Dir. Kenneth Branagh ($449.3 million)
Acclaimed, celebrated Shakespearean actor of stage and screen Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Henry V) took on director duties for the verbose Norse god of Thunder. This made a whole lot of sense in two key ways: 1) the comic book super hero Thor speaks like a character straight out of one of the Bard’s plays and Branagh’s extensive experience lends itself well to such a lead; 2) Branagh’s distinguished name drew A-list, Oscar-winners Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Your Highness) and Sir Anthony Hopkins (The Rite, The Silence of the Lambs)to take roles in the franchise. Unfortunately, this film wins on performances alone despite a lackluster, rushed romance between leads Portman and Chris Hemsworth (Red Dawn, Snow White and the Huntsman).
Thor’s special effects are terrific, but the film relies too heavily on special effects for a great portion and then drops CGI altogether for a portion taking place in a one-horse New Mexico town that resembles a studio back lot made to look like a one-horse town. There’s unevenness to Thor’s setting that throws off the pacing and coupled with Branagh’s tilted camera, the film just comes out as an uncomfortable journey with killer performances and a top tier villain in Tom Hiddleston’s (Midnight in Paris, Only Lovers Left Alive) angry, tricky Loki reminiscent of Iago. Hiddleston and Hemsworth’s chemistry as brothers saves the film, adding an element unique only to Thor over the other Avengers. The worst aspect of Iron Man 2 perhaps saves Thor as it has subtle nods to The Avengers pertaining to the central conflict as opposed to throwing in as many as possible just for its own sake.