Thor is a 2011 American superhero film based on the comic book character of the same name published by Marvel Comics and is the fourth film released as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgård. The film tells the story of Thor, a god who is exiled from his homeland of Asgard to Earth. While there, he builds a relationship with scientist Jane Foster. However, Thor must stop his brother Loki, who intends to become the new king of Asgard.
Director Sam Raimi first developed the concept of a film adaptation of Thor in 2001, 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 Studios signed Mark Protosevich to develop the project in 2006, and the project was set up at Paramount Pictures. Matthew Vaughn was originally 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 into 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 was released on April 21, 2011 in Australia and on May 6, 2011 in the United States. The film became a financial and critical success, grossing $394 million worldwide and "Certified Fresh" by the review-aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
In 965 A.D., Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, wages war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey (Colm Feore), to prevent them from conquering the Nine Realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.
In the present, Odin's son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, but is interrupted when Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin's order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey, accompanied by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), childhood friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three; Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). 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, accompanied by his hammer Mjolnir — the source of his power, now protected by a spell to allow only the worthy to wield it.
Thor lands in New Mexico, where scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), find him. The local populace finds Mjolnir, which S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) soon commandeers before forcibly acquiring Jane'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. quickly 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 Jane.
Loki discovers he is Laufey's son, adopted by Odin after the war ended. When Odin, overcome with stress, falls into the deep "Odinsleep" that allows him to recuperate, Loki becomes king 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 (Idris Elba), 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 finds his sacrifice has proven him worthy to wield Mjolnir. The hammer returns to him, restoring his powers and enabling him to defeat the Destroyer. Kissing Jane goodbye and vowing to return, he and his fellow Asgardians return 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, and thus prove himself worthy to Odin. 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 to his apparent death. Thor makes amends with Odin, admitting he is not ready to be king, while on Earth, Jane and her team search for a way to open a portal to Asgard.
In a post-credits scene, Selvig has been taken to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) asks him to study an unnamed device, which Fury says may hold untold power. Loki, invisible, whispers to Selvig to agree, which Selvig does.
The god of thunder based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name. Director Kenneth Branagh and Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige chose Hemsworth after a back-and-forth process in which the 27-year-old actor was initially dropped from consideration and then given a second chance to read for the part. Hemsworth stated that he gained 20 pounds for the role by eating non-stop and revealed that "It wasn't until Thor that I started lifting weights, it was all pretty new to me". Regarding his take of the character, Hemsworth said, "We just kept trying to humanize it all, and keep it very real. Look into all the research about the comic books that we could, but also bring it back to 'Who is this guy as a person, and what's his relationship with people in the individual scenes?'" About approaching Thor's fighting style, he remarked, "First, we looked at the comic books and the posturing, the way [Thor] moves and fights, and a lot of his power seems to be drawn up through the ground. We talked about boxers, you know, Mike Tyson, very low to the ground and big open chest and big shoulder swings and very sort of brutal but graceful at the same time, and then as we shot stuff things became easier".
A scientist and Thor's love interest. Marvel Studios stated in an announcement that the character was updated from the comics' initial portrayal for the feature adaptation. When asked why she took the role, Portman replied, "I just thought it sounded like a weird idea because Kenneth Branagh's directing it, so I was just like, 'Kenneth Branagh doing Thor is super-weird, I've gotta do it.'" Portman also stated that she really wanted to do a big effects movie that emphasized character, and getting to do it with Branagh was a new way of approaching it, relative to Star Wars. Regarding her preparation for the role Portman remarked, "I signed on to do it before there was a script. And Ken, who's amazing, who is so incredible, was like, 'You can really help create this character'. I got to read all of these biographies of female scientists like Rosalind Franklin who actually discovered the DNA double helix but didn't get the credit for it. The struggles they had and the way that they thought – I was like, ‘What a great opportunity, in a very big movie that is going to be seen by a lot of people, to have a woman as a scientist'. She's a very serious scientist. Because in the comic she's a nurse and now they made her an astrophysicist. Really, I know it sounds silly, but it is those little things that makes girls think it's possible. It doesn't give them a [role] model of 'Oh, I just have to dress cute in movies'".
Thor's adoptive brother and nemesis based on the deity of the same name. Hiddleston was chosen after previously working with Branagh on Ivanov and Wallander. Initially Hiddleston auditioned to play Thor but Branagh decided his talent would be better harnessed playing Loki. Hiddleston stated that "Loki's like a comic book version of Edmund in King Lear, but nastier". Hiddleston also stated that he had to keep a strict diet before the start of filming because "Ken [Branagh] wants Loki to have a lean and hungry look, like Cassius in Julius Caesar. Physically, he can't be posing as Thor". Hiddleston looked at Peter O'Toole as inspiration for Loki as well explaining, "Interestingly enough, he [Kenneth Branagh] said to look at Peter O'Toole in two specific films, The Lion in Winter and Lawrence of Arabia. What’s interesting about The Lion in Winter is, [O'Toole] plays Prince Henry, and what’s beautiful about his performance is you see how damaged he is. There's a rawness [to his performance], it's almost as if he's living with a layer of skin peeled away. He's grandiose and teary and, in a moment, by turns hilarious and then terrifying. What we wanted was that emotional volatility. It’s a different acting style, it's not quite the same thing, but it’s fascinating to go back and watch an actor as great as O'Toole head for those great high hills".
