Tagged: Asgard

Natalie Portman and Marvel Promote Science Careers for Women

Natalie Poretman Thor The Dark WorldBURBANK, CA – October 1, 2013 – SEEKING THE NEXT JANE FOSTER!  In MARVEL’S THOR: THE DARK WORLD, Academy Award® winner Natalie Portman portrays astrophysicist Jane Foster, an independent spirit who follows her heart and journeys to a new world.

Marvel Studios, UL (Underwriters Laboratories), Dolby Laboratories, National Academy of Science, Girl Scouts USA along with the famous El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, are proud to team up to sponsor a nationwide MARVEL’S THOR: THE DARK WORLD ULTIMATE MENTOR ADVENTURE in conjunction with the November 8th release of the film starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman.

MARVEL’S THOR: THE DARK WORLD ULTIMATE MENTOR ADVENTURE aims to empower girls 14 years and up, in grades 9 – 12 nationwide, to embark on a journey to discover their potential and future in the world of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Through the collaborative efforts of Marvel, UL (Underwriters Laboratories), Dolby Laboratories, National Academy of Sciences and Girl Scouts USA, girls will have a chance to go out into the real world and ask successful women in STEM fields about what they do, how they got where they are…and how others can follow in their footsteps.  The process is designed to help students to understand who they are, and why this experience can be impactful on their futures. For more information, rules and how to apply, visit www.ultimatementoradventure.com.

“MARVEL’S THOR: THE DARK WORLD ULTIMATE MENTOR ADVENTURE is a chance to inspire a generation and by doing so, to change their future –and ours – for the better,” said Victoria Alonso, EVP, Visual Effects & Post Production, Marvel Studios.

Finalists of MARVEL’S thor: the dark world ultimate mentor adventure will win

a week’s trip to Southern California, provided by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and Dolby Laboratories. The Ultimate Mentor Adventure will allow the girls to meet some of the most incredible Women in Science such as Dolby Laboratory Senior Scientists, conducting interviews and be challenged to participate in experiments. It will also include interactive events and go behind-the-scenes where the general public is not normally invited – all while having their adventure filmed. On Friday, November 8th, the winners will conclude their excursion and be recognized at the Premiere Screening of their Ultimate Mentor Adventure documentary short.  The video short will be shown at the El Capitan Theatre prior to a screening of MARVEL’S THOR: THE DARK WORLD in Dolby® Atmos™ on opening day.

About the Movie

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. To defeat an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor sets upon his most dangerous and personal journey yet, forced into an alliance with the treacherous Loki to save not only his people and those he loves…but our universe itself.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World is directed by Alan Taylor, produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., from a story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat and screenplay by Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and is based on Marvel’s classic Super Hero Thor, who first appeared in the comic book Journey into Mystery #83 in August, 1962.

Thor: The Dark World is presented by Marvel Studios. The executive producers are Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Craig Kyle, Alan Fine, Nigel Gostelow and Stan Lee. The film releases November 8, 2013, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

MIKE GOLD: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Well, I suppose it was inevitable.

After all, the American Nazis objected to Heimdall being played by a black man in last year’s Thor movie. To swing 180 degrees in the opposite direction, many Asian groups objected to the casting of a European in the role of a Eurasian in the play Miss Saigon. They felt that the part should have gone to an Asian and not to a Eur.

There are numerous examples of this, and some attracted justifiable outrage. I’m not too certain about the Miss Saigon thing: the character is Eurasian but Asians are woefully underrepresented on western stages. The Thor thing is just completely stupid: Heimdall is Asgardian and not Teutonic, and the American Nazis are assholes.

Several thousand white actors have been cast as American Indians in several hundred (at least) motion pictures, and that’s simply wrong. We should have grown out of that, yet for the past several years I’ve been involved in a comics project that stars an American Indian lead but has been “unsellable” to Hollywood because they “can’t find” an acceptable American Indian actor. Besides, there are none who could carry a movie.

