Thor: A Pagan Review of the Film

Thor is epic. It’s not true to the lore but it’s a good film. There are no spoilers in this review (from my POV).

Disappointments? Sure.

Rene Russo was less than epic as Frigga. She wasn’t bad, but she didn’t strike me as regal and commanding enough for the role. Looking the part simply isn’t enough.

I felt there was too much effort spent trying to bridge (pardon the pun) science and magic. You don’t have to rubber ducky* everything. Sometimes mystery is good.

Sif’s hair still bugs me. I know. I need to let this go.

Loki’s story doesn’t match the lore, yet some essence of him is intact. His relationship with Odin, although characterized differently in the film still carries that odd ineffable sense of connection and tension.

The Jotun’s ain’t pretty. I can’t imagine any God, or human, ever wanting to mate with one. Ever.

If you honor, reverence or worship the Jotun or Loki, you may not like this film. Not a disappointment for me, but an FYI.

Will The Portman please stop playing the main squeeze for sci-fi characters? Seriously? She should have “Romantic Sidekick” tattooed on her forehead at this point.

I dislike 3D. Really it wasn’t bad in Thor, but yeah, 3D is a ridiculous gimmick.

The costumes are a bit weird, but you get used to them. At least, I got used to them.

What I Loved!

Jotunheim was incredible, as were the Jotuns. I couldn’t imagine what a Frost Giant looked like unless it was Hagrid covered in snow. They were rather epic, if not beauteous.

Even though they are aliens technically, there are parts of the movie that are awe-inspiring. They speak, walk, talk, think and act as Gods. They speak of the lore in ways that resonate with me as a Pagan.

Chris Helmsworth does an excellent job of illustrating the coming of age of a God, and of a man. He exudes the energy, attitude and bearing I would expect from Thor every moment of the film. Not to mention he is very, very easy on the eyes. He also through the story showed how Thor gained wisdom, and wasn’t afraid to laugh at himself.

Asgard was as I imagine it in my mind’s eye: a shining realm filled with treasures, fires, roast boar, and feasting halls. Well done.

Bifrost was better than I imagined. The attempt to explain it scientifically swept aside, it was astounding and lovely. I think I may always see Bifrost as pictured in this film.

Anthony Hopkins does an excellent job as Odin. There’s some weirdness that I attribute to the comic book, but overall he exemplified how I see the All-Father: wise, courageous, decisive and just a wee bit shifty.

Loki fits how I picture him from the Eddas, but maybe a bit sadder. His story is rubber duckied*, but his reactions and plotting fit how I see him. I’m not a fan of Loki. Someone who is might be able to provide more insight.

Heimdall, so gossiped over since Idris Elba was cast, may be my favorite thing in the whole film, next to Bifrost itself. He is Heimdall without equivocation or reservation. In every action and line he is the Guardian of Bifrost, loyal warrior, ever watching and ever vigilant. Every scene with him made my heart soar. Idris Elba could be an albino and not have played him any better. I am completely in love with Heimdall in this movie. He is the one character most true to the lore in deed, word and presence. His last scene in the film completely sums up all you need to know about Heimdall for me.

On the geeky side: the Stan Lee cameo is priceless, and so is the Tony Stark reference.

So What Does This Mean To Pagans?

Thor is essentially about honor, wisdom, courage, honesty, responsibility and family. It’s Heathen values in action. In that respect I think it represents Heathenry well.

Thor, Odin and Heimdall have a dignity and gravity that commands respect. I think I would follow these representations of the Gods into battle, even to Ragnarok itself.

I was inspired by what I could see of Heathen values, lore and Gods shine through this film. I could see people, especially those looking for a warrior ethic, really being inspired by this film. I think this film could be a flashpoint for people already looking for Heathenry, including those who aren’t aware they are looking for it yet.

So there it is. I liked it. If you’ve read the blog you know I’m apt to like things. Did you love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments!

*To rubber ducky is to over-explain something according to Sidney Lumet: i.e They took his rubber ducky away and that’s why he’s a serial killer.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • brainwise

    Well done. I’m looking forward to seeing this flick. Possibly soon!

  • http://profiles.google.com/ibrainwise Brian Weis

    Well done. I’m looking forward to seeing this flick. Possibly soon!

  • Kyttenn

    I haven’t seen this movie yet but isn’t it patterned after the comic book instead of actual lore?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Yes and the comic book is patterned after the lore. Watch the film, which could be a Norse mythos 101 class, before dismissing it as a comic film.

      • http://www.facebook.com/aagray Ariel Alexandria Gray

        disagree. i’m not totally up on norse mythology the way i am on classical, but even i was having some big-sigh moments over discrepancies – mostly to do with characterization and norse values. more informed people should feel free to correct me if i’ve got the wrong spin on this, but the ‘run, and live to fight another day’ mentality doesn’t belong anywhere near norse myth as i’ve come to understand it. i also don’t remember frigga being a total pussy who just sits and dotes on odin until someone shows up to slap her around.

