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April 30, 2012

‘Avengers’: Joss Whedon finds human side of thunder god

Posted in: Movies

“The Avengers” will fill the sky with Marvel icons – that is, if the summer’s most crowded film doesn’t remain earthbound under the great weight of its teeming ensemble. That challenge is why Joss Whedon was brought in as the director and screenwriter. He’s a true savant when it comes to snappy dialogue and scenes that become sly symphonies of angst, bravado, love, lust, doubt and deceit. With all of that in mind, we asked Whedon to talk about the major characters and what each brings to the group dynamic. Today: Thor.

Chris Hemsworth returns to the role of Thor in "The Avengers" (Walt Disney Studios)

There’s a scene in “Thor” in which the title hero, played by Chris Hemsworth, is working the crowd in the majestic hall of Asgard’s royal family. As a disdainful Odin looks on, his cocky son grins, struts and swaggers like a vainglorious varsity quarterback in some sort of celestial homecoming parade. You won’t be seeing that facet of the thunder god’s persona in “The Avengers” – this is a hero who has come a long way and that journey has included loss, betrayal, longing and sacrifice.

More than that, in “The Avengers” he must confront the fear and shame he feels as his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), piles up a body count and moves forward with a dark plot to destroy Earth.

The presence of Thor in the Avengers puts a god among men – or a god-like alien prince, at the very least — and that is both a challenge and an opportunity for Joss Whedon, the director and co-writer who says the distances between the characters are the places where the story can be built.

“He is so far removed from all the people he’s with, but he is very human,” Whedon said. “His brother, Loki, really believes the hype. We are better than them. The great thing about Thor is that in some many ways he is everything we are not, but he never feels that way. He can be impulsive and haughty and frustrated with us every now and then, but he understands what a team is and what makes it work. And that is why he’s going to be king one day.”

Whedon said it was also inspiring to see Hemsworth (whom he knew from “Cabin in the Woods“) arrive on the set in the morning. “He looks,” Whedon said, “more like a god than anybody I know.”

– Geoff Boucher

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