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Marvel Comics Superhero 'Thor' Hits Big Screen

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.

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Alan Silverman

A super-hero inspired by Norse mythology leaps from the pages of Marvel Comics onto the big screen in an action adventure directed by Kenneth Branagh. Here's a look at Thor.



THOR:
"What realm  is this? Alfheim? Nordheim?"
WOMAN: "New Mexico."
THOR: "Oh no, this is Earth, isn't it?"
WOMAN: "Where did he come from?"

The muscular, blond-haired warrior comes from Asgard, a world ruled by his father Odin. In ancient times, the Asgardians were heralded as gods when they visited the lands of the Vikings. In this modern-day adventure, Thor lands on Earth after being cast out by his father.

"You are unworthy of these realms! You are unworthy of your title! You are unworthy! I now take from you your powers. In the name of my father and his father before, I cast you out!"



Without the magical hammer that he wielded, Thor is just another handsome warrior. But to scientist Jane Porter, played by Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, he seems to be much more and she wants to learn all about his home.

Left to right: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.
Left to right: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.

"Your ancestors called it magic and you call it science. I come from a place where they are one and the same," the superhero tells Porter.

Thor made his comic book debut in 1962. Five decades later, the Marvel Comics hero is a movie star in Kenneth Branagh's film of the same name.

Left to right: Chris Hemsworth (as Thor), Stellan Skarsgård (as Selvig), and director Kenneth Branagh discuss a scene on the set of THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.
Left to right: Chris Hemsworth (as Thor), Stellan Skarsgård (as Selvig), and director Kenneth Branagh discuss a scene on the set of THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.

"I liked his wild quality. I liked the Viking at the center of it," Branagh says. "That's what I saw in those images in a comic book: that he was volatile. ...One of the things we were trying to achieve in the telling of the story is that he would feel 'in the moment,' that there could be some kind of genuine danger."

Branagh picked a rising young star from Australia to play the Teutonic warrior-god. Chris Hemsworth knew he needed to please Thor's many fans around the world.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.

"I started with the comic books. I didn't read however many thousands there are, 40 or 50 years worth, but I certainly read enough to get a sense of who he was and the world he was from," explains Hemsworth. "Then I read some things about Norse mythology. You fill your head with whatever information and research you have, but on set it was just about making it truthful."

Award-winning British actor Tom Hiddleston co-stars as Thor's mischievous half-brother Loki.

Left to right: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.
Left to right: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.

"If you boil this film down to its barest elements, it's about two brothers competing for the love and affection and pride of their father, Odin," he explains.


Kenneth Branagh has described the Thor plot as Shakespearean. But Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins, who plays Odin, says he found inspiration in classic Hollywood movies.

Odin (Anthony Hopkins) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.
Odin (Anthony Hopkins) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.

"We had about a week's readings beforehand;  we talked a bit about the good old westerns," recalls Hopkins. "There's a wonderful film called Lawmen, which Ken and I talked about. It starred Burt Lancaster and was a great movie about rival factions: the father, played by Lee J. Cobb, and all these bad sons he's got -- to have that sort of feeling of the autocratic father and the troublesome sons."

"He has disobeyed his king. His fate is in his own hands now."

Branagh says he is not suggesting Thor is on a par with Shakespeare. But he insists the themes are similar and familiar.

"I think the connection, if there is one, is that the stakes are high," explains Brahagh. "So in something like Henry IV or Henry V where the young Prince Hal is a reckless man falling into bad company, could that prince be the king? Is he the right man for the job? That kind of story of a flawed hero who must earn the right to be king is in our piece; but I think what is key is the stakes. There it is Europe and England and power; here it is the universe."

Just as he does in the comic books, Thor will make an appearance in The Avengers, an upcoming action-adventure film that brings together an assortment of Marvel Comics heroes - and villains.



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