Thor

Inciting Event: During the ceremony naming Thor heir to Asgard’s throne, Frost Giants invade the palace and nearly steal back their powerful casket. They are stopped by Odin’s golem. This is the first brush with the main conflict. Thor doesn’t reject it; indeed, he wants to rush into it headlong. But Odin rejects it for him, forbidding him from going to the Frost Giants home planet of Jodenheim and retaliating.

First Plot Point: After disobeying his father and attacking the Frost Giants, Thor is stripped of his power and banished to Earth—where he smashes into the van of astrophysicist Jane Foster, who is investigating the wormholes caused by the Bi-Frost. We can pretty much check off our list of First Plot Point need-to-haves right here: Thor is tossed out of the Normal World of the First Act, he enters the “adventure world” of the Second Act, he encounters the main conflict (how to get back home), and meets the last of the important characters (Jane, Eric, and Darcy).

First Pinch Point: Thor’s brother Loki learns he is, in fact, a Frost Giant, adopted by Odin. Odin falls into the Odinsleep, from which his family fears he may never awaken, and Loki must take the throne. Although Loki is not a clear antagonist at this point, his future is obviously ominous, causing these events to have a decided pinch. Note how Loki’s discovery of his parentage provides the new clues for the revelation here.

What this pinch point does not do, regrettably, is immediately effect the main plotline with Thor back on Earth. We do get a separate pinch point there, when SHIELD agent Coulson shows up and confiscates all of Jane’s equipment. Thor himself doesn’t feel this pinch either, although he will be affected by it thereafter, since it prompts Jane to risk taking him out the crash site where he hopes to find his hammer Mjolnir.

Midpoint: After confidently battling his way through SHIELD’s hastily erected compound, Thor is stunned to realize he cannot lift his hammer—due to his father’s proclamation that only someone “worthy” can lift it. This is really the low moment in his character arc, but it works surprisingly effectively this early. It’s such a huge Moment of Truth that he “gets it” quicker than we’d usually see. In his immediate humility after realizing why he can’t raise the hammer, we can see the glyph on the hammer’s side, indicating he is now worthy, although he doesn’t get a chance to try again.

Second Pinch Point: Loki returns to Jodeheim and strikes a deal with their king, Laufey (who is his own father, although Laufey doesn’t seem to know that). He promises to sneak Laufey into Asgard, if Laufey will kill the sleeping Odin—thus making Loki king.

Again, there isn’t a direct correlation between these actions and Thor’s immediate plotline. Neither is there a strong corresponding pinch point in Thor’s plotline.

Third Plot Point: When Loki sends the golem to kill Thor and lay waste to Earth, Thor sacrifices himself to his brother’s anger. The golem seems to turn away, pacified (false victory), only to turn back and strike Thor a mortal wound. Thor seemingly dies—only to have Mjolnir return to him and raise him back up.

In a story with a Midpoint that provides such a strong low point, how do you top that for the Third Plot Point? The obvious answer is always: death. Here Thor finally, fully, and literally dies to his old selfish self and is reborn to claim his new Truth.

Climax: Thor returns to Asgard to stop Loki—who has saved Odin from Laufey (both killing his own father and making himself out to be the hero of the day). Loki opens the Bi-Frost upon Jodenheim, in order to tear it apart. He and Thor do battle.

Climactic Moment: When Odin rejects Loki’s insistence that he did all of this for his family, Loki lets himself fall into a void, presumably dying.

Resolution: Thor apologizes to his father, and gets the gatekeeper Heimdall to tell him about what’s happened to Jane back on Earth.

Notes: This movie’s greatest strength? Its strong character arc. It’s greatest weakness? Its weak pinch points, which illustrate the overall discombobulation of Loki’s plotline back on Asgard and Thor’s on Earth.

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