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Old 11-29-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
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Default Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

After reading/watching many reviews for Thor: The Dark World and CBM discussions in general, a question I have heard asked a lot is whether Thor is just too difficult/boring to do well as a main character in films/comics/etc. The argument goes that Thor is not relatable, as he is not human, and is an idealized boy scout or Mary Sue persona without any (interesting?) character flaws. Also, he is a superhero who is basically invulnerable to all injury, disease, and so powerful that there is not much that can challenge him. Lastly, many people also assert that Loki is the main/sole reason people go to see a Thor movie (or, in other words, a flawed character like Loki is much more able to attract an audience). Given all that, how can Thor be written in a dramatic way with interesting characterization?

My quick two cents: The current trend among story-telling is definitely towards "anti-heroes", in an attempt to avoid this supposed problem. Witness the plethora of shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter, etc, or even heroes such as Batman and Wolverine -- all of these are based on very flawed protagonists (although that trend has reached its zenith IMO, and the flaws are now so legion as to make all the new crop of these characters essentially unlikeable). Personally, I believe every character/personality is interesting in some manner, and the character of Thor is actually very rich with possibility, including archetypal family dynamics -- often described as Shakespearean (warring brothers, expectations to succeed Odin on the throne, marriage to a short-lived human or long-lived Asgardian, etc), maturing and overcoming a base arrogance/pride, lust for battle/emotional reactions vs becoming a peacemaker king and thoughtful ruler, etc. Those are all great conflicts to play out. Plus, so much of Thor is the rich tapestry of other characters that exist alongside him, and the incredible world that has been created around him. Just like many say that Thor and Loki are a yin and yang, and one can't exist without the other, so the same can be said for Thor and Odin, the nine realms, Hela, Surtur, Balder, the Warriors Three, Sif, Beta Ray Bill, etc. That's not a bad cast and world building from just establishing one god of thunder.

Please note: don't argue box office numbers or try to settle this with a popularity contest. This question is whether or not good/noble characters like Thor are too difficult to build a good story around. Personally, I believe it to be quite easy to do well (relatively speaking and given enough time and effort of course), but after hearing this complaint so much in regard to Thor recently I wanted to raise it for discussion.

What does everyone else think of this idea? Yea verily OR I say thee Nay?

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Old 11-29-2013, 09:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

I think Chris Hemsworth is doing fantastic job, and the good people here as opinionated and divisive as they are, would probably agree.

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Old 11-29-2013, 09:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

I think the Thor movies are good at their best if not at their worst merely passable adaptations of the source material. Even with the hurdles they are faced with. They have to

A. make a film about gods and magic that is grounded in the same vein as a universe that includes Iron Man.
B. make a film about a viking god of thunder with two foot diameter biceps portrayed by an human actor who has a reasonably shaped body.
C. Tell years of stories accurate to both decades of comics as well as centuries of norse mythology in the span of two two hour films.

And the primary Asgardian cast (Thor/Loki/Odin) are doing a phenomenal job with the dynamic you are speaking of. Those three are the reason I watch these films.

I think this question needn't be asked about Thor, but rather CapAm and Supes. Those blue boyscout type characters are the ones that people have trouble relating to. Not the noble but arrogant man with family issues struggling to balance his focus between all nine realms of his life.

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Old 11-30-2013, 12:22 AM   #4
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I think Thor is the most interesting character Marvel has to offer. Hemsworth definitely does an outstanding job of bringing him to life. Thor is the fantasy character that appeals. Also, I think Mjolnir brings an added amount of intrigue.

Iron Man is interesting because it's a character that could actually be a reality someday. That, and RDJ's charisma make him irresistible.

Those are by far the two leaders at this point. IMO.

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Old 11-30-2013, 08:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

Judging from the WW box office of TDW ,
I would say the answer to this question is No.

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Old 11-30-2013, 11:51 AM   #6
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

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Judging from the WW box office of TDW ,
I would say the answer to this question is No.
that doesn't mean anything whatsoever

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Old 11-30-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
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I wouldn't say he's difficult or that he can't be popular (since he is), but I think he has two major disadvantages of today's age.

1) Generally speaking, magic is seen as less interesting than science. The more advanced humanity becomes, the more this becomes the case. Another way of putting it is that the more we find out about how complex the science of our universe is, the more we get that "wow cool" magical factor from science that we used to get from magic in the past.

