Now that Thor’s second movie has made it to theaters, I decided to go back and revisit Thor: Tales of Asgard, the movie—not to be confused with the comics of the same name, which it has nothing to do with. Or with the comic, Thor: Son of Asgard, which it also has very little to do with. Thor: Tales of Asgard is a direct-to-video animated feature about Thor’s and Loki’s youth that was released a few days after the first Thor movie hit theaters. Considering that its release was meant to coincide with the live-action movie’s, I also naïvely assumed that its story was also meant to coincide with the live-action movie’s. Alas, I was wrong.
I suppose that’s not completely fair; it does have some things to do with the Thor movie. Tales of Asgard still takes place in an alternate universe where Loki does not know he’s adopted and he and Thor actually get along. But that’s about it. Nothing else matches the live-action movie, and I suspect the only reason Loki’s unaware of his true parentage is to not give anything away for non-comic book readers. Basically, Tales of Asgard is a stand-alone movie that attempts to trick people into thinking it has something to do with the live-action features.
The plot is about a young, brash, and spoiled Thor who drags Loki off on an adventure with him to prove himself to their father. They travel to Jotunheim, where they search for the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur. Miraculously, they find the sword, but by stealing it out of Jotunheim, they accidentally start a war. Now, with Frost Giants and other dangers chasing them, they journey back to Asgard, just in time to see the approaching Jotun army. Thor risks his life to return to sword to the Jotuns, saving Asgard by stopping the war he started, and finally being proven worthy in his father’s two eyes.
Tales of Asgard isn’t a bad movie. It’s actually rather enjoyable, but despite the fact that it and the live-action movie don’t affect one another in terms of story and characterization, in many ways the live-action movie makes Tales of Asgard worse than it actually is. They both have the exact same plot. The brash and arrogant Thor starts a war with Jotunheim, like in the live-action movie, and he has to learn to make things better and take responsibility, like in the live-action movie. Unfortunately, because of this, Tales of Asgard adds nothing new, and the story ends up being rather mediocre. It has its moments here and there, but the story’s overall plot ended up ruining it for me because I’ve seen it done before. And handled a lot better.
When this first came out, though I expected it to coincide with the live-action movie, I also expected that its story would be similar to the comic Thor: Son of Asgard, and to this day, I still cannot figure out why it’s not. Other than the main characters still being teenagers, they have nothing in common, but Son of Asgard is by far a stronger story. The comic is still about Thor learning and growing as a person, and risking his life to do the right thing, but for different reasons. The conflict actually seems a lot more personal for Thor, and therefore it means a lot more to the audience. In Son of Asgard, Thor risks his life to save Sif, which harkens back to the original comics, as that is how he’s proven worthy enough to wield Mjolnir, and the story also takes the time and effort to build up his and Sif’s relationship and show that they trust each other. The ending means a lot more because of it. And it also takes the time with Sif’s character to show how she feels living in a blatantly misogynistic society and her struggles with being a woman because of it. As such, she’s also more than just a damsel in distress. Though Tales of Asgard also goes out of its way to show Sif’s struggles with these issues, it does it by revamping the Valkyries into a man-hating army that Sif’s tempted to join.
But I think the main reason I just don’t like Tales of Asgard that much is because it’s meant to be an original take on Thor’s youth, but it goes about it in all the wrong ways. It really would have been better off being based on Son of Asgard. If you haven’t seen this movie, it doesn’t really hurt anything, and it’s still a fun watch. It’s just not a very memorable one.