In my past twelve years of writing, I have at times caused some controversy by taking an unpopular position on a delicate topic. Today though, I will abandon all caution and will leap headfirst into one of the greatest controversies of the 21st Century.
While I know I may receive spiteful comments, hate mail, and even threats against my life, I am going to boldly take a stance on a topic which has no doubt ended friendships, wrecked marriages, and divided families across the world.
As you have no doubt guessed by now, I am speaking of the controversy over which is the greatest superhero movie of all time. With the courage that comes from knowing I am right, I hereby give the coveted “Nicholas Kaminsky Best Superhero Movie Award” to Thor.
“Thor?” you ask. “What makes Thor the best superhero movie?”
I answer, “Everything.”
To show you what I mean, I’m going to compare Thor to my runner-up, Captain America. (Be warned, there are spoilers ahead, though you definitely should have seen both these movies by now).
To begin with, Thor was directed by Kenneth Branagh, whose background is in Shakespeare. This background definitely shows, both in Thor and in many of his other movies. Let’s just say that he’s no Michael Bay. Some of his films don’t even contain robots or explosions.
In addition to its excellent director, Thor is also blessed with superior acting, very pleasing visual imagery, and a great soundtrack.
Despite all of these positive elements, it’s in the storyline itself that Thor really flies ahead of its competition. While I also loved the original Captain America movie, I definitely found Thor to be the greater hero.
Consider the following two contrasts:
1.) Captain America is the story of a young man who is noble and good-hearted but physically weak. Throughout the course of the movie, he gains strength and stamina through scientific experimentation, allowing him to be the hero he always was at heart. Thor, by contrast, starts out with plenty of physical strength, but he’s also kind of a jerk. He’s very disrespectful to his father, he lives to fight, and he always needs to be in the limelight. His transformation into a hero is a spiritual rather than physical one, and it comes about by his being deprived of his physical powers.
2.) In both Captain America and Thor, emphasis is placed on sacrifice. At the end of the Captain America movie, Steve Rogers sacrifices himself in order to save his country and the lives of its people. This is incredibly noble of him and marks him as an ideal soldier. In Thor, however, the title character does something even more heroic. He sacrifices his own personal happiness in order to save the lives of his enemies. He gives up any future chance of seeing the woman he loves in order to rescue the frost giants he was so intent on killing at the movie’s beginning.
While it may cost me half my friends, I’m going to argue Thor is a better hero movie than even Captain America for the reason that a change in spirit is more difficult—and therefore more impressive—than a change in physical fitness. More importantly though, Thor is better for sacrificing himself to save something he recently hated than Captain America is for sacrificing himself to save something he always loved.