A friend and I saw Thor last night…uhh…I really don’t know where to go from there, so I’ll let Roger Ebert’s review speak for me.
Thor is not a good movie. As a Thor movie, it’s all right. As a comic book movie it’s quite bad. As a movie it’s a massive disappointment. But Roger Ebert’s comments are so in line with my own, I thought I’d approach this differently and focus on Jane Foster.
Thor is a meathead, and this movie plays this aspect of his character up. Sure, his character growth takes place in a blink of an eye and with little to no reason, but that’s what the movie is. It’s a movie about and for “dudes” who don’t really want to think much but opt for beer and a good UFC fight (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Possibly dudes who listen to Neu Metal, I don’t know. And Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jane Foster goes in line with what meatheaded gentledudes are looking for. She’s wooden, infatuated with Thor the instant she runs him down, and offers little to no reason for us to believe that she’s a astrophysicist. An astrophysicist! Those people are smart! They use words like astrophysicist! I’m sure most of them don’t spend their days trying not to make ripples. She’s a scientist. Most scientists want nothing more than to understand and look at the world around them logically and with a clinical eye. Instead, this Jane Foster recognizes that there’s something weird going on in New Mexico, but that dude with the muscles is far more interesting than an Einstein Rosen Bridge. She’s also more interested in a cuddly puppy than turning the physics world on it’s head.
But here’s the question, was Jane Foster in the comics the same? Was she a foil, seemingly in the books for the sake of providing an uninspired love interest and pair of tits for the readers to look at? No. No, she wasn’t. Based on what I remember of the comics, Jane Foster (sure she was a nurse or doctor in the comics but that’s beside the point) was bright and full of purpose. She wasn’t used by Stan Lee simply to move the plot along. She was a character in the story. Interacting with other characters instead of brushing her wispy hair out of her face and smiling like a moron. In fact, in recent years, she’s done a lot to suggest that she’s much stronger than she was.
So, this leaves us wondering how to judge a movie based on a piece of fiction. Thor’s universe is entirely based on the comics. Characters are taken straight from the comic and plastered on the screen. But not Jane Foster. Kenneth Branagh turned Jane into the most vapid and pointless character in the movie. A foil to keep the plot going (poorly). Even Kat Dennings, whose character Darcy was so pointless she didn’t even need a last name, seemed more likable and purposeful than Jane. And it brings me again to the point of this rambling thing: was Jane Foster always vapid and pointless or turned into this for the movie? Was she so unimportant to Kenneth Branagh that he thought it best to have her sit in a child’s seat? Those questions are fine, but they don’t strike at the biggest problem in comics that have been presented on the screen: Are women in comics anything more than T&A? In the case of this movie, yes, but, oddly enough, not in the case of the books. What an odd little turnaround we’ve experienced, huh?