Scene 3, Asgard; Odin as Storyteller and Teacher
I really like this scene. It’s a very clever and IMO successful way to transition the audience out of the Norway scenes which set up the Asgardians as good guys and the Frost Giants as the bad guys (though still I’d like to know why they were attacking Earth, so they aren’t just evil-because-they’re-evil), and into the Norse mythology of Odin, Thor, and Loki. There’s also plenty of foreshadowing going on, so this scene truly bridges the past (Norway and the glimpse of Jotunheim) and the future/present (current-day Asgard).
It also very nicely establishes for us a set of relationships that are central to the movie.
Good casting, the kids even look a bit like the adult actors. Young Loki is mostly solemn, listening and learning intently. Young Thor is more full of energy and reacts more physically to things. Young Loki asks a question about whether the Frost Giants “still live” (watch this and force yourself to remember who Loki is); Young Thor dreams of a battle. The “when I’m king” part is a bit overdone, IMO, especially the beat after it, when you almost feel like you’re supposed to fill in “and the other brother isn’t,” though I don’t think that’s what Young Thor had in mind, I think he was stacking himself up against his father, not his brother, maybe just my interpretation of the characters. The harder thing to say is how Young Loki took it. Young Loki actor does a good job of keeping the character enigmatic as Tom Hiddleston does much of the time. But Young Loki already knew he was not the heir, and I don’t think he took it as “and you aren’t.” I put the unnecessary beat on the director and not on the child actor, who did a great job conveying Thor’s energy and exuberance with life.
I love the moment when Young Loki too breaks into a grin and he and Thor go running after their father. It looks like they have a true friendship and are closely bonded brothers. You imagine that despite their different demeanors and personalities they do a lot of smiling and laughing together.
“Only one of you can ascend to the throne, but both of you were born to be kings.”
Okay…WHAT was Odin thinking? What sane person would tell kids something like this? I mean, okay, it’s a nice “line” for the audience, it foreshadows the competition between the two and plants in the viewer’s mind that the one who “can’t ascend to the throne,” the dark-haired boy, might not be too happy with that since was “born to be” a king. But interior to the story, he may as well have said, “And I now ensure that you grow up to be a jealous, conniving, villain who will always feel he has been cheated in life.” I mean if I were told I and my brother were “born to be kings” but only my brother would become one…I think I too would be questioning that pretty heavily! (“Why can’t I be one too, then? What’s wrong with or less special about me that only he gets to?)
Odin is acting as a good father, teaching them about history, about their family’s legacy, about the universe beyond their realm. It’s a nice, tender, family, bonding moment. I absolutely love the shot of them walking toward camera, both boys with a hand held by their father’s. You think this is a happy, loving family. But there’s that line that out of nowhere screams “terrible father.” I could see him saying that to his wife in a quiet introspective moment…but not to his two little boys. It seems cruel. And I don’t think Odin as otherwise presented in this scene and others would actually say that to them.
Maybe Odin was just kind of lost in his memories and forgetting to be careful what he says to two young impressionable boys listening with rapt attention. That’s what I prefer to think, anyway.
Loki doesn’t seem bothered by it, though. Maybe Odin says this all the time. Hmmmm…maybe there’s the problem!
Actually, now that I think about it…only one of them has become a king…hmmmmm…