Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More Norse Mythology, Yaaay! Also, THOR 2 IS AWESOME!

So, I went to see Thor: The Dark World with my friend today.


I liked it even better than the first one, actually. The storyline was a little hard to follow at points, but I kept up all right and caught a few subtle mythology references to boot!


So in the first Thor movie, Marvel pretty much pulled a few things from the myths, threw out the rest, and created their own storyworld, which I enjoyed immensely. I do have a mental list of the stuff they got wrong.

#1, and this really is the most important, Thor and Loki are NOT brothers. I know I said this in my last post, but it  bears repeating. A long time ago, before Odin became king/chief/All-Father, he was wandering around in Jotunheim when he met a half-Jotun, half-Asa (god) named Loki. They took to each other so much that they let their blood run together and swore an oath to always be brothers, to fight side by side and that one would never accept a favour unless it was also offered to the other. (The oath got broken later, though.)

But Thor and Loki do have lots of adventures, so I can see why Marvel did that.

#2. They left out the story behind Odin losing an eye.

I really understand them leaving this out, because it's kind of a long story and totally unnecessary to the plot of the movies, but still. Odin's missing eye is pretty much the reason he's qualified to lead Asgard.

A while after he'd met Loki, Odin decided that he needed to acquire wisdom. He took out his eye, threw it into Mimir's Well*, and hung himself off of Yggdrasil** for nine nights and nine days. When the nine days were over, the runes of wisdom fell from the tree and Odin became the All-Father.

*Mimir's Well is a very special place in Jotunheim. It's a well guarded by the talking, decapitated head of a very wise Jotun called Mimir. Long story.

**Yggdrasil is the world tree, which branches through all nine realms. It's the center of Norse mythology: everything revolves around it, in a way.

#3: I'm not sure if I should mention this, but Thor's friends are almost all people Marvel made up. I say this because it would have been fairly easy to pull a few names out of the Norse canon, but they didn't.

I actually like how they did the Bifrost Bridge and Asgard--it looks really cool! And they got Heimdall more or less right--he's the guardian of the bridge who sees and hears everything.

#4, and this is really just nitpicking: They got Sif's hair colour wrong! I mean, yeah, it's a minor detail, but come on, guys. There's an entire myth about it. *facepalm*

In the myths, Sif is actually Thor's wife (which would explain why she doesn't like Jane Foster). There's one story wherein Loki sneaks up on Sif while she's asleep and cuts off her hair. Sif had very beautiful golden hair, the most beautiful of any goddess, so she and Thor were pretty ticked off. Loki promised to make amends by getting Sif new hair. He runs off to the world of the dwarves and gets the Sons of Ivaldi to make hair out of real gold, which he then brings back to Sif along with some other goodies for the Aesir.

Then Loki makes a rather stupid bet with a dwarf named Brokk. Loki says that the Sons of Ivaldi are the best smiths in the world and there's no way Brokk's brother Sindri could make anything better than they could. Brokk takes him up on this. The loser loses his head.

Despite some interference from Loki, Sindri makes some pretty cool stuff: a collapsable ship that can hold all the Aesir but still fold up and fit into a purse, a flying golden boar for Frey, god of fertility and sunlight, and, best of all, Mjolnir.

Yep, that's where Mjolnir came from. Odin really doesn't have any control over it.

The gods say that Brokk won the bet, but just before he cuts Loki's head off Loki says, "WAIT A MINUTE! I said you could have my head, but you're NOT allowed to touch my neck."

And that's how Loki escaped death on a technicality! But he didn't get away totally scot-free. Brokk got a leather thong and stitched his mouth shut, which sounds quite painful and kept Loki quiet for a little while.

I've noticed that Norse stories tend to lead to digression in a way that Greek myths often don't. Or maybe that's just me.

One more thing that I just remembered!

#5: I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as "Odinsleep." That was just a plot device to take Odin out of action in the first movie.

And now moving on to the second movie!

The one additional thing they changed that wasn't changed in the first movie was Loki's punishment. Compared to what they did to him in the myths, being locked in a cushy cell was shockingly lenient! I mean, he kills 80 people and they just throw him in jail?! In the myths he kills one person (Baldur) and yeah, okay, he does do some other bad stuff too, but not mass murder.

After the Lokasenna, wherein Loki crashes a feast and viciously insults almost everyone, the gods hunt him down, drag him to a cave in Niflheim, tie him to three sharp rocks with the entrails of his own son, whom they murder right in front of him, and as if that wasn't enough Skadi (goddess of the mountains) hangs a serpent over him so that it can drip poison on his face.

I mean, geez. I didn't even find out about the entrails thing until recently and I was like, WHOA. *Shudder* That seems like overkill.

Moving on...

They referenced some actual myths! And this made me very, very happy! :D

There's this one scene where people are walking around Asgard and some of the gods are out in a courtyard training falcons, and then this raven swoops down and lands on Odin's arm and caws kind of like it's talking to him.

Well, guess what? It is! Odin has two ravens, Hugin and Munin, who fly around the world to bring him news, and that was definitely one of them.

Also, there's a myth where Thor actually fights a giant made out of clay! Granted, he doesn't actually smash it--it just kind of falls over on him. But I'm pretty sure they referenced it in the movie!

Skip to 2:13 in the above trailer and you'll see it.

That scene made me very happy. Yay!

Oh, and there's a scene with Yggdrasil in it! They don't mention it by name, but it's a beautiful image of a giant tree with the nine realms in its branches.

So yeah, it was a good movie and I really enjoyed it. Lots of stuff blew up. There were some wonderful funny moments. I recommend it, for all its flaws. Marvel really just has its own storyworld, and I like that a lot.

Doesn't stop me imagining Myth Loki's reaction to the movie, though...:D