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Film Talk: Looking Back – Biceps, bling and the Bifröst with Thor

"This drink... I like it! ANOTHER!" Ah, if this one had only given us this line, that would be enough...

Brotherly love - Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth starred in 2011's Thor
Brotherly love - Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth starred in 2011's Thor

Directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, 2011's Thor represented Chris Hemsworth's inaugural appearance as Marvel's God of Thunder, and the arrival of his bulging biceps as two of cinema's greatest stars for the next decade.

Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures, Thor stands as the fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and remains one of its most enjoyable entries to date.

Written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, the flick packed in a mighty supporting cast alongside Hemsworth, including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, and, of course, the superb Tom Hiddleston.

Filmmaker Sam Raimi had in fact first developed the concept of a movie adaptation of Thor in 1991. However, he quickly abandoned the project, leaving it to fester in 'development hell' for a number of years.

During this period, the rights were picked up by a number of studios until Marvel signed Mark Protosevich to develop the project in 2006.

Matthew Vaughn was assigned to direct, though was released from his holding deal in 2008. Following this, Sir Kenneth was approached and the film's release was scheduled for 2011.

Following the success particularly of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, pressure was on for the Crown Prince of Asgard to prove he could front his own flick and take the MCU to god-like heights. But would Marvel's dynamic deity make a successful transition from page to screen that audiences would get behind? The studio held its fingers firmly crossed...

After disturbing a fragile truce with an old enemy of his people, the mighty Thor (Hemsworth) – Prince of Asgard and God of Thunder – is stripped of his power and cast out of the Realm Eternal by his father, Odin (Hopkins).

Landing on Earth, and with his mighty hammer Mjölnir lost, Thor is forced to search for a way to reclaim his powers and prove himself worthy once again. Meanwhile however, Thor's scheming sibling Loki (Hiddleston) has seized the Asgardian throne and is determined to keep it.

With the aid of human scientists Jane Foster (Portman) and Erik Selvig, will Thor be able to learn what it truly means to be a hero, and be able to save his home from his brother's devious plot in time?..

A financial success, Thor earned $449.3 million worldwide, with critics praising its themes, performances and special effects, though with some criticising its plot.

Such judgment could easily be seen as fair – the plot wasn't the strongest that the MCU had, or has since, produced. Yet it was straightforward enough, allowing plenty of space for the flick's excellent characterisation to shine, and provided a narrative train that made for an uncomplicated yet highly enjoyable adventure film.

With Hemsworth's Thor becoming instantly beloved, the presence of the character in the future of the MCU was sealed. As well as having appeared in all of the Avengers films, Thor has since starred in two of his own direct sequels (2013's Thor: The Dark World, and 2017's Thor: Ragnarok) with a third – Thor: Love and Thunder – set to follow this year.

The flick that birthed the pairing of Hemsworth and Hiddleston, and in doing so gave rise to the greatest on-screen chemistry the MCU has seen thus far, Thor will always have a place in the heart of fans as one of Marvel Studios' most significant ever productions.

A fine directorial effort by Branagh, it was this one that ensured the Marvel Cinematic Universe had legs beyond Tony Stark, and could become a 'universe' after all.

Was the character worthy of solo silver-screen spotlight? Absolutely – and he's been a fan-favourite ever since he first needed that horse... or a dog that was big enough to ride.

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