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The Mighty Thor

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Jeez. I've already sat through so many superhero films this year that my butt's getting mighty thor.

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But what is the proper Christian response to Norse mythology?.... After all, this is Arts & Faith, Heh heh,

-s.

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But what is the proper Christian response to Norse mythology?.... After all, this is Arts & Faith, Heh heh,

-s.

Haha. This is great. When I was in twelfth grade and my career ambition-- seriously-- was to write comic books for Marvel, THOR was one of the ones I was really interested in, and I remember approaching my church youth group leader to initiate an earnest, soul-searching discussion about whether I would be serving the forces of evil by spinning the stories of Asgard for my vocation. His response was perfect. Without making me feel like a fool, he pointed out the unlikeliness of anyone being converted to a life of polytheistic ruin by the stories of THOR, and told me about how much he had enjoyed DAREDEVIL comics while a teen.

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You are lucky. My Youth Pastor asked me why a "Christian" band like the 77s had a line like "unstress while we undress" in one of their songs (Ba, Ba, Ba). HEck if I knew. Heck if I still don't know, and I toured with the guy.

-s.

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Marvel's machine in gear

"Thor" will be released about six weeks after "Iron Man 2," and Marvel is waiting for a script polish from scribe Mark Protosevich ("I Am Legend"). Matthew Vaughn no longer is attached to direct the project because his holding deal expired December.

"It's very much a Marvel superhero story but against the backdrop of nothing you've seen before," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in describing "Thor" as a period fantasy in the vein of "The Lord of the Rings." . . .

Hollywood Reporter, May 5

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Branagh in talks to direct 'Thor'

Kenneth Branagh is negotiating to direct "Thor," the next Marvel Comics property that will be turned into a live-action film by Marvel Studios. Pic will be released in 2010. . . .

"Thor" comicbook adaptation, penned by Mark Protosevich, follows disabled medical student Donald Blake, who has an alter ego as the hammer-wielding Norse god Thor. . . .

Variety, September 28

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Well, he's the obvious choice, considering the lasting power and influence of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein...

I hope he casts himself in the lead.

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EXCLUSIVE: Chris Hemsworth Is 'Thor'

EXCLUSIVE: Talk about spot-on casting. I've just learned that Marvel's Kevin Feigy and director Kenneth Branagh have chosen their THOR -- and it's Chris Hemsworth, who can currently be seen as "George Kirk" in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot and also just snagged the lead in Red Dawn for MGM on Thursday. . . .

Nikki Finke, May 16

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According to The Hollywood Reporter...

Natalie Portman has been cast as the female lead in "Thor," Marvel Studios' adaptation of its comic book featuring the Norse god of thunder. Kenneth Branagh is directing.

Portman will play Jane Foster, who in early comic book lore was a nurse who became Thor's first love. The studio said the character will be updated for the feature adaptation, with Foster being a doctor-scientist type.

Full story here.

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According to The Hollywood Reporter...

Portman will play Jane Foster, who in early comic book lore was a nurse who became Thor's first love. The studio said the character will be updated for the feature adaptation, with Foster being a doctor-scientist type.

Full story here.

Glad they're updating that, because women don't become nurses anymore. Or if they do, it's shameful. I want to grab every nurse I see and ask her angrily, "why didn't you become a doctor-scientist type? Have you no motivation, no sense of decency?"

/sarcasm

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Two more cast in 'Thor'

Jaimie Alexander and Colm Feore are coming aboard the Marvel Studios adaptation of its comic book featuring the Norse god of thunder. Kenneth Branagh is directing.

Alexander and Feore join Chris Hemsworth, already cast as Thor; Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki, the god of mischief who serves as the movie's villain; and Natalie Portman is Thor's human love, Jane Foster.

In Marvel's epic fantasy, Alexander is playing Sif, a skilled Asgardian warrior who can hold her own against any man. She also is one of Thor's loves.

Feore's character is shrouded in mystery -- the studio isn't even sending the actors the script -- though it is known to be a villain.

Hollywood Reporter, September 22

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Anthony Hopkins to play Thor's father, Odin

The movie’s story sees the god of thunder Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions re-ignite an ancient war. As punishment, Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans. Once here, he learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends dark forces of Asgard to invade Earth.

Odin is Thor’s father and ruler of Asgard.

Hollywood Reporter, October 29

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Somebody needs to find a great role for Hopkins again. Preferably, something that isn't connected to a comic book or a gothic horror story. I've seen *that* Anthony Hopkins too many times. I miss the Hopkins of The Remains of the Day.

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Ethnic matters rear their head. Elisabeth Rappe @ Cinematical:

Asgard has just added another brilliant actor to their semi-immortal ranks. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Idris Elba has joined the cast of Thor as Heimdall, guardian of the Bifrost Bridge. He's the man you have to pass if you hope to start some stuff in Asgard, and as he's all-seeing and all-knowing, good luck trying to kick his butt.

Elba's casting is undoubtedly going to cause a bit of a stir, as the Heimdall of the Marvel comics is a redhaired Caucasian. In the original Nordic myths, he was even called "the whitest of the gods" which seems like a thousand tasteless jokes in the making. (For the record, "whitest" refers to the light he emanated, not his skin color.) I imagine a lot of people are going to make those jokes, complain about things being PC, and just be very unpleasant.

