The trailer for Thor promised epic camp the likes of which hasn't been seen since Flash Gordon and a lot of it looked like they probably would not work for a second.
Frost giants? Yeah that won't be silly at all...
And yet there I was, witnessing Norse Gods in shiny gold armour riding horses along a glass rainbow bridge, taking it all in and not even batting an eye. The entertainment value of the whole thing was such that I could easily go "nothing wrong here" and suspend my disbelief like I've never done before to accommodate this ridiculous, yet somewhat irresistible mythological superhero epic.
For one thing, Asgard looks amazing: this is Marvel on a grand scale and, upon its release, it was probably the most ambitious superhero film ever made. Yes, when you take a step back it's like: "what is all this?" but if you allow yourself to go with it, you'll just love this visual feast. It's almost a shame Thor has to go to Earth, especially since both Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings are waiting for him with their "Oh my God!", their "This is going on Facebook!" and their "They even took my iPod!". Yes, they are this insufferable.
That said, Chris Hemsworth pulls off the tough, stubborn Thor brilliantly and he looked set to be one of the most fun things about The Avengers, which he was. Tom Hiddleston's Loki is a fitting Shakespearian villain and Anthony Hopkins, as ever, does intimidating and over-the-top effortlessly. Director Kenneth Branagh does surprisingly well to make the impossible sound almost convincing and shows that even the silliest material can be made to work. And Thor being the biggest anomaly in The Avengers in that he's basically an alien, the fact that they made this solo film work and then made him blend with the rest of the superteam this well is nothing short of a near-miracle, a welcome one.
Some will feel a tad alienated by the out-there nature of the material and those uninitiated to Marvel's heroes will leave the cinema feeling no doubt a little bit confused. Everyone else will have a ball with this slight yet effective first Thor outing.
A pleasant surprise.