2) We live in the era where intellect is seen as a person's most prized possession. We no longer judge superheroes based on what powers they have, but mainly on the intellect they have. Currently the three most popular superheroes are Batman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man. All three are consistently portrayed as characters whose intelligence are their greatest weapon. Due to this, characters whose intelligence aren't as shown/downplayed are harder to sell and have it harder to produce box office money than other characters. In the case of the Avengers, Thor has the least intellect shown out of the Main 4 (Tony is a tech genius, Cap is a natural leader + tactical mastermind, Bruce Banner is a brilliant gamma-radiation scientist). Although this doesn't mean Thor can't be successful, his chances of his popularity reaching Batman/Spider-Man/Iron Man levels are very low, especially in comparison to the other Avengers.

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Old 11-30-2013, 08:51 PM   #8
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that doesn't mean anything whatsoever
If audiences didnt relate to Thor, I believe those numbers would be different.

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Old 11-30-2013, 09:04 PM   #9
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I wouldn't say he's difficult or that he can't be popular (since he is), but I think he has two major disadvantages of today's age.

1) Generally speaking, magic is seen as less interesting than science. The more advanced humanity becomes, the more this becomes the case. Another way of putting it is that the more we find out about how complex the science of our universe is, the more we get that "wow cool" magical factor from science that we used to get from magic in the past.

2) We live in the era where intellect is seen as a person's most prized possession. We no longer judge superheroes based on what powers they have, but mainly on the intellect they have. Currently the three most popular superheroes are Batman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man. All three are consistently portrayed as characters whose intelligence are their greatest weapon. Due to this, characters whose intelligence aren't as shown/downplayed are harder to sell and have it harder to produce box office money than other characters. In the case of the Avengers, Thor has the least intellect shown out of the Main 4 (Tony is a tech genius, Cap is a natural leader + tactical mastermind, Bruce Banner is a brilliant gamma-radiation scientist). Although this doesn't mean Thor can't be successful, his chances of his popularity reaching Batman/Spider-Man/Iron Man levels are very low, especially in comparison to the other Avengers.
Marvel doesn't clearly define Thors world as a magical one.
They try to have it both ways with the idea that the Asgardians are an advanced race that uses science that looks like magic .

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Old 11-30-2013, 09:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

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Originally Posted by Shikamaru View Post
I wouldn't say he's difficult or that he can't be popular (since he is), but I think he has two major disadvantages of today's age.

1) Generally speaking, magic is seen as less interesting than science. The more advanced humanity becomes, the more this becomes the case. Another way of putting it is that the more we find out about how complex the science of our universe is, the more we get that "wow cool" magical factor from science that we used to get from magic in the past.

2) We live in the era where intellect is seen as a person's most prized possession. We no longer judge superheroes based on what powers they have, but mainly on the intellect they have. Currently the three most popular superheroes are Batman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man. All three are consistently portrayed as characters whose intelligence are their greatest weapon. Due to this, characters whose intelligence aren't as shown/downplayed are harder to sell and have it harder to produce box office money than other characters. In the case of the Avengers, Thor has the least intellect shown out of the Main 4 (Tony is a tech genius, Cap is a natural leader + tactical mastermind, Bruce Banner is a brilliant gamma-radiation scientist). Although this doesn't mean Thor can't be successful, his chances of his popularity reaching Batman/Spider-Man/Iron Man levels are very low, especially in comparison to the other Avengers.
I disagree with the magic not being as relatable as science concept. Its an interesting theory but 3 billion dollars of Harry potters movies would kind of put that idea to rest.

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Old 11-30-2013, 11:06 PM   #11
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

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I disagree with the magic not being as relatable as science concept. Its an interesting theory but 3 billion dollars of Harry potters movies would kind of put that idea to rest.
Yeah, honestly, I think Marvel Studios' problem with their approach to Thor is that they aren't being magical *enough*. The most popular Thor stories amongst fandom, by far, are pure high fantasy, in the vein of Tolkien et al. Fans love the JMS-era stories about elves and trolls and sorceresses and the like traipsing around these wonderful, magical worlds. The universal constant complaint about Thor 1 and Thor 2 is "too much Earth, not enough Asgard (and beyond)". Nobody gives a **** about Darcy or her intern, or Selvig, or even Jane Foster.

If TDW had focused almost exclusively on the epic fantasy aspect of the mythos, it probably would have had a much bigger box office and much better reviews from both general audiences and fanboys alike.

