There are two reasons to see movies: the first is to soak up somebody else’s air conditioning on a hot day, and the second is to look for Christological themes and ideas in movies. So with this in mind, I went to see Thor.
The main character Thor is in line to become king, but his arrogance and his thirst for blood put him at odds with his father who brought peace to their heavenly realm, Ardan. The conflict comes when Thor leads his brother and his four friends to another realm to investigate an attempted theft of their own realm. Thor’s actions proceed to draw the two realms to the brink of a massive war, which leads to him losing his powers, symbolized by his hammer (which conveniently has the sign of the Trinity on it), and being banished to earth.
On earth he befriends some humans, one of whom conveniently is a woman who investigates interactions with other worlds. To draw out the plot and contribute to conspiracy theories, there is also a secret government agency that investigates alien interactions.
While Thor is being investigated on earth, his brother is manipulating his way to the throne of Ardan and discovering dark secrets of his own past, and ultimately wants to kill Thor to secure his own power.
Thor must work his way to trust the humans he befriends and try to get back to Ardan and stop his brother’s evil intentions. In order to do this he must regain his powers. It is here that he must put to death his arrogant attitude and thirst for blood and realize that as a leader he must make sacrifices for the good of others. In a stunning Christ scene, Thor ‘dies’ protecting his earthly and Ardan friends who have come to get him back to defeat his evil brother. In this dying to protect his friends, Thor proves himself worthy, regains his power and ‘rises’ from the ‘dead’ to save his friends.
This is ultimately the downfall of the movie. Thor sins against his father and his realm of Ardan and is banished to earth, and must thereby save himself and pay for his own sins. This is quite the contrary to our Lutheran faith where we do not and in fact cannot, pay for our own sins, but it is instead Christ alone who atones for our sins for us and makes us acceptable to our heavenly Father.
By his ‘dying and rising’ Thor returns home and again proves his change by saving the very people he originally wanted to wipe out entirely by again sacrificing his own wants and desires to return to the woman on earth, for the good of others. He is ultimately reconciled to his father and proves himself mature enough to know that he has much to learn before he becomes king one day.
Like Thor, we are far from perfect characters, which tend to let our sinful tendencies to get the better of us before thinking through what exactly would be the best action to take. And so we are presented with opportunities to recognize our sinfulness, and occasionally will even have to suffer in order to be humbled in our sins. But unlike Thor, we cannot save ourselves no matter how hard we try. Thor raised himself out of the depths by performing sacrificial acts on behalf of others, whereas we have been raised by the one who came to sacrifices Himself on our behalf: our Savior, Jesus Christ.