Want to create Thor using upper-level mathematics? It’s simple! Just follow this straightforward equation. Remember: There will be a test. But we’re following summer-school rules, so everybody gets an A for showing up!
1. Begin with a hefty dose of Henry V, the 1989 film which kickstarted Thor director Kenneth Branagh’s big-screen career. Like Henry V, Thor is an adapted tale about a dashing young royal who has to prove himself in battle. Like Henry V, Thor features a rousing score by Patrick Doyle. Basically, just replaced “the French” with “Frost Giants,” and the films look shockingly similar.
2. Multiply Henry V by Masters of the Universe, the 1987 crapsterpiece based on the “He-Man” series of toys. Like Thor, Masters of the Universe features a curious sci-fi/fantasy ecosystem by which the demi-god beings of Planet Eternia get magically beamed to modern-day America, where their elaborate costumes and archaic customs are played for fish-out-of-water laughs. Courteney Cox’s curious teenager in Masters of the Universe is basically Natalie Portman’s brilliant doctor in Thor, except without the interest in astrophysics, because no one ever used words like “astrophysics” in the ’80s.
3. Add Excalibur, John Boorman’s color-blasted 1981 retelling of the Arthurian legend. Thor features a Sword-in-the-Stone subplot, in which the hero is incapable of lifting his iconic hammer until such time as he is proven worthy. And like Excalibur, Thor features a gorgeous fantasy metropolis that appears to be populated by roughly eight people.
4. Add Legends of the Fall, the 1994 western melodrama in which Anthony Hopkins plays a crusty patriarch attempting (mostly in vain) to mediate between his squabbling sons — one of them a dark-haired canny politician, the other a light-haired fighting man. The latter is played by Brad Pitt, whose flowing blond locks and brighter-than-the-sun half-beard appear to have been brought out of cold storage and surgically attached to Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth.
5. Now divide those last two films by Iron Man 2, because the beautifully intertwined plotlines about Thor’s inner battle with himself and his outer battle with his brother are regularly shoved aside for lots and lots of Marvel mega-franchise world-building. By “world-building,” we mean an expanded role for Marvel mascot Clark Gregg, a throwaway Avengers cameo we wouldn’t dream of spoiling for you, and a post-credits sequence that sucks all the air out of Thor‘s climax but points straight ahead to Avengers. (Also, we at EW do not support drinking games, but if you want to take a sip of your Coke every time someone says “S.H.I.E.L.D.” in Thor, you’ll have type-2 diabetes by the third act.)