The superhero genre is a very broad one, and often leans far more heavily towards a particular genre or other. Iron Man is nuts-n-bolts modern sci-fi; Cap started as a pure WWII genre, and is about to become political intrigue/espionage; Hulk tends towards the misunderstood monster genre. Thor is far better served in the pure fantasy genre. Trying to bring the characters down to earth (literally) fails at every turn, and even trying to go all Star Wars blasters 'n' spaceships as TDW did just tends to muddle things.

Thor is a fantasy character. Marvel hired Alan Taylor specifically for his experience in creating a very popular fantasy milieu. Instead of letting him use that expertise in TDW, though, they gave him a mixed bag of space opera and earthbound sitcom tomfoolery that has little or nothing to do with fantasy.

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Old 11-30-2013, 11:15 PM   #12
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Yeah, honestly, I think Marvel Studios' problem with their approach to Thor is that they aren't being magical *enough*. The most popular Thor stories amongst fandom, by far, are pure high fantasy, in the vein of Tolkien et al. Fans love the JMS-era stories about elves and trolls and sorceresses and the like traipsing around these wonderful, magical worlds. The universal constant complaint about Thor 1 and Thor 2 is "too much Earth, not enough Asgard (and beyond)". Nobody gives a **** about Darcy or her intern, or Selvig, or even Jane Foster.

If TDW had focused almost exclusively on the epic fantasy aspect of the mythos, it probably would have had a much bigger box office and much better reviews from both general audiences and fanboys alike.

The superhero genre is a very broad one, and often leans far more heavily towards a particular genre or other. Iron Man is nuts-n-bolts modern sci-fi; Cap started as a pure WWII genre, and is about to become political intrigue/espionage; Hulk tends towards the misunderstood monster genre. Thor is far better served in the pure fantasy genre. Trying to bring the characters down to earth (literally) fails at every turn, and even trying to go all Star Wars blasters 'n' spaceships as TDW did just tends to muddle things.

Thor is a fantasy character. Marvel hired Alan Taylor specifically for his experience in creating a very popular fantasy milieu. Instead of letting him use that expertise in TDW, though, they gave him a mixed bag of space opera and earthbound sitcom tomfoolery that has little or nothing to do with fantasy.

Ya I dont really like the idea of mixing those genres like that. I suppose one could argue star wars did it in a way. But with Thor and the gods the idea of lasers and spaceships doesnt work in my mind. Of course I wasnt a fan of what they did with the Cap movie either regarding sci fi.

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Old 12-01-2013, 01:58 AM   #13
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so the OP bases his question on what he/she has heard from others but you can't answer from the box office stats. Me thinks you want one answer. yours

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Old 12-01-2013, 08:05 AM   #14
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so the OP bases his question on what he/she has heard from others but you can't answer from the box office stats. Me thinks you want one answer. yours
The box office isn't something that Marvel is especially proud of. Yes, by all measures, it's a certified blockbuster and turned a profit. But when you start getting out the measuring tape, it's still not the "Avenger bounce" that Marvel was hoping for. Thor still barely hovers around the bottom rung of the Top 20 superhero movies ladder in terms of box office, and he still rates a very distant third to The Avengers and Iron Man as Marvel Studios' moneymakers. It did considerably better overseas this time, but it still hasn't caught Thor 1's domestic totals, even after nearly a month in theaters.

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Old 12-01-2013, 08:50 PM   #15
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

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The box office isn't something that Marvel is especially proud of. Yes, by all measures, it's a certified blockbuster and turned a profit. But when you start getting out the measuring tape, it's still not the "Avenger bounce" that Marvel was hoping for. Thor still barely hovers around the bottom rung of the Top 20 superhero movies ladder in terms of box office, and he still rates a very distant third to The Avengers and Iron Man as Marvel Studios' moneymakers. It did considerably better overseas this time, but it still hasn't caught Thor 1's domestic totals, even after nearly a month in theaters.
I think the hope for this film was probably $250 M domestic/ $500 M foreign. No one in their right mind should've seen this doing $1 Billion, but $750 M seemed doable, and even likely to me.

I sort of feel like Marvel doesn't trust the Thor property enough to make a truly great, epic Thor film. We have flashes of greatness, but Thor: The Dark World is really a Thor/ Jane Foster film, with Jane's supporting cast getting as much or more attention than pivotal Thor supporting characters. They're slave to the human element, which I understand, but don't really like.

