Can someone explain to me again why "Thor" is considered by so many to be riskier-than-average for Marvel Studios?

I keep hearing that, over and over, that "Thor" is the film no one thinks they can get right, the one that's going to derail "The Avengers," the one that ruins the rules that the Marvel Universe onscreen so far has established.  Personally, I don't see it.  I think "Thor" is a natural, and I think Marvel's been very caution to make sure that they get this one right.  When Matthew Vaughn was on the film for a while, they were thinking more along the lines of a "Lord Of The Rings," a giant fantasy film that intersected with the Marvel movie world, but I think the version that Kenneth Branagh is getting ready to make is more of a story about a man, Donald Blake, who finds himself caught between two worlds when he realizes that he is actually the Norse god Thor, made human as a punishment for hubris by his all-powerful father, Odin.

And now that Marvel's got Anthony Hopkins signed as Odin, they've got to be feeling even better about the movie.

Mark Protosevich and Zack Stentz are working on the script, according to the report in Variety, and the rest of the cast is coming together in fascinating ways.  There were rumors that Robert De Niro and Jude Law might be joining the cast, but that seems to be another of those total misunderstandings based on an off-hand comment by an actor at an international junket.  Word is that Dominic Cooper ("Mamma Mia", "An Education") is up for a role as one of the Warriors Three, supporting bad-guys from the Thor comics, and I like the idea of a cast of serious actors, people you wouldn't normally see in comic-book movies.  Natalie Portman's definitely onboard as Jane Foster, who is a nurse who works with Donald Blake, and who has no idea about his true nature.

Chris Hemsworth made an impression on filmgoers this past summer as George Kirk, the father to the infant James Kirk, killed in the film's tragic opening sequence, and now he's got the biggest role of his career coming as Thor.  I'm not sure if the plan is to have him play Donald Blake as well, but I've always thought that's one of the trickiest parts of the story... Thor, after all, is a Norse god, while Donald Blake is a frail, somewhat broken mortal.  The whole point of the story is that Odin forces his powerful, prideful son to assume the most fragile of mortal bodies so he can learn humility and humanity, two qualities he lacks.

Tom Hiddleston is also onboard already, set to play Loki, the deadly trickster brother of Thor, and it could be a great introduction to the mainstream for this actor who has already worked with Branagh on the "Wallander" films for the BBC. 

Look for "Thor" in theaters on May 20, 2011, and look for more news on the film here at HitFix as more casting comes together and as the film gets underway.

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