Thor is a 2011 American superhero film based on the comic book character of the same name published by Marvel Comics. It is the fourth film released as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgård. The film tells the story of Thor, a god who is exiled from his homeland of Asgard to Earth. While there, he builds a relationship with scientist Jane Foster. However, Thor must stop his brother Loki, who intends to become the new king of Asgard.
Director Sam Raimi first developed the concept of a film adaptation of Thor in 2001, but soon abandoned the project, leaving it in “development hell” for several years. During this time, the rights were picked up by various film studios until Marvel Studios signed Mark Protosevich to develop the project in 2006, and the rights were picked up by Paramount Pictures. Matthew Vaughn was originally assigned to direct the film for a tentative 2010 release. However, after Vaughn was released from his holding deal in 2008, Branagh was approached and the film’s release was rescheduled into 2011. The main characters were cast in 2009, and principal photography took place in California and New Mexico from January to May 2010. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.
In 965 AD, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, wages war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey (Colm Feore), to prevent them from conquering the nine realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.
In the present, Odin’s son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, but is interrupted when Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin’s order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey, accompanied by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), childhood friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three: Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor’s arrogance, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him to Earth as a mortal, accompanied by his hammer Mjolnir (the source of his power) now protected by an enchantment to allow only the worthy to wield it.
Thor lands in New Mexico, where astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), find him. The local populace finds Mjolnir, which S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) soon commandeers before forcibly acquiring Jane’s data about the wormhole that delivered Thor to Earth. Thor, having discovered Mjolnir’s nearby location, seeks to retrieve it from the facility that S.H.I.E.L.D. quickly constructed but he finds himself unable to lift it, and is captured. With Selvig’s help, he is freed and resigns himself to exile on Earth as he develops a romance with Jane.
Loki discovers he is Laufey’s son, adopted by Odin after the war ended. Odin, overcome with stress from Loki’s discovery and Thor’s exile, falls into the deep “Odinsleep” that allows him to recuperate. Loki becomes king and offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket. Sif and the Warriors Three, unhappy with Loki’s rule, attempt to return Thor from exile, convincing Heimdall (Idris Elba), gatekeeper of the Bifröst – the means of traveling between worlds – to allow them passage to Earth. Aware of their plan, Loki sends the Destroyer, a seemingly indestructible automaton, to pursue them and kill Thor. The warriors find Thor, but the Destroyer attacks and defeats them, prompting Thor to offer himself instead. Struck by the Destroyer and near death, Thor’s sacrifice proves him worthy to wield Mjolnir. The hammer returns to him, restoring his powers and enabling him to defeat the Destroyer. Kissing Jane goodbye and vowing to return, he and his fellow Asgardians return to confront Loki.
In Asgard, Loki betrays and kills Laufey, revealing his true plan to use Laufey’s attempt on Odin’s life as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim with the Bifröst Bridge, thus proving himself worthy to his father. Thor arrives and fights Loki before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki’s plan, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin awakens and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss created in the wake of the bridge’s destruction, but Loki allows himself to fall. Thor makes amends with Odin, admitting he is not ready to be king; while on Earth, Jane and her team search for a way to open a portal to Asgard.
In a post-credits scene, Selvig has been taken to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) opens a briefcase and asks him to study a mysterious object, which Fury says may hold untold power. An invisible Loki prompts Selvig to agree, which Selvig does.
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