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‘Thor’ finally unleashes power to fans

By Stephanie Holland / Inscape Editor

( Paramount Pictures)

By Stephanie Holland / Inscape Editor

Though he has gone by many names: Donald Blake, God of Thunder, Eric Masterson, to die hard comic book fans there’s only one name that matters: Thor.

In the new Paramount/Marvel Studios film “Thor,” the hero’s origin story of how he came to Earth and became one of its greatest defenders is explored.

Thor, played by newcomer Chris Hemsworth, is the son of Odin, ruling god of Asgard, making him a god as well. After a falling out with his father, Thor is punished and sent to Earth. Once there he meets Jane Foster, portrayed by Natalie Portman, who takes him in despite his unbelievable story and the government agents chasing him.

“Thor” continues in the same universe established in the “Iron Man” films and features Clark Gregg in the familiar role of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Coulson and includes an extended cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

The movie also co-stars several big names as the Asgardian gods, including Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg and Rene Russo as Frigga.

Hemsworth went through an exhaustive casting process to get the role of Thor. The Australian actor is known in the U.S. primarily for playing Capt. Kirk’s father in the 2009 film “Star Trek.”

Being cast as the God of Thunder required him to gain a lot of muscle; however at one point Hemsworth got so big he couldn’t fit into his costume, so he had to pull back on his training.

“Thor” is directed by Kenneth Branagh, who is known for his work on classic Shakespeare adaptations like “Henry V,” “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” Though this is Branagh’s first time directing a superhero movie, at the 2010 San Diego International Comic-Con he claimed “Thor” had lots of similarities to Shakespeare.

It was Branagh who attracted Portman to the project, as she longed to work on an effects heavy film with strong character development.

Branagh also enlisted his “Wallander” co-star Tom Hiddleston to play Loki; Thor’s adopted brother and arch enemy. Hiddleston originally auditioned for Thor, but Branagh knew he would make a better Loki.

Of all the characters Marvel has brought to the screen, Thor is perhaps the most difficult to adapt. Its mythological origins and the look of the main character kept the film in pre-production for a while.

In the comics Thor falls to Earth unaware of his identity for ten years. He lives as average doctor Donald Blake until he discovers the powerful hammer of the gods Mjolnir, which then turns him back into Thor. He fights with a secret identity for years, joining the legendary Avengers, until Odin finally restores his full memory.

The origin story told in the film is a mix of the many versions told in the comic books through the years. Yet the one constant is the arc of how an arrogant warrior is transformed into one Earth’s greatest protectors.

“Thor” hits theaters on May 6 in standard 2-D and 3-D. It will be followed by “Captain America: The First Avenger” on July 22 and “The Avengers” in summer 2012.

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