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Will they get Thor's flying hammer throw right next time?

The humor in the amiable, handsome "Thor" makes it play like a deluxe version of a Capital One Vikings commercial (see above) -- especially when the god of thunder, smitten by the new taste of coffee, shatters his mug with glee and demands another cup. The spectacle and visual motifs echo, in their own slick way, more distinctive cinematic sources, like del Toro's Hellboy movies, which also depict a mythology based on alternate dimensions or "realms.".

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Still, all in all, as a childhood fan of the comic book, I thought director Kenneth Branagh's movie, derivative though it may be, pretty much delivered the Norse gods -- and the goods -- as I remembered them from the Jack Kirby-Stan Lee originals. I especially liked the insane Asgardian armor that resembles multiple layers of metallic musculature, the vertiginous cosmic landscapes, and the fight scenes that burst the frames, not just with Thor's mallet, but with hammering fists.

One thing was missing, though -- the way Thor would use his hammer to travel at high speed. As James Kakalios writers in "The Physics of Superheroes," "Throwing it in the direction he would want it to go, he would momentarily let got of the hammer's handle-strap and then grab onto it again, flinging himself through the air as an unguided missile." Although even Bartman Comics pilloried this move's apparent breaking of the laws of physics, Kakalios, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota, says it's actually "physically plausible. When Thor twirls his hammer, the mighty Mjolnir, he plants his feet firmly on the ground, coupling his body's center of mass to the Earth's....When Thor is read to let fly, all he must do is jump slightly (breaking his connection with the Earth) at the moment he throws his hammer in the desired direction....If one is as strong as a thunder god, one can use this technique to fly through the air with the greatest of ease."

It's a lot more dynamic than just twirling his hammer at super-speed, the way he does in the movie. I'd love to see the filmmakers try this trademark move next time out.

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