Here's a case where a studio is taking back the conversation about a film of theirs after several online leaks, and in the best possible way.  First the "secret ending" of "Iron Man 2," which may tie in to the larger Marvel Universe in some way, was spoiled by a bootlegged version of the scene, and then a spy photo showed up online this week of  one of the major villains in "Thor."   In an effort to shift the conversation, Paramount and Marvel have now offered up the first official still of Chris Hemsworth in costume as Thor, and it's a great, evocative first look at the character.

I sincerely believe "Thor" is poised to be a major surprise hit next year, and I say "surprise" even though this is a giant-budget Marvel Studios superhero movie because I think it's still a title that is under the radar for many people.  "Thor" is in the same position now that "Iron Man" was a year before release.  Many people predicted that the general public had no idea who Iron Man was, and that they wouldn't care.  With "Thor," the question marks all seem to be about the way the studio plans to introduce Norse gods and mythology and magic into an onscreen universe that so far seems to be based in science, even if it is Marvel pseudo-science.

One of the first things that won me over when I was given a sneak peek at the world of "Thor" was the design, and I think it's going to be a striking, gorgeous, larger-than-life movie.  The costuming in the film is bold, and fans of the classic Jack Kirby era of the comic are going to be amazed how much the visual style evokes that stuff, but in a real-world way.  Marvel isn't running from the grand operatic nature of the world of "Thor," and that's impressive.

Chris Hemsworth is, of course, an unproven commodity as a lead actor, and no matter how much I liked him in his big scene in "Star Trek," that's not proof that he can carry a movie this big.  He's surrounded by some amazing actors in major roles, and having seen him in motion, I can say that he looks the part.  I've actually held the Mjolnir, and I can tell you that it's not easy to figure out how to wield a battle hammer in a way that looks cool and authentic and commanding, and Hemsworth has that part of the job down cold.  He's going to successfully strike an iconic Thor pose or two, including this first glimpse one that Yahoo Movies was able to exclusively premiere.

We'll have more for you on this film as it gets closer to release.  "Thor" is due in theaters May 6, 2011.

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