I admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how good Thor is.
I shouldn't have been. The architects of the Marvel movie-verse (at least the Avengers side of it) haven't really let us down yet and their commitment to building a cinematic world that all of these beloved characters co-exist in. Beginning with Iron Man, it continued into The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. Thor and Captain America in a couple months complete the first phase before next year's Avengers bring them all together.
The best part of all this is that you don't need any real knowledge of the Marvel comic world or even the other films to appreciate each piece, much like how the original comics introduced all these diverse characters before bringing them together.
Thor has never been one of my favorite characters...a fantastical take on Norse mythology to fit into superhero parameters. He spoke in archaic "thous" and "verilys" and occasionally took on human form to mingle among us lower beings.
Thor the movie does an amazing job of taking a character that is vain and mighty and, well, pardon the pun, bringing him down to earth. When the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) makes a brash decision that puts their people and kingdom on the brink of war, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cast down to our realm, along with his magic hammer, Mjolnir, denied return until he is worthy. Meanwhile, his brother Loki schemes to control the kingdom of Asgard in his place.
While the world of the Asgardians and their blend of science and magic is fantastically realized and special effects brilliant, it's Thor's time on earth that sells the picture. The screenplay plays the fish out of water premise with successful wit and his relationship with Natalie Portman's Jane isn't mired down with romance.
Hemsworth has put a stamp on this character that makes it easy to imagine him alongside Robert Downey, Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson in Avengers. The big-screen Marvel Universe is becoming just as grand and exciting as Stan Lee imagined it on the four-color page decades ago.