Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Don Payne, Robert Rodat, Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Alan Taylor, 2013

Like I said last week, I think Iron Man is the best superhero movie I've ever seen, but the sequels fell far short of the standard it set.  The first Thor movie, by contrast, was nothing particularly special, but I had low expectations and came away mildly impressed by its combination of spectacle and smart sitcom-style comedy (not an insult — I've gotten a lot of great laughs out of sitcoms over the years).  Apparently that formula is more replicable, because this sequel doesn't represent a dropoff from the original.  Once again we have major spectacle — and while a lot of stuff does get wrecked, it's not just two hours of explosions.  You've got multiple mythological realms (with a bonkers fight that has the principals bouncing around among them), spaceships that look like something out of the sadly nonexistent Star Control II movie, an Asgardian funeral… even little things like the "bars" of the cells in the Asgardian dungeon were pretty awesome.  And once again the funny parts actually are pretty funny.  No points for theme — there's no real story other than "goodies stop baddies from destroying the universe" — and few for character.  Only Loki, who is given a few nudges from villain to antihero, gets any development, and those moments are pretty meh.  Everyone else stays the same from start to finish, including Thor himself, who, having been taken from obnoxious lunkhead to bland lunkhead in the first movie, remains in the latter mode throughout.  Which, again, is pretty true to the character in the comics, which in turn is a big part of why he's repeatedly lost his own book for the past 25 years or so.  Including at present — for the past couple of years the golden-tressed Marvel hero smacking bad guys around with an enchanted hammer has been Jane Foster.  So does that mean that the classic Marvel Thor can't be written in an interesting way?  Consider that when I first started collecting comics, Iron Man was James Rhodes — the switch made in part because he was more interesting than boring, outdated Tony Stark.  If the movies could fix Stark, it seems like fixing Thor shouldn't be so hard a lift.  At least, if the filmmakers be worthy…

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