Remember when I told you to stay for the teaser after the end credits for Iron Man 2? Well, this is why.

Remember when I told you to stay for the teaser after the end credits for Iron Man 2? Well, this is why.

Asgard, one of the Nine Realms, is ruled by Odin (Anthony Hopkins, The Rite, because who else could you possibly cast as Odin?) and wife Frigga (Rene Russo, Lethal Weapon 4). As it turns out, Asgard looks like a giant pipe organ. Yeah, it’s kind of an odd look, but it works, for the most part. The Celtic knots are a strange thing to find among the Norse deities, but they’ve also got a sort of Matrix-ish-steampunky sort of feel going on. It looks better than Olympus did in Clash of the Titans, anyway, which is the important part.

Chris Hemsworth is The Mighty Thor, God of Thunder, the older of Odin’s sons. (He was in Star Trek as Kirk’s father, for about two minutes.) The younger son is Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, who was in the Wallander TV series with Kenneth Branagh, who directed Thor, so I guess that’s how Tom Hiddleston got the part. He’s an excellent Loki, though, don’t worry. Everyone in Asgard is apparently a warrior, though Loki is more a 25th level rogue. I mean, he’s a trickster sort of god who casts illusions and sneaks up on people instead of going toe to toe and beating them up.

Like any good pantheon, they have arch-nemeses. Nemesi? Frost giants. They’re not fifteen feet tall, like Dungeons & Dragons frost giants, but they’re tall and can freeze you with a glance. Well, with a touch, but it’s still impressive. The fragile peace between the two groups is falling apart, and frankly, Thor is kind of an idiot about diplomacy. That always kind of bothered me in the comic books. He was so supremely overconfident and clueless, and yet somehow things always seemed to work out for him. Fortune favors the foolish, I guess.

Anyway, Odin’s bothered by his son’s supremely overconfident cluelessness, too. Next thing Thor knows, he’s without his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, and stuck in the middle of New Mexico as a mere mortal. Just when he thinks things can’t get any worse, Natalie Portman, the ex-Black Swan, here playing Jane Foster, runs him over. She isn’t a nurse here, as in the comics; she’s an astrophysicist, and also a terrible driver. She works with her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) and intern Darcy (Kat Dennings, Norah of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) in a building that looks like an old gas station. Darcy, who wisely declares that she’s not willing to die for six college credits and wields a mean taser, looks like Jane. I thought at first they were supposed to be sisters. But Jane’s out to unlock the secrets of the universe, and just imagine how useful a deity will be on that quest! Even a clueless one.

There’s swordfighting, a metal robot-thing that breathes fire, storms, electromagnetic interference to mess everything up, and of course lots of ice. Throw in a little betrayal, a touch of metaphysics, a bit of a King Arthur/Excalibur reference, and lots of special effects, and you’re done. Oh, and there’s also Lady Sif and the Warriors Three (Jaimie Alexander and Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, and Josh Dallas). Sif uses a quarterstaff and a shield, which I thought was a little awkward, though she does all right.

The film does all right, too. Three and three-quarters out of five. There are plenty of nice little references to the comic, and of course Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). I still want his job. There’s even Stan Lee, and a cameo from yet another Avenger at the big hammer-crater, though I won’t give away who it is. And — of course, it should go without saying at this point — there’s a teaser after the credits, so don’t get up and leave after the pretty starfield effects stop. There’s another movie in the set that needs foreshadowing, after all. Avengers Assemble!