        • Glenn

          Then I guess you do not remember that the Aesir lost the war to the Vanir and had to settle for peace. Sometimes as Odin said in the movie war is not the only way !

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Carron/100001353268347 David Carron

            “Then I guess you do not remember that the Aesir lost the war to the Vanir and had to settle for peace.”

            Um… No. You don’t “lose” and then “settle”. They came to an agreement sealed with an exchange of people and tribes. RTFE

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Read the Havamal. You can find it online. What I saw reflected the values found in the Havamal. Not being afraid of death is not the same as being fatalistic and suicidal. The Norse valued wisdom and discretion.

          • William

            One of Odin’s epithets is the “stirrer of strife.” He might as well have been King Solomon in this movie. Also, a brunette warrior Sif? Laufey as a male frost giant? I could go on and on about how badly this didn’t match up with any kind of Norse Lore. Not that I think it needed to, I just don’t agree with the claim made.

          • William

            On a more conciliatory note, though, I’d be interested to see your comparison between the Havamal and the Thor movie and how you think they match up.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            I think they would match up well, considering all the admonitions to heed wisdom in the Havamal.

  • Kyttenn

    I haven’t seen this movie yet but isn’t it patterned after the comic book instead of actual lore?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Yes and the comic book is patterned after the lore. Watch the film, which could be a Norse mythos 101 class, before dismissing it as a comic film.

      • http://www.facebook.com/aagray Ariel Alexandria Gray

        disagree. i’m not totally up on norse mythology the way i am on classical, but even i was having some big-sigh moments over discrepancies – mostly to do with characterization and norse values. more informed people should feel free to correct me if i’ve got the wrong spin on this, but the ‘run, and live to fight another day’ mentality doesn’t belong anywhere near norse myth as i’ve come to understand it. i also don’t remember frigga being a total pussy who just sits and dotes on odin until someone shows up to slap her around.

        • Glenn

          Then I guess you do not remember that the Aesir lost the war to the Vanir and had to settle for peace. Sometimes as Odin said in the movie war is not the only way !

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Carron/100001353268347 David Carron

            “Then I guess you do not remember that the Aesir lost the war to the Vanir and had to settle for peace.”

            Um… No. You don’t “lose” and then “settle”. They came to an agreement sealed with an exchange of people and tribes. RTFE

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Read the Havamal. You can find it online. What I saw reflected the values found in the Havamal. Not being afraid of death is not the same as being fatalistic and suicidal. The Norse valued wisdom and discretion.

          • William

            One of Odin’s epithets is the “stirrer of strife.” He might as well have been King Solomon in this movie. Also, a brunette warrior Sif? Laufey as a male frost giant? I could go on and on about how badly this didn’t match up with any kind of Norse Lore. Not that I think it needed to, I just don’t agree with the claim made.

          • William

            On a more conciliatory note, though, I’d be interested to see your comparison between the Havamal and the Thor movie and how you think they match up.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            I think they would match up well, considering all the admonitions to heed wisdom in the Havamal.

  • http://www.maidtoqueen.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

    I am going to see the movie tomorrow. I am a geek, so I am looking forward to it. Expect a review at The Juggler after I do.

    That being said, I do think that we do a disservice to both the film and the Pagan community to judge it based on mythology and not the comic books. Yes, the comic books are influenced by lore, but in the same way that O Brother Where Art Thou is based on the Odyssey.

    I think it is very much like judging a dog show. We can judge poodles against bulldogs, even in the best in show. Instead we judge poodles against poodles and bulldogs against bulldogs. I think we need to remember that Thor is a Marvel Comic movie first and foremost – and more than that it was made expressly for the purpose of making the Avengers in the future (a way for the studio to make *more* money on the franchise). By expecting the movie to live up to some Pagan standard is an easy way to be disappointed. And most of the movie-goers aren’t going to have the same frame of reference anyway. Most people didn’t go into “Percy Jackson and The Olympians” expecting to come out honoring the Theoi. I love Percy Jackson as a Hellenic Pagan, but I still view it from a Young Adult Fiction perspective and not a devotional perspective.

    As I said, though, I can’t wait to see it. I am a huge Marvel comics fan. I even dressed up as an Avenger for Dragon*Con last year (with a steampunk twist).

    • Laura M. LaVoie

      That should be “Can’t” judge poodles against bulldogs.

    • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

      I agree with this! My boyfriend isn’t Heathen per se but he definitely has leanings toward that. He also is a huge Marvel fan (as am I) and we both agreed, there isn’t really anyway a person could go into this thinking it as Norse Myth 101. Trying to judge is based on that mythology is (IMO anyway) really really bad. They’re completely different from each other, if anything the scene where folks (trying to avoid spoilers) attempt to explain what the bridge is hammers in (hehe) that viewpoint.

