With the big screen adaptation of Thor proving to be both a critical and commercial success, Clear Vision has re-released the 1966 animated series of The Mighty Thor on DVD. The series was a part of a nightly run of programming for Marvel animated series, with five key Marvel characters having their own night to showcase their adventures. Of course, Thor was aired on Thursdays.
Thirteen episodes are collected on two discs and cover a range of Thor’s greatest enemies, although Loki does dominate proceedings throughout, particularly on disc one, where the format appears to be Thor minds his own business on Earth trying to woo Jane Foster, whilst under the guise of Dr. Donald Blake. Of course, Loki can’t leave our hero be and decides to come up with various schemes to put Thor in danger or discredit him. Of course, Thor, often on the brink of defeat, manages to defeat Loki, and with the help of Odin, banishes him to imprisonment he won’t be able to escape. Well, until the next episode at least.
Given that the first disc is rather formulaic, it hardly makes for compelling viewing and much of the enjoyment is gleamed from the fantastic art work.
Disc two is where the series really hits its stride, mainly as it breaks from the formula and introduces an array of antagonists for Thor to face off against. Loki still makes appearances, and Odin’s displeasure at Thor’s relationship with a mortal is still evident in every episode, but having the focus on other antagonists is a refreshing change.
The final episode will, no doubt, be the one of most interesting to the majority of the target audience, as it brings together the members of The Avengers as they face off against the Lava Men. The episode itself features a muddled plot and resolves itself a little too quickly for you to really register what’s happened, but seeing all of the characters work together against an antagonist that isn’t Loki is a nice change.
As entertaining as it is, I strongly doubt Mr. Whedon will be using this as the basis for his big screen interpretation of The Avengers next year.
Most of the voice work is great, particularly Thor, Odin and the other inhabitants of Asgard. However, Loki is a weak link. Obviously, there was a meeting at some point which determined all intelligent villains had to have irritating and nasal voices. Filler characters such as Foster and various earthbound authority figures also lack sufficient personality to make their characters memorable.
The series is more like a motion comic than a full animated series, but is still a rather charming piece of work that will surely be of great interest to those who have strong feelings of nostalgia for the series. There are times where mouths move during dialogue-heavy sections and motion is hinted at, but mostly it’s a collection of frames, and once you get used to it, it’s barely noticeable.
Watching this animated series makes me appreciate further just what a great job Branagh and the screenwriters of the movie did with the material, as the emotional core of the sibling rivalry and father-son relationship aren’t greatly explored here, although I do appreciate that this was obviously made at a different time and intended for a different audience. Plus, there have been many further interpretations of the character in the years in between.
Whilst unlikely to appeal to everyone, it’s still a fine collection that shows early attempts at bringing one of the Marvel universe’s key characters to a mass audience. It features some wonderful animation by Jack Kirby, among others, as well as some fantastic music, including the memorable theme tune.
The formulaic nature of the first disc is made up for by the variety showcased on disc two, but even with that being the case, I’d say that this is one for fans only.
The Mighty Thoris out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.