial success, earning $449.3 million worldwide, and was positively reviewed for its performances but received criticism for some of its plot. Two sequels have been released: Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017). A fourth film, Thor: Love and Thunder, is scheduled to be released in 2022.

Plot

In 965 AD, Odin, king of Asgard, wages war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey, to prevent them from conquering the Nine Realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants in Tønsberg, Norway, and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.

In the present, Odin's son Thor prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, but is interrupted when Frost Giants, secretly allowed in by his brother Loki, attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin's order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey, accompanied by Loki, childhood friend Sif and the Warriors Three: Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun. A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor's arrogance, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him to Earth as a mortal, accompanied by his hammer Mjölnir, now protected by an enchantment that allows only the worthy to wield it.

Thor lands in New Mexico, where astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster, her assistant Darcy Lewis, and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig find him. The local populace finds Mjolnir, which S.H.I.E.L.D.agent Phil Coulson soon commandeers before forcibly acquiring Foster's data about the wormhole that delivered Thor to Earth. Thor, having discovered Mjolnir's nearby location, seeks to retrieve it from the facility that S.H.I.E.L.D. has constructed, but he finds himself unable to lift it and is captured. With Selvig's help, he is freed and resigns himself to exile on Earth as he develops a romance with Foster.

Loki discovers that he is Laufey's biological son, adopted by Odin after the war ended. Loki confronts Odin, who wearily falls into the deep "Odinsleep" to recover his strength. Loki takes the throne in Odin's stead and offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket. Sif and the Warriors Three, unhappy with Loki's rule, attempt to return Thor from exile, convincing Heimdall, gatekeeper of the Bifröst—the means of traveling between worlds—to allow them passage to Earth. Aware of their plan, Loki sends the Destroyer, a seemingly indestructible automaton, to pursue them and kill Thor. The warriors find Thor, but the Destroyer attacks and defeats them, prompting Thor to offer himself instead. Struck by the Destroyer and near death, Thor proves himself worthy by his sacrifice to wield Mjölnir. The hammer returns to him, restoring his powers and enabling him to defeat the Destroyer. Kissing Foster goodbye and vowing to return, he leaves with his fellow Asgardians to confront Loki.

In Asgard, Loki betrays and kills Laufey, revealing his true plan to use Laufey's attempt on Odin's life as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim with the Bifröst Bridge, thus proving himself worthy to his adoptive father. Thor arrives and fights Loki before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki's plan, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin awakens and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss created in the wake of the bridge's destruction, but Loki allows himself to fall when Odin rejects his pleas for approval. Thor makes amends with Odin, admitting he is not ready to be king; meanwhile, on Earth, Foster and her team search for a way to open a portal to Asgard.

In a post-credits scene, Selvig is taken to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where Nick Fury opens a briefcase and asks him to study a mysterious cube-shaped object, which Fury says may hold untold power. An invisible Loki prompts Selvig to agree, and he does.

Cast

  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor, the crown prince of Asgard, based on the Norse mythologicaldeity of the same name.
    • Dakota Goyo portrays a young Thor.
  • Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, a scientist and Thor's love interest.
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor's adoptive brother and nemesis, based on the deity of the same name.
    • Ted Allpress portrays a young Loki.
  • Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, a scientist doing research in New Mexico who encounters Thor.
  • Colm Feore as Laufey, King of the Frost Giants and Loki's biological father, based on the mythological being of the same name, who in myth was actually Loki's mother.
  • Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, a member of the Warriors Three, a group of three Asgardian adventurers who are among Thor's closest comrades, known for both his hearty appetite and wide girth.
  • Idris Elba as Heimdall, the all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the bifröst bridge, based on the mythological deity of the same name.
  • Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, a political science major who is Jane Foster's intern.
  • Rene Russo as Frigga, the wife of Odin, queen of Asgard, mother of Thor, and adoptive mother of Loki, based on the mythological deity of the same name.
  • Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the ruler of Asgard, father of Thor, and adoptive father of Loki, based on the mythological deity of the same name.
  • Tadanobu Asano as Hogun, a member of the Warriors Three, primarily identified by his grim demeanor and as the only member who is not an Æsir.
  • Josh Dallas as Fandral, a member of the Warriors Three, characterized as an irrepressible swashbuckler and romantic.
  • Jaimie Alexander as Sif, a warrior and Thor's childhood friend, based on the mythological deity of the same name.

Additionally, Clark Gregg reprises his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson from the Iron Man films. Maximiliano Hernández appears as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell, Adriana Barraza plays diner owner Isabella Alvarez and Isaac Kappy plays a pet store clerk. Joseph Gatt, Joshua Cox, and Douglas Tait portray Frost Giants. Stan Lee and J. Michael Straczynski have cameo appearances as pick-up truck drivers, Walter Simonson has a cameo appearance as one of the guests at a large Asgardian banquet, and Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner have uncredited cameos as Nick Fury and Clint Barton, respectively.

Reception

Box Office

Thor earned $181 million in North America and $268.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $449.3 million. It was the 15th highest-grossing film of 2011.

Thor earned $25.5 million on its opening day in the United States and Canada, including $3.3 million from Thursday previews, for a total weekend gross of $65.7 million. $6.2 million of the gross came from IMAX 3D, while 60% of the gross was from 3D screenings. It became the tenth highest-grossing film of 2011 in the United States and Canada, and the highest-grossing comic-book film from May–August 2011.

Thor's opening in Australia generated $5.8 million and placing second behind Universal Pictures' Fast Five. The film's box office was just 1% more than Iron Man opening in Australia in 2008, Marvel's most popular release at the time. The following week, Thor opened in 56 markets and took in $89.2 million through the weekend. The film's highest grossing markets were the United Kingdom ($22.5 million), Australia ($20.1 million) and Mexico ($19.5 million).

Critical Response

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported a 77% approval rating, with an average rating of 6.70/10, based on 289 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment." Metacritic assigned a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.

Sequels

A sequel, Thor: The Dark World, directed by Alan Taylor, was released on November 8, 2013. Hemsworth, Hiddleston, and Portman reprised their roles, along with others from the first film. Zachary Levi replaced Dallas as Fandral, while Christopher Eccleston joined the cast as the Dark Elf Malekith.

A second sequel, Thor: Ragnarok, was released on November 3, 2017, directed by Taika Waititi. Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost wrote the screenplay, with Kevin Feige again producing. Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Hopkins, Elba, Asano, Levi, and Stevenson reprised their roles as Thor, Loki, Odin, Heimdall, Hogun, Fandral, and Volstagg, respectively, while Mark Ruffalo and Benedict Cumberbatch appeared as Bruce Banner / Hulk and Stephen Strange respectively, reprising their roles from previous MCU films. Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum and Karl Urban joined the cast as Hela, Valkyrie, Grandmaster, and Skurge, respectively.

A third sequel named Thor: Love and Thunder is scheduled to be released on May 6, 2022. Both Hemsworth and Thompson will reprise their roles, with Natalie Portman returning after not appearing in Thor: Ragnarok. Portman will portray her character taking on the mantle of Thor, similar to the comics.

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