Myth, Comic Books, and THOR!

I just read the following blog post by Word on Fire’s Fr. Steve:

http://www.wordonfire.org/WoF-Blog/WoF-Blog/May-2011/Film-The-Conspirators-Theory-Not-So-Mighty-Thor.aspx

I must admit that I was rather dissapointed with Fr. Barron’s comments about Thor (I have not seen the Conspirators, nor even knew it existed as a movie until I read the blog, so this post refers only to Thor).

The movie Thor is about, you guessed it, the mythical god Thor!  Yet this is the myth in comic book form, taking on the comic book storylines that were built up by the genius of Stan Lee.  That is a sufficient starting off point, so let’s now talk about myth!

You may feel that is an odd segue, to speak about myth in the same context of comic books, but it is, I believe, quite logical to speak about them in the same breath for they, in the end, have the same end in mind and the same means for bringing about this end.  The end of myth is to address the human condition in all it’s mystery.  The means by which speaks of this is that, through sensationalized narrative, the true elements of the human condition are brought forth in a spectacular, magical way by non-human and, usually, magical means. 

When you think about it, then, comic books are really no more than the modern day myth. (*I give credit to the insight with a friend with whom I conversed about this last week over lunc and coffee).  Thus we see in these comic books the great trials and tribulations of the human condition.  This is why I find it difficult to appreciate comic books that are not extraordinary, or comic-book style films.  I appreciated, for example, Kick-Ass, though it did disturb me as well.  But what I appreciated about the movie is how the main characters attempted to promote sensational storylines in their lives, but they did not have in themselves the sensational powers to reach such an achievement.  The main character was only able to reach success with the finding of a sensational item that brought justice in the end. 

So for comic books, we allow things to be accentuated, overly dramatized, so that in a way the human condition shines forth in these specifically non human characters.

And this brings me to the appreciation I had for Thor.  In it there are great themes about sacrifice, honour, truth, justice, evil, hunger for power, how maturity is achieved, scapegoat mechanisms (I can’t help be refer to Girard’s work when it comes to myth), etc.  Furthermore, there was, to my recollection, no swearing, no sexualization, not even any blood, though there obviously was violence (with which, I must admit, I am very much ok with because it speaks to th realism of the human condition).

I really do recommend to movie, to seek out the myths and the themes in the story.  There are things that are rushed in the movie, it is not perfect, but it is in the great tradition of the first couple of Spider Mans where the great themes of humanity are pursued in a sensationalized manner. 

On a personal note, do not bother with the 3-D version.  I had to see it in 3-D because it was the only version our theater was offering.  But, in general, I have never enjoyed the 3-D experience because I find the glasses interfere with my full immersion into the storyline.  If you can, avoid 3-D at all costs. 

In the Risen Christ

-Harrison

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