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Old 12-01-2013, 10:00 PM   #16
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The box office isn't something that Marvel is especially proud of. Yes, by all measures, it's a certified blockbuster and turned a profit. But when you start getting out the measuring tape, it's still not the "Avenger bounce" that Marvel was hoping for. Thor still barely hovers around the bottom rung of the Top 20 superhero movies ladder in terms of box office, and he still rates a very distant third to The Avengers and Iron Man as Marvel Studios' moneymakers. It did considerably better overseas this time, but it still hasn't caught Thor 1's domestic totals, even after nearly a month in theaters.
Thor 1 Domestic Total: $181,030,624
Thor TDW Domestic : $186,712,000 (estimate)

When the totals are counted for this weekend TDW will have officially surpassed its original predecessor's entire run in a mere 23 days. Its not hard to see this film doing 15-20 million better- and anyway u slice it, that spells success!

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Old 12-01-2013, 11:08 PM   #17
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I think one other factor that needs to be considered is Thor 2011 got rhe coveted summer opening position, TDW got... early November? Keep that in mind and Thor 2 performed better than the numbers suggest.

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Old 12-01-2013, 11:53 PM   #18
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

Just a short post for now, maybe more later.

First, where's BigThor ? He's the staunchest defender of the Hammer Throwing God, so you can't have this debate without him

Second, in terms of their status and power, Thor is sort of the Superman of the Marvel universe. If there's room for Big Blue, there's room for Thor
on the big screen.

Third I, for one, liked the sci-fi elements of thor (the spaceships, the flying Viking boats) the way it was done, it worked for me anyway.


Fourth, Loki is a big draw, and he owns every scene he's in, except maybe when he's onscreen with Hopkins - who's an acting god, acting as a god. Anyway, while Hiddleston always ups the game with Loki, I thought Hemsworth has been good as Thor, and the character showed some reasonable growth in TDW, compared to Thor when we first meet him in his eponymous film.

Fifth, to be utterly honest I vastly preferred TDW to IM 3, and even to Avengers. I thought the humour was less forced (the god of thunder having to use the tube, priceless), and the action less video-game-ish.

True, I'm one of those who thought Selvig provided some pretty decent laughs, but I could do with a lot less Darcy, and her intern just took up the other actors' oxygen.

Portman is passable as Jane Foster, but to really develop that character, they need to develop the rivalry between her and Sif, which at least Sif feels. I can't believe I'm saying this, as she's a great (not good, but great) actress, but Portman needs to lift her game as Jane foster. The romance angle is not believable enough IMO.


Finally, Thor has an immense comic mythology to draw on. They started scratching the surface of Walt Simonson's amazing work from the 80's.
Mine that vein some more, bring on Surtur and Beta Ray Bill.

So in short, not only is Thor a valid character, but he's been admirably represented thus far, and there's so much potential for future stories.

And this is all coming from a Superman fan, not a Thor fan. Looking forward to Thor's third movie.

Yea verily anon !

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Old 12-02-2013, 12:17 AM   #19
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I like the films. While Thor TDW may not be a standout MCU film, it is a solid entry in a line of several films that have been appealing to audiences.

Let's face it Thor is not comparable to Superman, because little was known of his comic counterpart prior to the film coming out, unlike Superman who is a cultural icon.

Even the mythological Thor is not well known. The Greek pantheon is far more known than the Norse, even if our days of the week are named after them. Even Roman mythology is more versed here.

Now if someone is upset that their particular interpretation of the character didn't happen that's another story. The movies have been successful, not Iron Man successful but solid. DC has yet to have a hit outside of Batman and Superman, while Marvel has had a string of success with multiple characters. Not everyone can be Iron Man or Spider-man.

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Old 12-02-2013, 12:43 AM   #20
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

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Thor 1 Domestic Total: $181,030,624
Thor TDW Domestic : $186,712,000 (estimate)

When the totals are counted for this weekend TDW will have officially surpassed its original predecessor's entire run in a mere 23 days. Its not hard to see this film doing 15-20 million better- and anyway u slice it, that spells success!
TDW will end its run somewhere north of $600 million WW. It won't be too far shy of MOS, even though that film features the best known superhero in the world. People who poor-mouth the box office totals because the billion-dollar mark feels like an easy goal for a movie to reach are very shortsighted.