But you know what? The Asgardians are gods. They can be any color they want, and should be. Marvel's Thor is also distinctly different than the original Norse myths, and I think a diverse cast is a fantastic and appropriate idea. Plus, this is Idris Elba. He's the kind of badass you want on that Bifrost Bridge, guarding the city gates, and having throwdowns with Thor. (He's always trying to prevent everyone's favorite blonde from going in or out of Asgard.) Kudos to Kenneth Branagh for recognizing that, and for creating an Ultimate Heimdall in the course of pre-production.

A few quick thoughts:

I have no particular knowledge of Marvel Comics, outside of the few Spider-Man stories I read when I was a kid, so if having Norse gods who don't look remotely Norse is within their bailiwick, then I guess that's fair enough. But as a fan of classic mythology in general, I do prefer to stick to the myths as they are.

Admittedly, we tend to blur a certain set of ethnicities together under terms like "white" or "European", so nobody bats an eye when Brits like Laurence Olivier or Swiss like Ursula Andress play ancient Greco-Roman gods and goddesses (as those actors did in the original Clash of the Titans -- and heck, just the fact that we combine Greek and Roman mythologies like this shows how deep the blurring goes).

But, y'know, someone asked Ian McKellen recently why there were no black hobbits in the Shire, and I found the suggestion that there OUGHT to be almost as wrong-headed as Peter Jackson's idea that Gandalf had quit smoking and started eating toffees. (Fortunately, that bit was cut from the film; but according to McKellen, the scene where Gandalf blows smoke in the shape of a boat was meant to be the scene where he falls off the wagon and starts smoking again.) The Shire is supposed to represent a sort of old-fashioned rural English countryside; anything that departs from that just wouldn't feel true to Tolkien's vision.

On the other hand, since Branagh is directing Thor, I should also note that I had no problem whatsoever with his version of Much Ado about Nothing, in which Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves played brothers. Plays don't demand the same sort of realism that regular films do; with plays, we all know that what counts are the words and the performances, and with Shakespeare in particular, we all know that many actors have said these words before and many actors will say them again, so there's plenty of room to experiment, mix-and-match, and so forth.

In a similar vein, it didn't faze me at all when Jeffrey Wright was cast as Felix Leiter in the recent James Bond movies, because the character has been played by several different actors over the years (only one of whom, besides Wright, has ever played the character more than once), and the storylines take place in the early 21st century and do not take place in the mid-20th century any more, and the whole point of Leiter is that he's American, period. It doesn't matter what kind of American he is, he just needs to be there so that Bond can deal with his counterpart across the pond.

But Norse gods, it seems to me, are a little more... particular... than that.

If anyone finds these ponderings "unpleasant", well, sorry. But for the record, I would have been just as "unpleasant" it if, say, Lucius Fox (in the Batman movies) had been played by anyone other than Morgan Freeman. Or at least someone who looks kind of like him. :)

FWIW, on a semi-related note, I wrote an article on the role of ethnicity in casting life-of-Jesus films three years ago; you can read it here. One film that didn't get mentioned in that article is Jesus Christ Superstar, which, like Much Ado about Nothing, is basically an adaptation of a play and thus doesn't demand the same kind of "realism" that, say, The Nativity Story did.

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Eeeh -- it's Thor.

We're sliding down the Marvel chain into the "who cares" categories.

It ain't like casting a black Kingpin, that's for sure.

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Is that a US/Canada thing? I just clicked on it again, and it worked just like the first time. Anybody else having trouble?

Here's the relevant bit:

Rene Russo has joined the cast of "Thor," with the actress set to play Frigga, the mother of Marvel Entertainment's hammer-wielding Norse hero.

...

As the wife of Norse god Odin, to be played by Anthony Hopkins in the film, Frigga is the queen of Asgard. She's also the mother of Thor and Loki, the pic's primary villain, portrayed by Tom Hiddleston.

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FWIW, I just tried it again, and it works fine now. Curious.

I loved mythology when I was a kid, and I remember the delight I felt when I realized that the days of the week were named after specific gods, albeit from different pantheons: Thursday for "Thor's Day", Friday for "Frigg's Day", Saturday for "Saturn's Day", etc. But when I mentioned this to my dad, he told me "Frigg" was a curse-word. Sigh.

Yes, this is the same dad who, when I explained to him how the title of Daniel Amos's album Darn Floor Big Bite was based on something a gorilla had said in sign language and how the album was all about the inadequacy of communication to describe God and other things beyond our human comprehension, replied with dismay, "So we're teaching gorillas to swear now."

And yet he took me to see Octopussy when I was 12. Go figure.

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Townsend replaced in Marvel Comics tale `Thor'

LOS ANGELES - Stuart Townsend has departed Marvel Comics' movie adaptation of "Thor" because of creative differences, according to sources close to the production.

Townsend had been cast as Fandral, an ally of Norse god Thor. He was replaced by Joshua Dallas, according to the two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

The cast change came as production was about to begin. Shooting starts Monday on the movie directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Irish actor Townsend, 37, best known as the boyfriend of Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, starred in "Queen of the Damned." He had been cast as Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy but was replaced at the last minute by Viggo Mortensen. . . .

Associated Press, January 10

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