      That being said my suggestion is if you’re gonna see Thor and 2D viewings aren’t available (as was the case for me) splurge and see it in IMAX. It is AMAZING in IMAX.

  • http://www.maidtoqueen.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

    I am going to see the movie tomorrow. I am a geek, so I am looking forward to it. Expect a review at The Juggler after I do.

    That being said, I do think that we do a disservice to both the film and the Pagan community to judge it based on mythology and not the comic books. Yes, the comic books are influenced by lore, but in the same way that O Brother Where Art Thou is based on the Odyssey.

    I think it is very much like judging a dog show. We can judge poodles against bulldogs, even in the best in show. Instead we judge poodles against poodles and bulldogs against bulldogs. I think we need to remember that Thor is a Marvel Comic movie first and foremost – and more than that it was made expressly for the purpose of making the Avengers in the future (a way for the studio to make *more* money on the franchise). By expecting the movie to live up to some Pagan standard is an easy way to be disappointed. And most of the movie-goers aren’t going to have the same frame of reference anyway. Most people didn’t go into “Percy Jackson and The Olympians” expecting to come out honoring the Theoi. I love Percy Jackson as a Hellenic Pagan, but I still view it from a Young Adult Fiction perspective and not a devotional perspective.

    As I said, though, I can’t wait to see it. I am a huge Marvel comics fan. I even dressed up as an Avenger for Dragon*Con last year (with a steampunk twist).

    • Laura M. LaVoie

      That should be “Can’t” judge poodles against bulldogs.

    • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

      I agree with this! My boyfriend isn’t Heathen per se but he definitely has leanings toward that. He also is a huge Marvel fan (as am I) and we both agreed, there isn’t really anyway a person could go into this thinking it as Norse Myth 101. Trying to judge is based on that mythology is (IMO anyway) really really bad. They’re completely different from each other, if anything the scene where folks (trying to avoid spoilers) attempt to explain what the bridge is hammers in (hehe) that viewpoint.

      That being said my suggestion is if you’re gonna see Thor and 2D viewings aren’t available (as was the case for me) splurge and see it in IMAX. It is AMAZING in IMAX.

  • Glenn

    I saw it today in 3 – D. It was incredible ! I was shocked how well the studios did with Thor !

  • Glenn

    I saw it today in 3 – D. It was incredible ! I was shocked how well the studios did with Thor !

  • Philip Posehn

    I totally agree. Loved the film. My only complaint was that they only gave me a teasing 1 second view of Slephnir!

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Yeah, the movie needed more Sleipnir like Bieber needs more cowbell. I was hoping for more Sleipnir.

  • Philip Posehn

    I totally agree. Loved the film. My only complaint was that they only gave me a teasing 1 second view of Slephnir!

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Yeah, the movie needed more Sleipnir like Bieber needs more cowbell. I was hoping for more Sleipnir.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aagray Ariel Alexandria Gray

    pretty much hated it. after hearing that kenneth branagh was slated to direct, i expected something way, way more branagh-eqse, with the beautiful cinematography and emotional punch of his shakespeare films. i’m totally open to playing around with the myths, and i love the concept of aliens viewed as gods and a lot of the work jack kirby did with it, but about a third of the way through the movie i realized i would much, much rather be watching a movie of the actual myths, because the things that were changed weren’t changed in any sort of engaging way. as an example off the top of my head, loki – despite a stellar performance from tom hiddleston, who i adore – comes off as a sniveling daddy’s boy, who only manages to gain any semblance of power due to the fact that odin behaves like an idiot throughout the entire film.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I thought the cinematography and set design was quite lovely for an action film.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aagray Ariel Alexandria Gray

    pretty much hated it. after hearing that kenneth branagh was slated to direct, i expected something way, way more branagh-eqse, with the beautiful cinematography and emotional punch of his shakespeare films. i’m totally open to playing around with the myths, and i love the concept of aliens viewed as gods and a lot of the work jack kirby did with it, but about a third of the way through the movie i realized i would much, much rather be watching a movie of the actual myths, because the things that were changed weren’t changed in any sort of engaging way. as an example off the top of my head, loki – despite a stellar performance from tom hiddleston, who i adore – comes off as a sniveling daddy’s boy, who only manages to gain any semblance of power due to the fact that odin behaves like an idiot throughout the entire film.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I thought the cinematography and set design was quite lovely for an action film.

