Okay, so. My fears are so realised (and I mean, besides this being a big dumb sequel to big dumb Avengers rather than surprisingly refreshing if deeply flawed Thor).
The characterisation is a case study in vast simplification.
Jane, in Thor1.0, is a fully realised human being whose role and goals in the story would have remained the same if she were a dude and the love interest angle didn’t exist. She’s always about her work, her motivations are never reduced from self-actualising, personal drives to anything less than the motivations of a protagonist. She is a protagonist. That she and Thor have physical chemistry is pretty much irrelevant to both character arcs; her impact on the plot comes from who she is as a person and the things she believes in.
Meanwhile, Thor2.0 Jane is simplified from having her affection for Thor be a bonus incentive while her real focus is on the fulfilment of her life’s work and her validation as a scientist, to her entire reason for existing being Thor’s girlfriend. I could see her slowing down in her progress and getting discouraged (I actually had this happen in my post-Thor1 fic), but not because her not-even-boyfriend isn’t paying enough attention to her. I can see her getting discouraged because it looked like she was finally over the hump and about to break through to a world of science literally no one but her believed possible, then it all stalled. I can see her being frustrated that she’s still not getting the recognition she deserves or even clandestine help from SHIELD (I mean, apparently; she doesn’t seem to be working for or with anyone, and Erik is off being crazy).
But no. None of those things are factors. She just curled up in a ball and cried until Thor came back of his own volition. Because clearly, even if they actually had a relationship (which they didn’t, you guys, they had a possibility of a relationship- not something you lay down and die over losing) she’s totally the kind of person who would therefore give up on her entire life. Ain’t nothing without a boyfriend, you know.
Oh my God, the slapping, too. I said my piece about her hitting Loki back in the day (Coles notes: I don’t think it’s out of character, but it is stupid and the movie shouldn’t be telling us to cheer her on for it), but I didn’t know about her slapping Thor back then. Triple facepalm. Come on now. This, I do think is out of character. It’s ridiculous and immature and I just can’t imagine Jane being so unreasonable and so melodramatic. She had no idea what she was sending him home to when he left and she’s more than smart enough to figure out that the New York situation was dire straits and if he couldn’t see her, he had good reasons. Besides which, given the way they left things, I don’t think she would feel at all entitled to treat him that way even if I thought she were the kind of person who would treat a deadbeat boyfriend like that.
Her agency is practically meaningless in this film. She’s a human McGuffin until the very end. Even in the end, they set it up in such a way that it seems like Erik could have done it by himself.
Thor… I don’t even know about Thor. Mostly okay, I guess? He’s just there. I mean, his attitude towards Odin is all kinds of inconsistent, but Odin is such a mess that I don’t even want to get into it. Thor’s group of merry warriors seemed detached and distant this go around, and he was bizarrely formal with Sif in a way that he definitely wasn’t in the first film. If something happened that made it weird between them, there should have been a line dropped about it. Basically, the W3 and Sif were so much set dressing. The feeling of shared history and natural friendship they managed to sketch in the original was MIA.
Loki. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Okay. Right. So, he had a very complex interlocking web of motivations in Thor1, not a single one of them simple or wholly malevolent, and his tragic downfall is the result of dozens of threads pulling him at once. You know one of the few things his motivation definitely wasn’t? Usurping the throne of Asgard. He didn’t covet it, he never expected it, and he didn’t usurp it. The throne was thrust upon him and that played a huge part in him finally falling off the deep end, but it wasn’t something he sought. In Thor2, a throne (any throne) is retconned to be literally his only motivation. That’s how the character is repeatedly defined by the film: As the son of Odin who wanted a throne too much. Like all the problems in Thor1 and Avengers just came from Loki, apropos of nothing, deciding he should have been king. Holy grossly inaccurate oversimplification, Batman!
Who the Hell is this Odin and where did he come from? This is not the Odin from Thor1. This is not the emotional place we left these characters in.
I just. jfkdsjfalkjds;lkajf;ld I’m not even coherent, but this is the stupidest, most unimaginative direction they could possible have gone with Loki. The only thing that’s interesting is him protecting Jane, his ‘death’ scene, whether he really was dying, and what he said to Thor as Odin. This is a magnificent, rich character reduced to some one-liners and like two half-hearted thrown bones of emotional depth.
Killing Frigga to team up Thor and Loki is just the most obvious, lazy, dart board of clichés cheap trick. They didn’t even make full use of it dramatically! All the machinery moving what can charitably be called the plot was fully visible.
I really, really, really wish Kenneth Branagh had come back. I feel like that would have helped immeasurably.
I didn’t hate it? It just felt… disconnected and pointless. I didn’t care about anyone or anything that was happening. That could be partially or wholly on me and how I’m not well right now, so I don’t know how I feel about it as a stand-alone blockbuster thing without reference to the original film, but it was big and dumb and full of the things that annoyed me so much in Avengers. Action with no stakes, shitty exposition, snappy lines even where they hurt the tone, exaggerated characters, gigantic plot holes, on and on. I did laugh at the physical comedy, but I think Hollywood needs to get over this Godzilla trend of carnage to any and all major cities which appear in superhero films. Dumb ass villains too. And that scene with the Collector looked like they stole some shots from Doctor Who. Although I would have forgiven a lot if Tom Baker had turned up.