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Warning: spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War are in play. If you haven't seen the film yet, and don't want to find out any of the finer plot points, please bookmark this item and come back once you've seen the film.
Throughout his own trilogy of films, the character of Chris Hemsworth's Thor has at best been a comedic jokester and at worst a meat-headed warrior who didn't really get to be much of a lead character. That's nothing against Hemsworth's abilities, as those first two Thor movies had problems with being too serious for his character, leaving the third to over correct just a little in the way of comedy. But finally, Avengers: Infinity War managed to take Thor Odinson and turn him into a well-balanced character, netting him the trophy of the Most Improved Avenger in the film. In fact, I'd argue Infinity War is the first time Marvel gets Thor just right.
While the character has always been a fun inclusion in the Avengers lineup, making wisecracks in-between hammer throws, Thor as an individual has not always been that captivating of a person -- at least beyond his hammer-wielding abilities. That began to change with the overly funny Thor: Ragnarok, but it really hits home not too long after Avengers: Infinity War opens its action, with Thor not only being forced to faced down the loss of his species, but also the departure of his friend, Heimdall, and his adopted brother, Loki. So, by the end of the cold open for this third Avengers movie, we see the prince of Asgard beginning a journey of introspection that's been long overdue.
After seeing the man who could swing a hammer and save the world lose everything between Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War's opening moments, to see Chris Hemsworth get to actually break all of that down on screen is a damned treat. We still get some fantastic moments of humor, especially with Thor triggering some massive insecurity with Star-Lord and a sense of awe with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but the real meat of Thor's quest is in his quest for a Thanos killer on the planet of Nidavellir.
The quest itself is Thor's way of trying to build himself back up after the most devastating losses, and Hemsworth is most certainly game for that. Watching him talk things out with Rocket Raccoon was a quiet moment that pays off in the best way possible when he ultimately forges and uses Stormbreaker. After losing everything, Thor is severely desperate to get back in the saddle and be a hero again, only this time it's not out of youthful impulse. Paying close attention to his conversation with Rocket, you can see a bit more of the age and wisdom in his person, particularly due to the fact that Chris Hemsworth seems to have adopted more of the tone and mannerisms of Anthony Hopkins' Odin. We've seen the son become the father, and now he is ready to become the hero he was always meant to be.
All of this character development crystallizes in the moment when Thor himself holds open the iris of Eitri's forge, as he's ready to give everything in a last ditch effort to defeat Thanos. It's a revenge quest, most certainly, but rather than being blindly driven to succeed through an emotional fog, Thor seems to have learned the lessons he should have learned throughout all of his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There's no sub-par romance to distract him, nor is his journey an overly colorful gag-fueled spectacle. It's the birth of a true hero, forged in pain and sacrifice, delivering one hell of a satisfying blow with a brand new ax of justice.
Seeing Thor evolve into the character he's become in Avengers: Infinity War has finally proven that the last son of the Asgardian dynasty is someone that has more depth than most fans have given him credit for. Fulfilling the more dramatic promise that's always been hinted at with the character, the team behind this monumental film have given Chris Hemsworth material in the MCU that's finally used the acting chops he's expressed in films outside of his tenure in the comic realm. That alone has us anxious to see how that development pays off in Avengers 4, as well as has me hoping he can get at least one more film to close his arc out the right way -- with a wise and battle-worn Thor holding court over a potentially resurrected Asgard.
Avengers: Infinity War is currently in theaters, ready for you to give Thor another chance.
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