  • Ridetbred

    branagh directed this??? woo. i’m pretty much bound to love it. but i’m not all about rene russo, and agree with you that portman, while brilliant, is over-used in this capacity.
    i’m excited to see! :) khairete
    suz

  • Ridetbred

    branagh directed this??? woo. i’m pretty much bound to love it. but i’m not all about rene russo, and agree with you that portman, while brilliant, is over-used in this capacity.
    i’m excited to see! :) khairete
    suz

  • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

    I liked it. I think the the thing for Pagans to remember is that this movie is based on a comic book (that is very loosely inspired by mythology). Anyone who goes to see it expecting a close adaptation of the myths will likely be disappointed.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

    I liked it. I think the the thing for Pagans to remember is that this movie is based on a comic book (that is very loosely inspired by mythology). Anyone who goes to see it expecting a close adaptation of the myths will likely be disappointed.

  • Limnaia

    I was incredibly surprised by this film. I wasn’t expecting to like it – despite being someone who honours Odin and Loki, the main objections I had to the movie were from a storytelling point of view, rather than a pagan one. (I felt the change in Thor’s character happened too quickly and seemingly for next to no reason, for example.) Being somewhat familiar with the comics, I was expecting a number of the changes to the lore and so on, so that bothered me less. What I was most apprehensive about was the way they portrayed Loki… which I’m not a hundred percent happy with, but the way the character was played was excellent and there were little flashes of character that were just perfect.

    I agree with you about Frigga and Sif, too. And you’re right, Idris Elba was incredible as Heimdall. I never really got Heimdall before, and while I’m well aware that the portrayal in the film won’t be accurate, it’s given me a new appreciation for the God. I’m very glad I saw it in 2D, though.

  • Limnaia

    I was incredibly surprised by this film. I wasn’t expecting to like it – despite being someone who honours Odin and Loki, the main objections I had to the movie were from a storytelling point of view, rather than a pagan one. (I felt the change in Thor’s character happened too quickly and seemingly for next to no reason, for example.) Being somewhat familiar with the comics, I was expecting a number of the changes to the lore and so on, so that bothered me less. What I was most apprehensive about was the way they portrayed Loki… which I’m not a hundred percent happy with, but the way the character was played was excellent and there were little flashes of character that were just perfect.

    I agree with you about Frigga and Sif, too. And you’re right, Idris Elba was incredible as Heimdall. I never really got Heimdall before, and while I’m well aware that the portrayal in the film won’t be accurate, it’s given me a new appreciation for the God. I’m very glad I saw it in 2D, though.

  • http://twitter.com/watcher457 Angela

    I should start with saying that I’m not a follower of the Norse Gods, but I am familiar with them. I am also not familiar with the comics. However, I loved the movie, have seen it twice, and can appreciate the beauty of it as an action film and a comic book film. There was a power to Thor and Heimdall that was palpable to me, but my eyes were riveted to Loki the entire film. He is perhaps not the best representation of the God, but he was a lot better than I honestly expected. I felt he had reasons for the things he did, good reasons instead of just liking to be clever and chaotic. I like the range of emotions that he went through. Perhaps it was sheer talent on Tom Hiddleston’s behalf, but I found Loki attractive, complex, charismatic, and engaging and I found it to be a far more sympathetic representation than I would have expected of Hollywood.

    Except the helmet. I understand it’s the comic, but it was ridiculous.

  • http://twitter.com/watcher457 Angela

    I should start with saying that I’m not a follower of the Norse Gods, but I am familiar with them. I am also not familiar with the comics. However, I loved the movie, have seen it twice, and can appreciate the beauty of it as an action film and a comic book film. There was a power to Thor and Heimdall that was palpable to me, but my eyes were riveted to Loki the entire film. He is perhaps not the best representation of the God, but he was a lot better than I honestly expected. I felt he had reasons for the things he did, good reasons instead of just liking to be clever and chaotic. I like the range of emotions that he went through. Perhaps it was sheer talent on Tom Hiddleston’s behalf, but I found Loki attractive, complex, charismatic, and engaging and I found it to be a far more sympathetic representation than I would have expected of Hollywood.

    Except the helmet. I understand it’s the comic, but it was ridiculous.

  • grkpagan

    Stupid movie..too comic book and not enough lore. Im tired of Hollywood trying to appeal to the masses by casting politically correct actors instead of following true pagan mythology and how its represented. Black gate keepers? Brunette goddesses and love interests? In Norway? Where are the Valkyries? I know paying homage to aryan people and blondes in particular is too far off base these days for Hollywood and the U.S., but picking characters from every minority to portray Norse paganism is plain stupid! Yeah I said it!

  • grkpagan

    Stupid movie..too comic book and not enough lore. Im tired of Hollywood trying to appeal to the masses by casting politically correct actors instead of following true pagan mythology and how its represented. Black gate keepers? Brunette goddesses and love interests? In Norway? Where are the Valkyries? I know paying homage to aryan people and blondes in particular is too far off base these days for Hollywood and the U.S., but picking characters from every minority to portray Norse paganism is plain stupid! Yeah I said it!


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