IMDb; Marvel.com; MCU Wiki; Paramount; Rotten Tomatoes; Templeton Gate; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Disney+; FandangoNOW; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu
So, this is the fourth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise that's all leading up to "The Avengers" in 2012. This movie came out in 2011, but I didn't see it until April of 2012, about a week before The Avengers comes out... which I'm sure I won't get to see until it's on DVD. But anyway, I decided to watch this on a Thursday, because it is, after all... Thor's day. Anyway, my knowledge of Thor is perhaps a bit limited. I haven't read much of him in the comics, but I vaguely recall the character from an old cartoon called The Marvel Super Heroes, and more recent things like Ultimate Avengers and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. So, some of the stuff in the movie is a bit familiar to me, and some isn't. Of course, I don't imagine it's exactly like any previous adaptation. Um... it begins with these three people researching a strange weather phenomenon. One of them, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is more or less... well, I dunno, the one whose idea the current research is. It's kind of odd, because while my knowledge of the character from other stuff is extremely limited, when I've seen her before she's been in the medical profession, rather than being a physicist as she is here. Anyway, her team includes her mentor, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), and her assistant, Darcy (Kat Dennings). A very strange storm suddenly shows up, and then a man appears from out of nowhere.
Then we get some backstory, about stuff that happened in A.D. 965. There are these other worlds, or "realms," and Earth is one realm, on which a war was fought between the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and the Asgardians of... Asgard. The Asgardians, led by Odin (Anthony Hopkins), defeated the Frost Giants, who were led by Laufey. And they took a casket which was the source of the Frost Giants' power, back to Asgard. Flash forward, and Odin has two young sons, Thor and Loki. Thor is very eager to become king, but he's reckless, and has a warrior's spirit rather than the wisdom required of a king. Flash forward again, and the brothers are now grown, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is about to be named king... but there's a disturbance when somehow a few Frost Giants show up in Asgard to reclaim the casket. So, the ceremony is postponed, even though the Frost Giants are defeated by a giant robot guard thing, called the Destroyer. Thor wants to go to Jotunheim to retaliate, but Odin forbids it. Nevertheless, Thor convinces Loki (Tom Hiddleston), along with their friends and fellow warriors, Sif (Jaimie Alexander, from Kyle XY), Volstagg, Fandral (Josh Dallas, from Once Upon a Time), and Hogun, to go to Jotunheim, against Odin's orders. The portal between the nine realms is called the Bifrost, which is guarded by a gatekeeper named Heimdall (Idris Elba), who basically looks the other way. Thor and the others get into a big fight on Jotunheim, causing a potential war, though Odin shows up to bring them home. Then he strips Thor of his power, and banishes him to Earth. Which brings us back to where the movie started.
Jane, Selvig, and Darcy find Thor, who has fallen to Earth in New Mexico. They have no idea who he is, but the way he talks... sounds crazy. Selvig in particular doesn't believe any of this, because he's familiar with Norse mythology, and naturally can't accept that it's real. But Thor does turn out to basically be a good guy. Meanwhile, his hammer, Mjolnir, has also fallen to Earth, after Odin enchants it so that it can only be wielded by one who is worthy. A local guy finds it, and soon lots of others come, trying to lift the hammer, but no one can. So it's a whole kind of "Sword in the Stone" type deal. SHIELD also hears about this, and Agent Coulson (previously seen in the Iron Man movies) shows up. It's not long before the organization has taken over the site, and built a whole complex around the immovable hammer. But when Thor hears about it, he breaks into the complex, and tries to lift Mjolnir... but fails.
Meanwhile, Thor's friends back on Asgard begin to suspect Loki of manipulating events. And then, Odin falls into the "Odinsleep" (which the movie doesn't really explain, but it's familiar to me from other stuff). So, Loki assumes the throne. And we learn that he did manipulate events, which didn't surprise me at all, being familiar with the character from... other stuff. But there were some things that did surprise me about him, and I'm not going to spoil any of that. In fact, I don't really want to say any more about the plot, except that throughout the course of the movie, Thor learns to be a bit wiser than he used to be, and eventually becomes worthy to once again wield Mjolnir, so his powers return to him. And after saving the day in a situation I won't get into, he returns to Asgard, where there's some more drama involving his confrontation with Loki... which results in some problems, the nature of which I also don't want to divulge. And then... of course, after the end credits, there's a bonus scene, which involves Dr. Selvig meeting Nick Fury.
So... the movie's got a pretty decent cast, and I think it's cool that Kenneth Branagh directed it, because the story is kind of Shakespearean. Yep, definitely a decent story, with some good special effects and battle scenes, some science thrown in (the term "Einstein-Rosen Bridge" is used a lot), some humor, a tolerable (if not particularly believable) potential romance between Thor and Jane, and of course it was cool to have Anthony Hopkins playing Odin. And I guess that's all I can think to say.