Centuries before science was able to explain any observable phenomenon, most people resorted to mythological gods as an explanation. Everything from sickness, to natural disasters, to the movement of the sun across the sky was given a “logical” explanation via the all-powerful hands of gods. Of course, now we all know how our universe works and the idea of gods controlling each of these explainable phenomena seems ridiculous to us. Regardless of this, we still find the idea of mythological gods to be an entertaining one. They represent our dreams of unlimited power, but also highlight that even the most accomplished and powerful of individuals have flaws that can lead to their undoing. This week’s two films examine mythological gods as they appear in today’s modern movies.
Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours
If modern humanity has any mythological gods, they are most certainly confined to the pages of comic books. These are the characters that inspire us with their super-human strengths and skills. While some superheroes have more humble lives behind their masks (like Peter Parker in Spider-man (2002)), others have origin stories that herald from distant planets (like Kal-El in Superman (1978)). However, there is one superhero who has been pulled directly from his mythological source and placed into comic books. Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is merely one of many gods from this diverse and rich mythological background created by the Scandinavian natives who lived in northern Europe centuries ago. Recognizing the intriguing lore that resides in Norse legends, Marvel has capitalized on this with a trilogy of films centered around this god of thunder.
In Thor (2011), the eponymous god of thunder (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth) finds himself banished to Earth and stripped of his power because he decided to act out and attack the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. This is good news for Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the trickster god, because he has been vying for his father’s throne, despite not being a biological son to Odin (Anthony Hopkins). After regaining his powers and learning of his brother’s deception, Thor returns to Asgard to stop Loki’s plan by destroying the Bifröst Bridge that connects the nine realms. After Thor defeats his brother again in The Avengers (2012), the two of them team up to defeat the Dark Elves in Thor: The Dark World (2013). Later this year, the trilogy will be complete with Thor: Ragnarök (2017), wherein Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Norse goddess of death, could lead to the destruction of Asgard as we know it.
Wrath of the Titans
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours
Despite almost every ancient culture having their own set of mythological gods, there are only a handful that are well-known throughout popular culture. Aside from the aforementioned Norse mythology, there are gods from Greco-Roman mythology, Egyptian mythology, and Hindu mythology, just to name a few. Surprisingly enough, there have not been many films that focus on these myths and legends. Recently, Gods of Egypt (2016) has brought Egyptian gods to the big screen, much like its Stargate (1994) and The Mummy (1999) predecessors have done. In terms of the Greek myths, the Percy Jackson series has brought these familiar gods into the modern realm. However, holding true to the original timeframe of the myths, Clash of the Titans (2010) and its sequel, Wrath of the Titans (2012), have been the most recent CGI-fueled action films to portray these gods in their original context.
Years after the events of Clash of the Titans, Perseus (Sam Worthington) tries to live a simple life as a fisherman with his son, Helius (John Bell). Unfortunately, Zeus (Liam Neeson) appears and asks Perseus to help the gods prevent the reawakening of the Titan Kronos. After refusing his father’s plea, Perseus soon finds himself fighting the monsters that have erupted from Tartarus, now that the gods’ power has weakened. Meanwhile, Zeus and Poseidon (Danny Huston) have been betrayed by their brother, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who wants to make a deal with Kronos to maintain his immortality. Perseus has now teamed up with Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), the Princess he saved in Clash of the Titans, to collect the three gods’ weapons to form the Spear of Trium, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Kronos.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 mythological movies