10 Things You Need To Know About The Marvel Universe Before Seeing Thor
With characters dating back to 1939, and decades of mythology and history, it’s pretty much an impossible task for Marvel Studios to explain every little detail in their films. If they did, the movies would be three hours long and one of the hours would be nothing but exposition. That said, with three movies released since 2008, they’ve done a pretty good job of explaining the stranger bits to those that choose not to read comics. Fortunately, we’re here to fill in some of the gaps.
Tomorrow Marvel Studio’s fourth film, Thor, hits theaters and, just as I did last summer when Iron Man 2 came out, I’ve decided to throw together a little instruction guide to help you understand the trickier details. Below you will find a list of ten items and people that/who may require a bit of explanation. Don’t know what the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division is? Not entirely sure what role Hawkeye plays? Then this article is for you
WARNING: This article also contains extremely minor spoilers for Thor, but does also fully describe the post-credits Easter Egg. That section of the article is clearly marked, but if you wish to avoid spoilers all together, turn back now.
Casket of Ancient Winters
How Does It Fit? In addition to having a flashback to the war between the Gods of Asgard and the Frost Giants, the Casket of Ancient Winters plays an incredibly vital part in the plot of Thor. At the start of the film, Frost Giant spies attempt to sneak into Odin’s trophy room and steal the Casket back. It is when Thor retaliates that he earns the scourge of Odin and is banished to Earth.
How Does He Fit? If you’re concerned that you’ve never heard of Hawkeye in this particular run of movies before now, don’t worry: Thor actually marks the character’s first appearance. First revealed in a clip released last month, Agent Coulson calls on Barton to try and control the situation when Thor breaks into the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound in order to retrieve Mjolnir, the hammer that can restore his powers. Situated high in a crow’s nest with his bow drawn, he awaits the call from the higher ups to let him know if he should fire.
How Does It Fit? At one point in the film the government agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (more on them later) breaks into the lab run by astrophysicist Jane Foster – played by Natalie Portman – and steals all of her research, believing that she may know something about the strange cloud formations over the New Mexico desert and the mysterious hammer buried in the ground. Trying to calm her down, Foster’s associate, Dr. Erik Selvig, played by Stellan Skarsgård, tells her that he knows a fellow scientist who works in gamma radiation that has previously dealt with S.H.I.E.L.D. and tells her that she will give him a call to see if he can help.
How Does It Fit? Unfortunately, this isn’t spelled out very well in the film, but it is definitely important. After years of putting off the Odinsleep, Odin actually ends up falling into a sleep so deep that there’s the potential he will never wake up. Having banished Thor to Earth until he learns the humility required of a king, Loki then takes the crown which, as you can probably guess, isn’t a positive thing.
Bifröst Bridge And The Nine Worlds
How Does It Fit? Lucky for you, one need not memorize all nine worlds in order to understand what’s going on in Thor, just three of them: Asgard, Midgard and Jotunheim. In the beginning of the film the Frost Giants try to retrieve the Casket of Ancient Winters from Asgard, which, in turn, leads Thor and his friends to lead an attack in Jotunheim for revenge. Because he broke the truce between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants, Thor’s father, Odin, takes way Thor’s power and banishes him to Midgard until he can learn humility.
How Does It Fit? After receiving word of a mysterious object in the New Mexico desert, the secret agency springs into action to isolate the object. Sending Agent Coulson (see below) in to head up the assignment, they have no idea what they’ve found, but do whatever they feel is necessary to find out.
How Does He Fit? Making his third appearance in a Marvel movie, the better question at this point is, “How does he not fit?” In the Easter Egg after the credits in Iron Man 2, Coulson pulls up to a large crater in the New Mexico desert. At the center of said crater? Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor. Viewing the mysterious hammer’s presence as exceedingly peculiar, Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. build a compound around it. All seems well… until Thor comes to claim what is rightfully his.
How Does It Fit? Unlike in The Incredible Hulk, where Downey Jr. actually made a cameo appearance, Stark is only mentioned in passing in Thor. After Loki sends The Destroyer – an enchanted piece of armor – down to Earth, Agent Coulson and some other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents meet up with it in the desert. One of the agents turns to Coulson to inquire if the armor belongs to Tony Stark. His response? “I don't know. That guy never tells me anything.”
How Does He Fit? Remember that spoiler warning about the post-credits Easter Egg I warned you about? Well, don’t read on if you don’t want to know. After the credits roll, we see Dr. Selvig walking down into a dark basement where he is greeted by none-other-than the S.H.I.E.L.D. director himself. Fury has called on Selvig to help him understand a relic that they have found and have been protecting: the Cosmic Cube. The problem? Selvig isn’t who he appears to be.
The Cosmic Cube
How Does It Fit? As mentioned above, the Cosmic Cube first appears in Thor during the Easter Egg after the credits, where it is shown by Col. Nick Fury to Dr. Selvig. What Fury is unaware of is that Selvig is, in fact, being controlled by Loki. The scene sets up the events of The Avengers, in which Loki has been confirmed as the villain.
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