Thor is one of the first phase movies in the MCU that I never really had an opinion on. I remember watching it when it came to TV and thinking it was fine, but at the time I didn't know much (or care much) for the characters. I remember thinking that the premise of Asgard and the Nine Realms as distinct planets and cultures was a nice riff on Norse mythology and that was about that.
But then Loki became a beloved villain-turned-antihero in the first Avengers movie, which also helped flesh out how fun Thor could be, so I was actively pumped when The Dark World came out and actually saw it at the cinema. I hated it (though my feelings have mellowed with time) and therefore condemned the Thor franchise to obscurity, never feeling the need to revisit the first outing.
However, in a post-Endgame world, with the brilliance of Ragnarok now having shown that Thor could be centre stage in an excellent film, and with Disney+ giving my easy access to the entire MCU again, why not revisit it and see if – in hindsight – there was more to Thor than met the eye. Well, I think there probably was.
Considering the source material and general lack of popular knowledge around Thor, I think using him as part of the first set of films was a pretty bold move. As a result, the film goes into a decent amount of detail about how the Nine Realms function, which is a lot of fun to watch and includes some great world-building. On that front, I'm very impressed by how well Asgard holds up; you can tell a lot of the sets are practical, as they look brilliant, and the fashion design, architecture, and art direction in general of the Asgardians are genuinely great.
In other areas, you can see that Thor is a little primitive within the wider universe. Loki feels a little more like his comics counterpart and a lot more villainous, though I did enjoy his arc a lot more and feel like it serves to underpin his actions in Avengers a great deal better than I had credited it in the past. There are also a few moments when characters like Odin make reference to certain elements of the cosmic side of the Marvel continuity that doesn't entirely work with what we now know, or even about Asgard which would later be slightly retconned (the Infinity Gauntlet being a notable one). Despite these niggles, overall the film is surprisingly consistent with what comes next, both immediately in Avengers Assemble and in later Thor or Thor-related movies. To that end I have to give further props to Fiege and everyone involved in plotting these movies out.
I also found the human characters – Jane, Eric, and Darsy – a lot more manageable, and the Hawkeye/Coulson cameos are great fun with hindsight. The humans help ground the story (as does the small-town US setting) and provide a useful alternative perspective to all the grand goings-on in Asgard, whilst the wider Marvel nods help flesh out the story and make it feel more interconnected with what we've seen elsewhere. The Destroyer is well designed but ultimately does feel like a bit of a lacklustre threat, but that's largely because the story isn't about that. It's more about the emotional growth of Thor, who goes from spoilt brat to hero, as well as the introduction of a new side of the MCU. In those senses, it definitely works and helps lay the foundations for a surprisingly successful character in the process. Overall, I'd say it's the worst of the phase one origin stories (Incredible Hulk aside as its status is still uncertain) but its a more coherent story than Iron Man 2 and a generally more entertaining film than many phase two films. When considered as a standalone entity, it's a fun romp with some interesting and quite unique characters, and a decent dash of humour throughout.