The ruler of Asgard, father of Thor, and adoptive father of Loki, based on the mythological deity of the same name. In an interview Hopkins stated he knew nothing of the comic. About the film he said, "It's a superhero movie, but with a bit of Shakespeare thrown in". Hopkins stated, "I'm very interested in that relationship between fathers and sons", and that, "My father's relationship with me was cold. He was a hot-blood character but to me, cold. When I was young, he expressed his disappointment because I was bad in school and all of that. He didn't mean any harm, but I felt I could never meet up to his expectations." Hopkins also expressed that he finds a personal resonance in the Odin role, saying, "He's a stern man. He's a man with purpose. I play the god who banishes his son from the kingdom of Asgard because he screwed up. He's a hot-headed, temperamental young man... probably a chip off of the old block but I decide he's not really ready to rule the future kingdom, so I banish him. I'm harsh and my wife complains and I say, 'That is why I'm king.' He's ruthless, take-it-or-leave-it. Women are much more forgiving; men are not so forgiving. I know in my life, my karma is, 'If you don't like it, tough, move on.' And I move on. I'm a little like Odin myself".
- Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig:
A scientist doing research in New Mexico who encounters Thor. Skarsgård stated that he was not initially familiar with Thor. As to why he took the part, Skarsgård remarked, I "chose Thor because of [director] Kenneth Branagh. The script was nice and we got to rehearse and talk to the writers and do some collaborating in the process to make it fit us. So I had a very happy time on it. What I always try to do is immediately do something I just haven’t done so I get variation in my life. I’ve made about 90 films and if I did the same thing over and over again I would be bored by now. I try to pick different films, I go and do those big ones and having done that I can usually afford to go and do some really small obscure films and experiment a little".
- Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis:
A co-worker of Jane Foster. Dennings described her character as Foster's "little helper gnome". Dennings also stated that her role was expanded during the rehearsal process. Dennings explained, "She’s kind of like a cute, clueless, little puppy or maybe a hamster. There wasn't much on the page for the Darcy role to begin with and I didn't even see a script before I took the job so I didn't really know who Darcy was at first. But she really evolved — she’s so much fun now even. She's very Scooby-Doo if that makes sense. She’s always three steps behind and reacting to what's happening with these great expressions ... She gets things wrong and doesn’t care."
The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the bifröst bridge, based on the mythological deity of the same name. Elba said Branagh's involvement was a major incentive to take the role: "[Branagh] called me up personally and said, 'I know this isn’t a big role, but I would really love to see you play it.' It's Kenneth Branagh. I was like, 'Definitely'". About the role Elba remarked, "I did green screen for the first time! I wouldn’t like to do a whole movie of green screen, though. You kind of forget the plot a little—like being in a Broadway play and doing it over and over and forgetting your line halfway through". Elba stated he has made a four-picture commitment with Marvel Studios. Elba's casting prompted a debate amongst comic book fans and a proposed boycott by the Council of Conservative Citizens, some insisting it was wrong for a black man to play a Nordic god. In response Elba called the debate "ridiculous".
King of the Frost Giants and Loki's biological father, based on the mythological being of the same name. Feore stated it took five hours for his makeup to be applied. About his character Feore remarked, "I am the King of Frost Giants. And if you’ve seen any of the Frost Giants, you know that I am, of course, the Napoleon of Frost Giants. We’ve got some massive, fabulous guys who dwarf me and come in at around eight-and-a-half feet, nine feet. But, no. Can’t you tell by the commanding presence? I am the boss".
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. Stevenson previously worked with Kenneth Branagh in the 1998 film The Theory of Flight, and with Marvel Studios as the titular character in Punisher: War Zone. Stevenson wore a fat suit for the role, stating, "I've tried the suit on, and what they've done is kind of sex him up: he's sort of slimmer but rounder.". Stevenson said, "He's got every bit of that Falstaffian verve and vigor, and a bit of a beer gut to suggest that enormous appetite, but he's not the sort of Weeble-shaped figure he is in the comics. He's Falstaff with muscles. I've got this amazing foam-injected undersuit that flexes with me.".
A member of the Warriors Three, primarily identified by his grim demeanor and as the only member who is not an Æsir. Ray Stevenson said of Asano's character, "He doesn’t speak much but when he does, everybody shuts up. But also in the healing room where everyone licks their wounds, he’s the guy who just goes about his business".
A member of the Warriors Three, characterized as an irrepressible swashbuckler and romantic.Stuart Townsend was initially cast after Zachary Levi was forced to vacate the role due to a scheduling conflict. However, days before filming began, Townsend was replaced by Dallas citing "creative differences". Dallas said he believed that Fandral "would like to think of himself a philanderer. He would like to think of himself, I was saying, as the R. Kelly of Asgard. He’s a lover, not a fighter". Dallas also mentioned that Errol Flynn was an inspiration for the character stating, "He was a big inspiration for the character and for me. I watched a lot of his movies and kind of got that into my bones. I tried to bring out that little bit of Flynn-ness in it. Flynn had a lot of that boyish charm that Fandral's got...."
A warrior and Thor's childhood friend based on the mythological deity of the same name. Alexander is best known for her portrayal of Jessi XX on the ABC Family series Kyle XY. Alexander said that she was familiar with Marvel Comics before having taken the part, having grown up with four brothers. Alexander said the part required hours a day in the gym, though training is not unfamiliar to her, explaining she was one of few girls on her Colleyville, Texas, high-school wrestling team. Alexander described her character as "one of the guys" and that, "She's a very talented, skilled warrior and can stand on her own against any villain in the film". About her relationship with Thor she stated, "She is very loyal to Thor and cares a lot about protecting him and protecting Asgard".
The wife of Odin, queen of Asgard, stepmother of Thor and adoptive mother of Loki, based on the mythological deity of the same name. Russo stated in March 2011 interview that she has signed on for possible sequels, joking that, "Eventually they'll kick me out, so who knows how many I'll do".