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Darren says

This is a natural fit - Shakespearean great Kenneth Branaugh, coupled with a fantastic, mythical realm, it makes perfect sense to give a solid launchpad for Thor and his relationship to our world. Hiddleston begins his reign as a pitch perfect Loki.

Tym says

Strong, and gets stronger to me with repeat viewings. Another 15 minutes wouldn't have hurt.

Ciaran says

Hemsworth and Hiddleston carry a difficult mythos and knock it out of the park.

There couldn't have been a more perfect director for this film than Kenneth Branagh.

Branagh was the perfect synthesis of fan and pro. He'd grown up on the comics, and had become an acclaimed actor and filmmaker. He'd made six Shakespeare films, and his operatic take on Frankenstein (1994) is the most faithful adaption ever made. If anyone knew how to bring an epic character story with gravity, scope, and classic mythos to the screen, it was he. Marvel chief editor Joe Quesada felt that his 3-hour pitch meeting had reeducated them on their own character.

Aside from all the grandiose stagecraft, this is a personal drama. It is actually a reverse origin story; rather than a person gaining a godlike power, it is a god losing that power to find their own humanity. Thor is a spoiled potential leader who becomes humbled into an empathy that leads toward true wisdom. His journey is the bridge from hubris to respect. Conversely, adopted-brother Loki is too torn by personal pain to reach a higher awareness, and corrodes everything he encounters. They are our daily and eternal spiritual struggle personified.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby raised the game to a higher level with Thor comics. After the more earthbound Iron Man and the FF and Hulk, Asgard provided a loftier realm in which they magnifed spectacle and power and ancient themes that expanded their mythos and the medium. Sometimes a bassist is described as a frustrated guitar player. Lee reads like a frustrated Shakespearian who bent comics to his literary dreams; from Dr. Doom to Thor to the Silver Surfer, his stentorian decrees and troubled soliloquies gave Marvel its literal character and the genre more academic credit. Kirby became more ambitious here, pouring out double-spreads of gossamer cities and boneshaking behemoths and warped Cubist tech like none ever seen. It's his gleaming spires and titan statues and The Destroyer and brutal bombast that panoply the film. Together, they brought the street to the heavens and vice versa. If you find smarts and heart at the core of a Marvel film or comic, it's because of Stan and Jack.

Writer/Artist Walt Simonson resuscitated Thor in the mid-80's with a legendary run, much of which is reflected in the film, such as the "A Cask of Ancient Winters" storyline. He was one of the few who could match the vast Kirby scope and intense Lee dramaturgy, and he exceeded the mandate beautifully. (Walt and Louise Simonson even cameo in the dining hall scene at the end of the film.)

Branagh brought the best virtues with the perfect ensemble cast, and lifted the Marvel Studios game higher.