So I’m not surprised to see the beginnings of … let’s say discomfort … at the casting of a British actor in the lead role of this summer’s Man of Steel. Truth, Justice, and the American Way, right? Superman lives in Metropolis, which is in or near Kansas, and you can’t get more American than that, right? Hollywood is pushing its internationalist agenda down our throats again, right?

Well, no. That’s not right. Superman is not American, he’s Kryptonian. Clark Kent is American, but he’s not the guy referred to in the title Man of Steel. Clark Kent is a disguise. Kal-El is Superman, and he wasn’t born here.

In fact, he’s an illegal immigrant.

I don’t get bent out of shape over characters not being portrayed by actors of the same nationality or race. It’s called “acting.” Look it up in the dictionary. Should only white people be cast as characters originally conceived as white people? Tell that to Jeffrey Wright. James Bond wasn’t born in Scotland, but Sean Connery was. Johnny Depp is playing Tonto, and that’s just too weird to be right or wrong.

And Kabuki? Hello – men playing all the female roles? Orson Welles cast himself in the lead role in Othello and then he cast black actors in all the other roles in Shakespeare’s ditty, and then they performed Othello in Harlem!


The fault of extremist thinking on both sides is that people jump at the symptoms and ignore the issues. The real issue is the underrepresentation of minorities in our media, and that’s an issue that is slowly being addressed. Should we never make a Charlie Chan movie ever again because white actors had played the Hawaiian detective, most notably a performer from Sweden. But nobody complains about the current incarnation of Hawaii 5-O even though the two Hawaiian detectives in that show are played by actors of Korean descent.

Grow up and let actors act. And let’s level the casting stage. Right now.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


MINDY NEWELL: O, Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!

The Christmas tree. Big, small, authentic or fake, the object of worship at Rockefeller Center for New Yorkers and tourists, the spindly little tree that Charlie Brown adopts, and always, always, beautiful, I do hope you know that the evergreen tree (fir, spruce, or pine) didn’t grow in the hot, dry, climate of Bethlehem and Nazareth. (But the Egyptians did have a midwinter rite – see below.)

Courtesy of The History Channel and my fascination with pre-Judeo-Christian religions – I’ve delved a little bit into Wicca – here’s a brief history of our favorite symbol of the season, the Christmas tree.

For centuries in Europe and England, before the introduction of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people. To ward off the ghosts, witches, and evil spirits, they made wreaths of, and hung branches from, the fir trees that were “ever green.” During the winter months, as the days shortened and the world became dark and cold, it was believed that the sun god had turned their face from them. On the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, the people would celebrate the return of the sun god, dancing in a sacred circle around a chosen evergreen tree (fir, spruce, pine) and light fires to bring back the light.

By the way, fellow comic geeks, in the Germanic and Scandinavian regions, the tree was called Thor’s Oak. Hey, Marvel, how about a Christmas Special featuring the tree and the Asgaardian?

Another origin has been proposed for our favorite Christmas image, that of the “Tree of Paradise,” which was used in the medieval plays performed on Christmas Eve to tell the story of Adam and Eve. It was decorated with apples – some say pomegranates – to represent the forbidden fruit, and Eucharist wafers to represent God’s deliverance; later on, in the 16th century, the Germans began placing the trees inside their homes, and the apples were replaced by shiny red balls.

So what were they doing at this time of year in the Fertile Crescent of the Mediterranean? Well, the Egyptians prayed to the Sun god, Ra, who would annually come near to death as the winter progressed. On the day of the solstice, when the sun – Ra – began to strengthen, the Egyptians would bring the green leaves of the palm trees into their homes, which symbolized Ra’s victory over death. (Hmm…palm leaves. Eternally green. Symbols of another resurrection one that is central to the Christian faith.)

The Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the winter solstice, in honor of Saturn, the god of farming and agriculture, because they knew the shortest day also marked the return of spring and summer, when the land would be fertile once again.  The Saturnalia, by the way, was converted to Christmas, to mark the birth of Jesus by the Emperor Constantine, after he experienced a vision and ordered the conversion of all Roman citizens to Christianity. (And did you know that Biblical forensic astronomers believe that Jesus was actually born in the spring, according to the position of the stars at that time?) Anyway, the Romans also marked the Saturnalia by adorning Saturn’s temples and their own homes with branches of the evergreen trees that grew in that region.

The Celts of England, Ireland, and areas of northern Europe also celebrated the winter solstice with evergreen trees, to them also a symbol of eternal life. They would select a tree about which they danced, and lit bonfires to encourage the dark gods to leave.

When did the Christmas tree as we know first appear in America? Well, the Puritans – of Thanksgiving fame – felt that Christian worship had become frivolous and full of pagan rites. They believed that Christmas was a sacred, awesome – not as in “Awesome, bro!” but in its original meaning of “God-fearing and awe-inspiring” – outlawed the celebration of Christmas with trees, and even carols; those who dared were put in the stocks or worse!

The Germans, especially those who settled mostly in Pennsylvania, are credited with bringing the Christmas tree to America in the mid-19th century, but most Americans of the time were still heavily influenced by their Puritan roots, and believed the tree was a pagan symbol and refused to raise one either in their communities or their homes

Then, in 1846, Queen Victoria of Great Britain and her German-born consort, Prince Albert, appeared in the Illustrated London News celebrating Christmas with a tree. Like Anglophiles today who faithfully follow the affairs of the Windsors – and comic fans who believe that only the Brits know how to write comics – anything that came from across the pond was immediately declared fashionable and de rigueur.

O, Tannenbaum, O, Tannebaum!

And now for my weekly political comment:

If you watch either Jon Stewart on The Daily Show or Bill O’Reilly on The Factor, you know those two are at their annual “The War on Christmas” shenanigans, with Stewart poking fun – and getting pissed off – at one of O’Reilly’s favorite topics, as he rages against the ridiculous, “pinheaded” political correctness of the season.

And you know what? I totally agree with O’Reilly on this one. Oh, not on his overblown rhetoric – although that’s O’Reilly’s raison de guerre – but essentially, I believe he’s absolutely dead on regarding this one. The celebration of Christmas is an American rite of passage, which should be holy and sacred to those of the Christian faiths, but more often, these days, a commemoration of that other American religion – buying on credit and going into debt.

War on Christmas? Who’re you kidding, Mr. O’Reilly?

Next week: My Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza shopping suggestions.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers

From the beginning in Journey into Mystery, Thor’s arch enemy has been his foster brother Loki, which Stan Lee lifted directly from the Norse myths. Loki, god of mischief, was an infant when Odin slew his father and took the child to raise as his own. Much of the Norse mythology tells stories of Loki’s schemes and trickery among the gods of Asgard, a rivalry with Thor clear. Stan, Larry Leiber, and Jack Kirby didn’t real mine the sibling relationship in those early years; it had to fall to other writers who added sophisticated psychological thinking to the relationships of gods.

One such rumination of that relationship was Robert Rodi’s 2004 [[[Loki]]] miniseries. Released under the Marvel Knights imprint, it echoed the core Marvel Universe’s interpretation of the characters but offered up entirely fresh takes on the characterizations and look of the deities. Painter Esad Ribic eschewed Kirby’s science fiction-blended imagery and costuming in favor of a look the Norse themselves would have recognized. About the only things shared between the two universes was Loki’s horned helmet and Thor’s blond hair.

Rodi picked up the story some time after Loki triumphed as has enslaved not only his “brother”, but all who would oppose him including Odin, Balder, and Sif. The weight of rule grew heavy on the trickster, who found no mirth from the throne. He was unhappy and unmoved by the forces that demanded his time and attention including Norn Queen Karnilla and Hela, ruler of Hel. The story is strong, aided by Ribic’s powerful artwork in its somber tones.

