Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I went to go see Thor on opening night. As both a comic book geek and a pagan, I had to go see one of the few pagan superhero movies out there on opening night and show the love. After the first Iron Man, Thor is probably my favorite of the Marvel movies- and that's only because I've always liked Iron Man more as a character and I'm a sucker for powered armor.
Anyway, it's worth seeing and makes me wish I owned a 52 " plasma TV and Blu Ray player. Anyway, as a standalone superhero movie, it rocked hard. Even somebody who'd never seen the comics, and knows nothing about the myths which inspired it, could enjoy the film. Honestly, it reminded me alot of the Dolph Lungren He-Man film, which to me is a very, very good thing. You've got a handsome, powerful heroic god from an alternate dimension filled with Kirby-tech come to Earth and forced to befriend the locals.
Most of the movie's humor comes from Thor bumbling through early interactions with the film's three humans: Jane Foster, Erik and Darcy. And as much as I love Natalie Portman (one of my top three celebrity sex fantasies, joining Nicole Kidman and Courtney Love) the actress who played Darcy really stole the show. Every scene she was in was awesome, and in addition to sucessfully tasering Thor, she got some great lines.
Visually, the film cleared up a problem alot of the earlier Marvel movies had (especially the FF movies): Thor brought me the Kirby. The movies version of Asgard was incredible, and the design of the buildings, the costumes, and the incredible Rainbow Bridge was pure Kirby. The Destroyer is one of the most beautiful, comics accurate creatures I've ever seen on film. That thing was fricking gorgeous. The ice dragon that Thor killed in Jotenhiem was equally incredible, and certainly wouldn't look out of place on Kirby's Monster Island. The one gripe I had visually was the Frost Giants: they looked more like the Na'Vi from Avatar than the icy elemental beasts of the comic. Still, being able to summon ice weapons was a pretty cool ability, and something I'll definitely steal for Pathfinder.
One thing that comic fans go to these movies to see are Easter Eggs. Thor had plenty- I saw the Eye of Ammagetto and the Infinity Guantlet in Odin's artifact vault, but I was more pleased at the mythological cameos. There were a few elements from the original myths that got snuck in, elements not present in the comic book version of Thor and Asgard. When Thor overturned the banquet table, I got a glimpse of the golden apples of immortality, which I don't think have ever appeared in the comics. Likewise, on our first glimpse of Odin's throne room, we see two ravens perched on either side of the throne, and we get a glimpse of Odin's 8-legged gallows horse Slepinyr (not sure how you spell it, honestly). I can't remember either the Ravens nor the Horse appearing in the comics, so it was gratifying to see them.
This article really blew me away, especially its description of the fundamental loneliness of being pagan in Christian America. However, unlike Eric Scott, I don't believe the commercialized, comic book Thor is necessarily a bad thing. The bold, primarily colored and unfailingly noble and heroic Thor is a great take on the ancient god, and I can see the movie awakening an interest in Norse mythology in alot of kids who go to see it. And hopefully, for some, that interest will turn into a love of Asatru. Like Star Foster, who rebukes Erik's point, I believe that a heroic and positive description of pagan myth, even a very surface level reading of the myth, like the other work Star Foster cited, Charmed, can show Christian America and its citizens something transdescent.
For me, my introduction to Wicca came from fiction. When I was 14, my mom bought me a copy of Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She knew nothing about it, except it was about Aurthurian myth and it was like 3 inches thick- long enough to satisfy her voracious reader of a son through a few days of summer vacation. At that point, I'd already figured out I sure as hell wasn't a Christian of any kind, and I had no interest in being Jewish, Muslim or anything else. I'd heard of Wicca, but had no clear idea what it was, what it stood for, or anything else. All I'd seen was the idiocy on Geraldo or Donahue during the morning talk show hour. (Remember, this was the early 1990s, and mainstream exposure to the faith was all but non existent).
So I read this book, and I saw the same contrast in Mists that I did in Thor (though I may of been looking specifically for it). You've got the drab, sexless, ugly and oppressive Christian world contrasted with the free, sexually open, beautiful and colorful pagan world. I wanted to live as free as the pagans in Mist, and when I found out that the book was based on a modern, real-world religion, I wanted to know more. So I got some (non-fiction) books on Wicca, and put on the pentacle. I'm hoping the same thing happens- I want to see some kids who lay down the foam Mjolinr from Wal-Mart and put a Mjolinr charm around their neck.
Anyway, Blessed Be,