Trilogy Thursday: Avengers Initiative Phase 1B
Hi everyone, Max from Impassionedcinema and Terrence from TheFocusedFilmographer are here to talk about a new trilogy for this week’s installment of Trilogy Thursday. This time we’re taking the second three films in the Avengers Initiative (Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers) and analyzing them.
Looking for the first three films in the Avengers Initiative (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2)? Check out the previous Trilogy Thursday HERE.
Max: After three successful movies under the Marvel label, Marvel had another significant movie to make good on. Director Kenneth Branagh had to work with mostly unknown talent in order to bring the mythology of Thor to the big screen. Luckily the casting here was fantastic (for the most part).
This would really be the world’s first introduction to Chris Hemsworth. His star power is so bright it’s blinding. Thor was only the beginning of his bright career and he completely owns the part. From the war first, talk later attitude to his total ineptitude on Earth, Thor is completely true to the character.
Of course the other star of the movie was Tom Hiddleston. There were whispers of him initially taking the part of Thor for himself and Chris Hemsworth would take Loki. Loki is definitely the more layered role. He uses his intelligence and is able to manipulate anyone. Hiddleston’s Loki was a joy to watch.
I haven’t talked much about the story. It’s actually really tight. Thor gets banished to Earth and he must learn an important lesson in order to reclaim his status in his father’s eyes. If there is a problem it’s the casting of Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. Portman seems like a total miscast, not really playing well off of the portrayal from Hemsworth. She really feels like a tacked on love interest. Anthony Hopkins isn’t necessarily bad, he’s just under used and when he’s on screen his character comes across as stoic. If he appears in a sequel hopefully his character will be a little more interesting.
Overall, Marvel continued to deliver quality superhero movies. Thor is one of the best out of the first six Marvel movies and wins thanks to its main characters and accurate take on the Thor universe.
T: After Marvel gave us Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2, the journey to the assembly of The Avengers continued with great promise and prestige. A god made his way to the silver screen in May of 2011. Thor, directed by accomplished actor/director Kenneth Branagh, starred Chris Hemsworth is his most well-known role as the titular hero. Marvel, once again, garnished a great success in bringing a known (albeit not as popular) character into the limelight of popularity. (You could walk into any local Wal-mart at that time and see kids of all ages running around wearing Thor helmets and brandishing toy hammers in their hands calling down lightning upon any who stood in their way!)
One of the greatest things about Thor is the storytelling itself. I completely understand as to why Marvel would choose to use Branagh as the mastermind behind the cinematic direction of the lore of Thor. Branagh’s expertise, capability, and love for telling epic stories about family, comedy, and drama, and staying true to form of the original material definitely shines through in this film (see his impressive director filmography HERE). Marvel’s introduction of Thor not only made Thor a common household name, but also created a new batch of character fans worldwide (like the Wal-mart kids I mentioned earlier). Thor’s struggles with family, self-realization, inner strength, difficult decisions, and other enemies within and without are surprisingly a lot more relatable than one might imagine, being that he is a god after all!
One of the better superhero origin movies of all, Thor truly is, in the words of Branagh, an origin story of both Thor…and Loki. Hemsworth showcases the power and character of Thor in a manner that proves to be fun and awe-inspiring! Hiddleston, as Loki, is definitely one of the best villains so far in a comicbook film (I mean, come on -they brought him back for The Avengers!). Loki serves as almost an exact opposite of everything that Thor is, causing the dynamic between the two to keep the attention of movie watchers. It’s almost, dare I say, Batman vs. The Joker in that sense.
While some may question the inclusion of certain characters and cast (namely Skarsgård, Portman, and a few others), each of them serve a purpose in the overall tale. It is in Thor that we are “introduced” to Hawkeye and the tesseract which both play much bigger roles in The Avengers.
A vital part of the “Avengers” story, Thor is one of the best in the 6-part initiative. So much from this film is carried into The Avengers and it is a great piece of the puzzle.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Max: Out of all the Avengers films’, this is the one I was least interested in when released. Captain America was a product of his time period and was probably the least interesting superhero. Matched up against anyone else, including Iron Man, he would never stand a chance. There’s also the fact that the storyline shares many similarities to The Incredible Hulk, at least in the beginning.
I was angry when Chris Evans was cast as Captain America. He has already had a part in another Marvel franchise (Fantastic Four) and I doubted his ability to convey the Captain correctly. Thankfully, most of those fears subsided with his performance. Chris Evans made a believer out of me after this entry.
Unfortunately where other movies in the Avengers franchise had decent stories, this one doesn’t work as well. There’s too much of a serial comic book feeling, what with a weapon that can destroy anything. Even the villain (Red Skull played by Hugo Weaving) left a lot to be desired. I would put this near the bottom of the Avengers films, but its not terrible. It’s just not the strong origin story we’ve come to expect from Marvel films.
T: This one was a little tricky from the beginning. Why? Because we all knew that Cap would have to somehow make it to 70 years in the future, but “how” would Marvel do it? From the very beginning, the film captivates as we are drawn into a time that we rarely get to see a superhero in! Giving a great time piece portrayal, Marvel very cleverly and appropriately tells the origin story of Steve Rogers as Captain America in this most recent installment of a well-put-together puzzle masterpiece of movies.
Portrayal of the time period, the characters, and the cast are all great strengths of this film. The cast in this film is superb. Their introduction, flawless. Even if you know nothing of Captain America’s story prior to seeing the film, you will not be lost as the characters all play a part in telling the story! Evans’s performance remains completely natural and believable as Captain America/Steve Rogers. Hugo Weaving as the villain does not disappoint, although the more you see him as the Red Skull, the less you may remember that it is Weaving.
The way in which Marvel tied this film in together with the likes of Iron Man (Howard Stark’s appearance), Thor (the tesseract), and The Avengers (Samuel L. Jackson) definitely helps keep the tease of The Avengers at the forefront of the minds of those watching and waiting. Although it is a little slow at times, the story of the First Avenger is one that excites and dives into the character allowing for a better understanding of him once we get to The Avengers.
Of course, getting to the end of this film is one of the best parts as we see a clip/tease that serves as the introduction that leads directly into the events of The Avengers.