To promote the forthcoming Thor movie, Marvel turned the miniseries into a four-part motion comic, [[[Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers]]], which was released throughout the spring. Now, the adaptation is being released on Tuesday by Shout! Factory. They have not been edited together into a seamless whole so each chapter comes complete with opening and closing credits which can be tedious. Worse, this is being marketed as an animated project when it is most definitely a motion comic. (more…)

DENNIS O’NEIL: Universal Upheaval!

So the universe upheaved and a gap appeared in time and here we are, at the far end of that gap. (Or the near end, if we’re looking backwards. But never mind.) We’ve again grubbed residence in Comicmixland and vowed to deliver weekly blather.

But, with a deep bow to Bill Maher, we have new rules—or to be exact, just rules, since when I last did this nobody mentioned rules, though I did promise Mike Gold and myself to do at least 500 words per installment, lest I be mistaken for a carbuncle. The 500 word deal still holds, but Mike has added a new proviso; subject matter should be somehow related to comics.

Pretty draconian, huh?

Actually, Mike’s edict doesn’t much close any doors. First, a lot is happening in comics and related media per se and, second, virtually everything in our media-drenched, perpetual-news-cycling global civilization is connected. Always has been. Really. Remember the butterfly effect: The sumbitch flapping around a garden in Tokyo today will cause your hat to blow off next Tuesday and the breath I just took may have contained an atom that was once part of Cleopatra. (And, more painfully, the monetary crisis in Greece may bump your mortgage.) And we all come from the same place, out there among the stars in the baby cosmos.

So yeah, the world is a vast network of interconnections, and it’s a lot easier to see that now that it was a century ago. It shouldn’t be much of a rhetorical trick to write about comics and still acknowledge that other things exist, and are worthy our notice.

(I wonder: could you have a comprehensive knowledge of comics, beginning with [[[The Yellow Kid]]] and ending with…oh, I dunno – Chris Claremont’s run on [[[X-Men]]]? – could you know that and be ignorant of the history of the United States in the Twentieth Century? Maybe not.)

But where to begin?

Well, this week, nowhere. I’ve already burned away 329 of those 500 words and unless I want to content myself with knocking off a few haiku, there isn’t much room left for pontificating. But next week? Hey, this has been called the summer of the superhero movie, hasn’t it? And although I haven’t seen all of the films in question, and probably won’t in the next seven days (Thor has already hammered back to Asgard, which I think is somewhere just off Sunset Boulevard, and is not available for viewing) but doesn’t utter ignorance of my subject qualify me as a pundit? Darn right! And what’s happening behind the cameras—the changes in management—is worth a bit of uninformed opinionating, too.

A final note: In the previous incarnation of this feature, and in a comic book that the aforementioned Mike Gold and I worked on a couple of decades past, we recommended books we thought might amuse our readers. I’d like to continue recommending reading, but not every week, just when I come across something I think will be of particular interest to y’all.

Happy trails…

FRIDAY… Martha Thomases

Mee the Animated Asgardians

Mee the Animated Asgardians

Last year, we got a glimpse of Thor: Tales of Asgard, which looked incredibly promising as an animated feature film. Lionsgate is released the film, at long last, direct-to-DVD on Tuesday, while everyone has Norse gods on the mind. For those less familiar with the comic, they have provided a slideshow to introduce audiences to the cast of characters, ranging from Thor, his foster brother Loki, Allfather Odin, the fierce Sif, the valiant Warriors Three, Amora the Enchantress and the legendary Frost Giants, among others.


Here are the product details:



He’s waged battles in Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, Next Avengers and Hulk Vs., and now one of the most beloved characters in the Marvel Universe is ready to strike out on his own this May. See the young “God of Thunder” as Marvel Animation and Lionsgate Home Entertainment team up to release Thor: Tales of Asgard! Hitting Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand on May 17, 2011, the newest Marvel Animated Feature is the perfect companion to the May 6th release of the live-action theatrical film Thor. The title builds on the strength of more than 40 years and 10 million copies of Thor comics, and the timelessness of The Mighty Thor to create a truly epic adventure that both lifelong fans and those new to the story will love. Packed with special features such as audio commentaries with the film creators, a “making-of” featurette plus a bonus TV episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Thor: Tales of Asgard will come to Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD for $29.99 and $19.98, respectively.


