Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hero of the Week 2010 #20: Thor

THOR (Marvel)
Real Name: Thor, "Odinson" (aka; Dr. Donald Blake)
First Appearance: Journey into Mystery #83 (August, 1962)
Group Affiliation: Avengers, Asgard
Gaming Credentials: Marvel vs Capcom (1998); Marvel Ultimate Alliance (2006); Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009); Marvel Super Hero Squad (2009); Marvel vs Capcom 3 (TBA/2011); Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (TBR/2010); Thor (TBA/2011); The First Avenger: Captain America (TBA/2011)
Infinite Wars Ranking: #28

If you accept the theory that superheroes are part of modern mythology, then it stands to reason you might mix some of the classics in with your newbies. When it comes to Marvels "mightiest heroes", The Avengers, that's exactly the philosophy employed! For five decades Thor has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Iron Man and Captain America as the very best of the best -- the iconic big three Avengers ever since they discovered the Captain frozen in the sea and thawed him out!

Despite the seemingly unbreakable bond these franchise players have formed, the modern era hasn't been especially accepting of Norse Gods within the ranks of a premiere superhero team. Working against Thor is a conspiracy of factors including the inherent fantasy-genre tropes of the purest Thor source material, which don't gel as naturally with the average contemporary superhero story, and the widespread misconception that superheroes who aren't boring brown haired boys, or alcoholics, are too "unrelatable" to be interesting. As you can see from the above list, it certainly didn't do him any favours when video games were out scouting!

Those who've remained in the dark of cinemas long enough to see Iron Man 2's post-credits teaser -- and the crater inhabiting Mjolnir (Thor's hammer) featured within -- might already be beginning to change their thinking. Fans of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games will have a similar perspective for the way the familiar aspects of a covert intelligence agency (SHIELD) can bridge the gap between the mysticism and fantasy of Thor, and the established contemporary precedent for the Marvel movie universe, which came with the high-tech plausibility of Iron Man.

Indeed, it was the Iron Man films that first tackled this obstacle of men versus magic, when Jon Favreau and his team opted to drop the title characters most iconic nemesis, The Mandarin, from the final script. What fans found instead was a playful reference to the master villain and his objects of power, alluded to in the naming of the film's terrorist antagonists, The Ten Rings.

In May of next year, audiences will get their first taste of the fantasy to come, when Thor the movie hits cinemas. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, it features relative unknown Chris Hemsworth in the lead role, an actor Australians will recognise from his five nights a week role in primetime soap, Home and Away. It'll be a long way from the beach-bound dramas of his fresh faced role, with early snaps promising a mature, bearded Hemsworth who looks as much the part as mere mortals can.

Sir Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman will lend their marquee reputations to the film, while seasoned thespia, Tom HIddleston, inhabits the role of Thor's mischief making nemesis and half-brother, Loki. The film promises to bridge the gap of Asgard and the Norse Gods with characteristic interest in "Midgard" -- the world of humanity, which Thor has classically inhabited as both the mighty Avenger, and in his human alter-ego, Dr. Donald Blake.

When Iron Man and Thor converge with yet another Marvel movie license hitting screens in 2011, The First Avenger: Captain America, the stage will be set for one of the most ambitious undertakings in any of the library of superhero films that have hit screens since 2000! Avengers, if nothing else, will fulfill the imaginative wishes of comic book fanboys worldwide, who've envisioned this type of team-up for as long as there have been superheroes on film. It is arguably the ultimate legacy of the movies that started it all, namely X-Men (2000), which was the first real attempt to create a superhero team on the big screen.

Thor brings the pain verily in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, with the smiting assist from Deadpool!

Over in the comics, Thor's integration into the Avengers has been as natural as you would expect.
Thor broke from the group when Asgard entered Ragnarok during 2004's Avengers Disassembled, while Iron Man and Captain America became bitter philosophical enemies in Civil War. They were brought together just recently in Marvel's mediocre four-issue event, Siege, which gave us the new marquee approach of the Heroic Age, which features a world reshaped by Captain America, who has accepted the role of the world's "top cop" -- previously inhabited by Iron Man during Civil War, and Norman Osborn in the just concluded Dark Reign.

You'll find Thor tossing his hammer indescriminately at time travelling fiends, alongside Iron Man, Spider-man, Wolverine, and some of Marvel's other premiere heroes, in the pages of the recently relaunched Avengers. Issue #1 should still be on shelves! For more information on Avengers and the Heroic Age, check out! Thor will also join the recent of the super-deformed Marvel Universe when they go online in the recently announced MMO, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online. It remains to be seen if this renewed presence will extend to Marvel vs Capcom 3, upgrading the hero from support character to playable hammer tosser, and if Sega's initial claim to the Thor film license will eventuate in a solo game in 2011 after their recent cutbacks.

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