About a year ago, I saw the film adaptation of Thor, and I did not like it very much. In fact, I found it to be an unfortunate but necessary piece of the larger puzzle that became The Avengers. I saw The Avengers Tuesday evening, and while enjoyable, it reminded me of the comparison I made between it and the logical reasoning portion of the Law School Admissions Test.
Here is some of what I had to say about necessity, sufficiency, and Thor:
When preparing for the Law School Admissions Test, one of the most important concepts to master is the difference between necessity and sufficiency. For a statement to be true, certain conditions need to be satisfied. Other conditions that might be satisfied are sufficient to assure the statement’s veracity but might not be required to confirm the statement.
Thor is necessary, but it is not sufficient. The Marvel Studios endgame is next year’s release of The Avengers, a cinematic adaptation of the superhero stable that includes—at a minimum—Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor. Since 2008′s Iron Man Marvel has been building toward The Avengers by steadily rolling out the members of the team in their own film. After all, when The Avengers unite early in the second act of next year’s bonanza, a little backstory could go a long way.
There is also the task of keeping tabs on each hero, love interest, sidekick, and post-credit scene that teases the next chapter in the franchise. With Thor, it was Jackson making his requisite appearance and introducing some mysterious device that offers “power, maybe unlimited.” Ooh, scary. This isn’t entertainment; it’s fucking work.
So scratch that tidbit in your notebook, it will surely come up next year when Marvel delivers The Avengers. If that movie is a stool, Thor is one of its legs—required for the finished product to stand, but ugly with splintered edges and too much paint. There can be no Avengers without Thor (a comic-book devotee would surely tell me here that there are less Nordic iterations of the stable), but as a piece it is quite lacking. But you have to see it anyway. And you have to see Captain America. And revisit the Iron Man series and The Incredible Hulk. How can you successfully take in The Avengers if you haven’t done your homework. Look for me at a screening next summer. I’ll be the one passing out cheat sheets.
To my surprise, I very much enjoyed The Avengers. I wouldn’t dare say it is an experience for Marvel newbies, but it is not the crowded soup I feared. I’ll post my fuller thoughts on the movie when it is released Friday.