Before he ever lifted his mighty hammer, there was the sword. Fantastic journeys beckon from the mysterious nine realms. Places of dark mists and fiery voids. Of winged creatures and giants in the ice. And the most alluring quest of all – the search for the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur. Hungry for adventure, Thor secretly embarks on the journey of a lifetime, joined by his loyal brother Loki, whose budding sorcery equips him with just enough magic to conjure up trouble, along with the Warriors Three – a band of boastful travelers reluctant to set sail on any adventure that might actually be dangerous. But what starts out as a harmless treasure hunt quickly turns deadly, and Thor must now prove himself worthy of the destiny he covets by saving Asgard itself.


• Audio commentary with Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and Screenwriter Greg Johnson

• Audio commentary with Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Animation Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Phil Bourassa

• “Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard” featurette

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Bonus Episode from the new hit TV series


Review: “Thor”

Review: “Thor”

Chris Hemsworth as Thor as depicted in the upc...

Image via Wikipedia

For a Marvel movie geek, three things were inevitable about Thor: 1) The Stan Lee cameo scene, 2) the post-end credits scene, and 3) nitpicking. Nitpicking is going to happen with any comic book related movie, and I’ve grudgingly accepted it as a necessary evil that certain sacrifices would need to be made in any translation of a story from one medium to another. Thus, certain things will have to be overlooked IF the end result is successful.

Marvel’s version of Thor in its many incarnations has tread a delicate balance of Norse mythology and something flashy thanks to Jack Kirby’s glorious art. In Kenneth Branagh’s movie adaptation of Thor, there are elements of the Prodigal Son, Arthurian mythology, and of course, grounding in Marvel history.

For his arrogance and defiance of his father Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins), King of otherworldly Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stripped of his considerable power and warhammer Mjolnir and banished to Earth. Making matters worse, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is beginning to discover things about himself, and let’s say he starts some trouble, now that Odin is in a coma. While on earth, Thor is tricked into believing that his father is dead (and three guesses as to who tricked him).

There was the requisite love interest in Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a scientist investigating atmospheric anomalies. As with recent Marvel movies, the shadowy government agency SHIELD was behind the scenes, and this being a Summer movie, there was the requisite amount of wholesale property damage.

While formulaic, Thor is refreshingly entertaining. Comic book movies rely heavily upon reverence for and adherence to the source material. The result must look and more importantly feel like the comic books. Kenneth Branagh’s Thor succeeds and entertains although the progression from arrogant bastard to superhero wasn’t deep enough, and I could have done without Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), Dr. Jane Foster’s ultra-annoying assistant.

If you still have no idea what the movie’s about, here’s a brief featurette:

ComicMix Six: The Best Major Battles of THOR!

This week, [[[Thor]]] comes to theaters! With a director like Kenneth Branagh, stars such as Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins, and rave reviews happening from advanced screenings, many fans old and new can’t wait for this latest film from Marvel Studios and Paramount. It stars Thor, god of thunder, who in the Marvel Universe divides his time between living in Asgard, traveling through other dimensions, and acting as a superhero on Earth.

Over the years, Thor’s had some pretty epic adventures. So let’s take a look at six tales that any new Thor fan should check out.


Thor vol. 1 #145-153

For his impudence, Thor is banished to Earth without his powers. As he continues to act as a superhero as best he can, Thor’s allies plead to Odin, the All-Father, to return his son’s full abilities. This story keeps building up the stakes as Thor’s sometimes lover and constant ally Sif inhabits the powerful Destroyer armor. Meanwhile, Loki arrives to make another bid for power and Ulik the troll shows up to cause more trouble. Elsewhere, Hela, goddess of death, watches and waits. An epic storyline that highlights both Thor and Don Blake as heroes and is a classic tale of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby days.

Reprinted in “Essential Thor, Vol. 3”