As for whether Thor is difficult to do well, I would say that Marvel has proven in three outings with the character that the answer is no. Thor and his world have achieved acceptance with the audience and he has been established as a popular superhero. It's a subjective matter, of course, so each person will have a different opinion.

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Old 12-02-2013, 12:49 AM   #21
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My two cents is that the way the character was set up and handled in his first solo film and Avengers proves that as long as the effort is put into it audiences will respond to the character and his world. I don't like TDW but I appear to be in the minority. People are liking Thor and his supporting characters just fine it seems and what ever you may say about the way things in the last film were handled it can't be denied that this franchise has made mega stars out of Chris and Tom. The degree of difficulty was very high, but I think MARVEL pulled it off.

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Old 12-02-2013, 08:04 AM   #22
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My two cents is that the way the character was set up and handled in his first solo film and Avengers proves that as long as the effort is put into it audiences will respond to the character and his world. I don't like TDW but I appear to be in the minority. People are liking Thor and his supporting characters just fine it seems and what ever you may say about the way things in the last film were handled it can't be denied that this franchise has made mega stars out of Chris and Tom. The degree of difficulty was very high, but I think MARVEL pulled it off.
I *wish* it couldn't be denied, but outside of Thor and Loki, Chris and Tom can't generate any box office buzz at all. The Deep Blue Sea? Midnight In Paris? War Horse? The Cabin in the Woods? Red Dawn? Rush? Check the numbers. Nobody's rushing (pun) out to see Chris Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston on simply a name basis. Even the big box office for Snow White and the Huntsman is far more likely to be attributable to K-Stew's tweenie fanbase rather than Hem's.

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Old 12-02-2013, 08:34 AM   #23
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A morally ambiguous portrayal does not automatically equate to a nuanced or interesting portrayal. While TV's "golden age" heroes (I'm thinking of Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper and the like) have invariably been anti-heroes, or sometimes out-and-out evil, I don't think that is necessarily a prerequisite for quality characterization. Is Hemsworth's Thor as nuanced or compelling a character as, say, Gandolfini's Tony Soprano? No, but the Marvel movies are meant to be more condensed and thematically meant to play to both a wider and broader audience.

While I would have preferred a little more depth to Thor's central characterization, I'm perfectly fine with what we've gotten thus far. And as for the OP's original question, Thor's powerset or traditionally heroic aspects don't inherently disqualify a deep or nuanced or compelling or interesting characterization.

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Old 12-02-2013, 08:39 AM   #24
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Default Re: Is Thor "Too Difficult" A Character To Do Well?

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I *wish* it couldn't be denied, but outside of Thor and Loki, Chris and Tom can't generate any box office buzz at all. The Deep Blue Sea? Midnight In Paris? War Horse? The Cabin in the Woods? Red Dawn? Rush? Check the numbers. Nobody's rushing (pun) out to see Chris Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston on simply a name basis. Even the big box office for Snow White and the Huntsman is far more likely to be attributable to K-Stew's tweenie fanbase rather than Hem's.
Midmight in Paris made $56,473,065. that's more than To Rome With Love, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Whatever Works, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Cassandra's Dream combined and one of the highest grossing Woody Allen movies of all time.
And Rush should be Chris' first Oscar nomination, just saying. I'm not shocked that a F1 movie hasn't made much money in the US, but in countries with a deep F1 tradition it was very successful. It was the highest grossing movie three weeks in a row here in Austria and the critics loved it.

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Old 12-02-2013, 08:59 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by cherokeesam View Post
I *wish* it couldn't be denied, but outside of Thor and Loki, Chris and Tom can't generate any box office buzz at all. The Deep Blue Sea? Midnight In Paris? War Horse? The Cabin in the Woods? Red Dawn? Rush? Check the numbers. Nobody's rushing (pun) out to see Chris Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston on simply a name basis. Even the big box office for Snow White and the Huntsman is far more likely to be attributable to K-Stew's tweenie fanbase rather than Hem's.
Also, before The Avengers made RDJ the undisputed title holder, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie were arguably the two biggest names in Hollywood in 2010. Yet, The Tourist utterly bombed. I may be cherry-picking here, but my point is that starpower isn't the only factor when it comes to BO success. Also, considering their subject matter and production budgets, both Rush and Cabin in the Woods performed quite well at the box office. Red Dawn was an absolute clunker, and even a pre-After-Earth Will Smith wouldn't have saved that one.

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