"Thor" thunders into superhero movie summer
By Edwin Chan
BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - "Thor", the first of several superheroes debuting on movie screens this summer, hits U.S. theaters on Friday with out-sized hopes resting on the Norse deity's expansive shoulders.
Hollywood is praying that the God of Thunder and Marvel Comics staple will electrify a dismal 2011 box office, and squeeze more life out of a superhero genre that -- with some of the most iconic characters already established franchises -- is beginning to look tired.
"Thor" might seem an unlikely candidate to resuscitate the North American box office. The founding member of the original Avengers vanquishes his foes with a magical war hammer and the ability to call down thunder and lightning.
But with most of the marquee Marvel and DC Comics pantheon already committed to film, Hollywood is reaching ever deeper into the barrel to fish out new action hero franchises.
The challenge for classically-trained British film director Kenneth Branagh -- more usually associated with Shakespeare -- was to make sure his first venture into the world of the 3D action genre stood above the fray.
"It flips the usual superhero story. It isn't the ordinary man who's bitten by a spider and acquires supernatural powers," Branagh told Reuters in an interview.
"Here we have a superhero with those powers -- a God indeed -- who has to lose everything and engage with our audience," he said.
From the looks of things, "Thor" commands an edge in avoiding me-too status. It boasts Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins, and fellow Oscar winner and fanboy favorite Natalie Portman. Continued...