Much Ado About Thor
by Cameron Roy Hall
The Thor films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are about a magic space Viking who shoots lightning from a hammer while looking absolutely fabulous (and that sentence is probably the most sane thing about the almost trilogy of movies). What’s great about Thor and company is their unyielding desire to speak like an immortal group of Shakespeare characters.
Funny I should mention Shakespeare…
Learning time! Stop EVERYTHING you’re doing and plug in Thor or Thor: the Dark World. I’ll wait. Assuming your kids are as gung ho about this as I am, they not only watched the above Thor titles, but also Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron because their education is worth it. Think back to everything Thunder Fabio said. It really did sound like Shakespeare, didn’t it? Almost like they’re connected…
They totally are connected. Completely and totally and beautifully connected. At first glance it’s almost comical, but the Shakespearian influences on the Thor franchise are about as subtle as my use of dramatic structure. From the obvious use of language like, “Do not mistake my appetite for apathy,” to the actual casting, Thor is an ode to the Bard, who definitely would’ve carried a thunder hammer if he knew where to find one.
So let’s look at a few of the ways that Shakespeare inspired the Thor comics and movies. Consider yourself challenged to find some comparisons that I don’t.
Cast and Crew
The quickest way to see how the movies were affected by good ol’ Will is to look at the director himself, Kenneth Branagh. Branagh, though probably most widely recognizable for portraying a certain lilac loving Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, is a heavily experienced Shakespearean talent, specializing in the Bard’s works. He’s not the only prominent figure with such credits, either. Know the name Tom Hiddleston? You should, because he’s that green villainous guy who stole your heart in both the Thor films and The Avengers. Hiddleston has performed in productions such as Coriolanus and Othello. Forget #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan. It’s #TeamLoki ALL. THE.WAY.
Plot and Characters
There’s more to Thor than magic space Vikings. There’s a royal family choosing an heir, there’s a treacherous brother vying for the throne, there’s forbidden love and oh my gosh you guys, what else do I need to say here?! The movies alone draw on enough Hamlet and Julius Caesar to leave you crying “Et tu, Loki?”
I really like Loki, guys.
I wish I was cool enough to say half of the lines in this movie without sounding like a Dungeons & Dragons fanatic. Seriously, everything these people say could have come directly from one of the Bard’s plays. Thor spouts beautiful quandaries, Loki spews the most eloquently worded venom possible, and that’s just in the movies. The comics go even deeper into their vicious eloquence.
Let’s try a few out…
“Waves are but water, wind but air. And though lightning be fire…yet it must answer thunder’s call.”
“Hast thou stolen from me thy dying words? Thy fatherly hand, thy fatherly smile?”
“A man may fight, though hope be dim—a god will fight when hope be gone!”
Yep. Lines from Thor comics. Not Shakespeare, but close enough.
Without just copy and pasting the script here, it’s hard to show you just how similar the writing styles are, so I’ll leave you with a little “homework.” Here’s a link that takes you to a quiz which asks whether or not a line is spoken by Thor… or by Shakespeare. Think you know your bard? I took it with half of my family and we still lost. And we’re NERDS. So, by the Hammer of Thor, challenge yourself.
Check out our Shakespeare Family Workshop!
This hands-on five week workshop is great for all kinds of learners. The online class provides a multi-sensory approach to the study of Shakespeare and his works. A few informal writing assignments will be provided for families to do together or separately.