by Matthew Turner
What do people want from Marvel superhero movies? (Sorry, DC fans –there’s only room in this blog post for one superhero universe). Looking beyond the obvious answers (super-powered fight scenes, spell-binding visual effects, compelling characters and entertaining stories) the makers of a superhero movie about a lesser-known character like Thor (or a pre Iron Man Iron Man) have to perform a complex juggling act. On the one hand they have to appease the existing (though in Thor‘s case, relatively few) fans of the comics, bearing in mind that with characters like Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, there’s almost 50 years of backstory to draw on (this isn’t the place to go into the Ultimate Marvel Universe but it’s worth noting that film-makers have so far steered clear of its rebooted and updated versions of the properties). On the other hand they have to introduce the character to a whole new audience (usually by way of an origin story) and hopefully launch a new money-making and sequel-generating franchise – basically, everyone wants another Iron Man, the enormous success of which has led directly to the upcoming Thor, Captain America and Avengers movies. Speaking of which, Thor director Kenneth Branagh had a third ball to juggle, in that he had to lay the groundwork for the upcoming The Avengers and provide significant crossover with both the Iron Man series and Captain America, establishing a Marvel universe continuity that isn’t wholly reliant on post-credits cameos from Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.