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Cosmic enfant terrible Thor (Chris Hemsworth) shows up the grand throne room of Asgard to claim the title of heir and generally bask in the soft glow of his own ego. He's a god, after all, and as such can do all kinds of cool things… like bash people with a magic hammer only he can lift, fly around by grabbing the hammer's handle, and treat tank shells like mosquito bites in true superhero fashion.
All Asgardians have some of these powers but Thor is, um, blonde. Also, he's the son of the king: one day, the big chair will be his
His celebration's ruined by an attack by a small group of frost giants, who are after a Mystic Glowy Box down in the vaults. Thor proceeds to throw a gigantic snit and demands blood, which his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) expressly forbids. Thor doesn't speak Expressly Forbidden, so he and his buddies take an unannounced visit to the frost giant realm of Jotunheim to bust some heads.
Heads are, indeed, busted… but whoopsie: it looks like they started a full-blown war.
Needless to say, Odin's very disappointed in his son. And by disappointed, we mean furious. Thor gets a one-way trip to Earth—powers gone—along with his hammer Mjolnir, which he can no longer lift.
He arrives in New Mexico and is promptly flattened by a Jeep driven by devastatingly gorgeous astrophysicist (and really is there any other kind?) Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
She's out in the desert looking for evidence of wormholes… which Thor provides when he drops in unexpectedly. She drops him off at the hospital, where he's sedated and tied to the bed (he's a little cranky). Luckily for him, he knows how to slip out of cuffs.
Jane, who goes back to studying the phenomenon that brought Thor to our world, actually spots his teeny little form in a computer image of her data, then comes back to the hospital to ask, essentially, "seriously dude, what's up with you in the middle of this cosmic super-tunnel?"
So it's back to the hospital for Jane, running Thor over again and then taking him out for a little breakfast. Thor's happy to consume far more pancakes than perhaps is healthy, but when he hears word that his hammer has landed a short distance away, he loses all interest in breakfast flapjacks.
Jane's companions are skeptical of Thor's actual godhood—it's much more likely that he's just nuts—and convince Jane not to give him a lift to his hammer. Jane changes her mind after the super-secret government organization SHIELD arrives and takes all of her stuff. Jane offers Thor a lift to the hammer's location—now crawling with SHIELD agents—in exchange for getting her research back.
Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Thor's brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) discovers that he is adopted and has it out with Odin. Papa Asgard is so upset by the exchange that he falls into Odinsleep, leaving Loki free to cackle maniacally on the throne.
Thor arrives at the hammer site and busts some heads, but—still not worthy enough to carry the hammer—gets nowhere. After a suitably epic temper tantrum, he's taken into custody by SHIELD, who ask a lot of questions he's not inclined to answer. Loki appears in super sneaky mode to tell him that Odin's dead and that he has to stay in exile. Thor, contrite and humble, agrees to stay put.
Jane's colleague Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) springs Thor from SHIELD custody by making up a story that no one believes, basically: "He's a fitness nut, medical doctor and astrophysicist who is supper cranky that you took all our stuff."
Yeah, we didn't buy it either, but SHIELD's interested in playing it out, so they let him go… and tail the two of them as they head for the nearest bar.
They get drunk and Erik asks Thor to stay away from Jane, since he still thinks Thor is crazy. Thor, having admitted that he doesn't know anything about anything, agrees, though he kind of breaks his promise by first drinking Erik under the table, then taking him back to Jane's trailer to sleep it off. He gives Jane her notebook, which he swiped from the hammer site, and tells her all about the universe as his people see it.
Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Loki cuts a deal with the frost giants to let them slay Odin as he sleeps, while Thor's Asgard friends plot to return him from exile. They convince Heimdall the gatekeeper (Idris Elba) to send them to Earth, to which Loki responds by unleashing the deadly space robot the Destroyer to settle Thor's hash once and for all.
Thor's buddies meet up with Thor to tell him the skinny on Asgard, just as the Destroyer arrives.
Thor's companions put up a good struggle, but they're outclassed and the Destroyer continues its rampage unabated. Thor comes up with a keen idea to stop it: offer himself as a sacrifice to Loki in exchange for leaving anyone else alone. Loki obliges: knocking Thor's mortal butt into next week and letting him die in Jane's arms.
Luckily for him, self-sacrifice is exactly what he needs to get his mojo back. Hammer: heading straight for his face. God: reborn. Destroyer: pile of junk in the middle of a whirlwind. High fives all around and it's back to Asgard to stop whatever it is Loki's up to.
Turns out, it's not what people think. At first, it seems like Loki wants to conspire with the frost giants to kill Odin, leaving him free to rule Asgard without any pesky "right of succession" stuff popping up.
But, having snuck Frost King Laufey into Odin's bedroom where the old man sleeps, Loki kills the interloper and announces his plan to turn the enormous power of the Bifrost Bridge to blow all of Jotunheim away. He's not interested in killing Odin at all; he just wants to prove that he can do what Thor does better than Thor.
Thor shows up, tells him he no longer wants to kill all the frost giants, and proves it be smashing the Bifrost Bridge…even though that's going to keep him from Jane, who was rapidly becoming his sweetie.
Loki drops into the void of space beneath the Bifrost—to return in The Avengers—and Thor reconciles with Odin, while Jane looks for a way to connect their worlds again.