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Thor: The Dork World (Order)

November 11, 2013

thordorkSo I went to go see this new Thor movie, despite knowing I probably wasn’t gonna dig it.

I will say this: It was a bit better than I was expecting. The thing is, I was expecting it to be a horrendously abysmal piece of crap. I was expecting stuff smashing into other stuff and people shouting and millions dying without anyone really giving a damn. I fully expected this to piss me off the way Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel pissed me off, but it didn’t. It was stupid– it was crappy film making– but it didn’t have any of that nihilistic, thuggish crap. It was just boring fluff.

That said, the movie’s faults are pretty endemic of what’s wrong with the whole “geek culture” thing as a whole.

And yeah, I despise the way “culture” is tacked onto the word “geek,” as if “I like mass media that contains fantastical elements” is some sort of character trait that signifies you as a member of a modern-day sub-culture. It’s an absurd concept, but my misgivings with the very concept are irrelevant here. People genuinely use this as some sort of badge, proclaiming that their pop culture consumption habits make them different people. It makes as much sense as saying you belong to “Bic Safety Razor culture” or “Wendy’s Value Mean culture,” but enough people buy into it and we gotta roll with it to understand these trends.

My problem is with the way the modern geek places far too much importance upon moments than the big picture.

The big picture in Thor 2 is of no consequence. You have a faceless, generic horde. Said horde wants to obtain a plot device that can BLOW UP EVERYTHING. That’s a bad thing, so someone has to stop it, and the only reason why Thor is the one who has to stop it is because they can’t just make a movie about the things “geek culture” actually wants out of a Thor movie. The fans want to fawn over the possible relationships in the movie. They want Jane x Thor and Sif x Thor and Loki x Thor. The fans also want to have the fact that they’ve watched other Avengers-centric movies acknowledged. They want characters to talk about the events of The Avengers and reference other movies despite said movies having no significance in the events of this movie. They want their movie-watching habits validated by the next movie they watch, and that is achieved by “continuity.” They also want their future movie viewing habits validated, so we get the post-credit “stingers” that hint at what’s to come. Again, said things have nothing to do with “Dark Elves Kill the Universe,” but it’s these things that “the fan” wants.

On this level, Thor 2 nails it. We get these moments. We get Jane and Thor being all lovey-dovey. We get Sif and Thor being whatevery-whatevery. We get Loki and Thor acting like Han Solo and Princess Leia. We get a Captain America cameo that was kinda amusing, but doesn’t really make sense when you actually think about it. We get an admittedly awesome post-credit scene that hints at the Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming out next summer. We also get a climax that involves portals opening up everywhere, which will undoubtedly please the nerd masses because it’ll remind them of those Portal video games.

These are the things that people will remember, and none of these moments have any real bearing on the movie as a whole. Jane is just a vessel for the plot device– a piece of flesh that allows it to get from one side of the universe to the other. Sif does nothing other than help aid Thor and Loki on their nonsensical escape plan. Loki is supposed to help Thor escape Asgard without attracting attention, but everything they do seems to do the exact opposite. They didn’t need Loki’s secret exit when they made just as much noise as they would have escaping out the front door. None of these characters are in the movie because their presence is relevant to the plot. They’re here because the audience expects certain character moments. They don’t care how they get that fix so long as the fix is delivered.

The same goes for the name-checking that passes for continuity. The Iron Man movies do a much better job at this, since each movie centers around Stark dealing with the fallout of a previous movie. He goes public in the first movie, so he has to deal with being a public figure, government demands, and similar things in Iron Man 2. 2 might not be a very good movie, but the sense of continuity is fairly organic. The same goes for Iron Man 3. The events of The Avengers changed things, and Iron Man 3 is about Stark changing how he views the world.

Thor 2 is about some alien race wanting a cosmic bauble that will let them do bad crap. If Thor 2 actually cared about this plot, this stand alone story wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that the movie seems to do its best to avoid its plot. The scenes dealing with the Dark Elves are tedious, and you get the feeling they’re there just to create some “epic” foe for Thor to thwart.

Basically, the moments creating the actual meat of the story aren’t the moments the creators assumed the audience cared about. It really does feel like this movie is just a bunch of isolated, unrelated scenes of fanservice linked together by arbitrary, inconsequential threads. This isn’t a movie about something. This isn’t really a movie. This is a handful of Youtube-ready, gif-friendly scenes with the movie equivalent of packing peanuts stuffed around them to fit them into the UPS box they mistook for a movie.

It seems like that’s exactly what the geek audience wants. It isn’t about the storytelling or the craft of movie making. It’s Geek Church. The audience goes into the movie expecting to see certain things in such a movie, and if they can turn around and spread the gospel by means of fanfiction and memes and other easily digested pieces, they are satisfied.

The same can be said about modern anime trends. The way the comic book fan worships the namechecking of Marvel movie continuity is no different from the moe fan who only watches anime because he gets to satisfy his tsundere or megane fetish. Isn’t that basically fetishism and idolatry? It’s worshiping and adoring the image instead of the message– it’s taking the minute detail and seeing that not only as more important than the whole, but as the only thing of importance.

It’s weird, dude. Y’all are weird.



4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2013 10:21 AM

    So, Thor 2 is the K-On 2 of the Marvel-verse Movies. It takes out all the story that existed in the first movie, or the previous movies for that matter, in favor of the moe bits. Thor x Loki Bro-cest is just Mugi eating cake.

  2. Di-Dorval permalink
    November 11, 2013 2:21 PM

    I love how you bash geek culture here. The damn thing never made sense to me. Like girls wearing glasses screaming around that they are nerds (or wearing a shirt with the word in big letters written on it or Felicia Day) or pony fans being obnoxious. It’s all about wanting to fit in and it’s a bit depressing and strange. How they manage to say that others are the problem and that they are just all so unique afterwards baffles me.

    Haven’t seen the movie though nor do I have any intention to see it. The few movies of this ‘group’ I saw didn’t impress me..

  3. November 11, 2013 4:29 PM

    So geek culture is to blame for why To-Love-Ru fails despite having practically the same elements as Urusei Yatsura. Why am I not surprised?

  4. ScottPilgrimFan permalink
    December 22, 2013 4:28 AM

    I think you’re on to something, though you might not being giving the movie enough credit. This movie, despite the necessary “geek moments” being there, has more than just that. The relationship between Loki and Thor, how Loki was affected by the events in New York, and how Thor was going to choose between being a king in Asgard or being in love on Earth were all important elements in the movie. The enemies were definitely weak, but that was in part because Thor’s interactions with others were more important. Despite what I’m saying above, I liked your essay! Happy holidays!

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