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Norse 'gods' bring godly themes to screen

Not once in over two years of reviewing films has a single movie I’ve written up been so overloaded with worldview issues as the newest box office hit “Thor.”

But before Christian audiences too quickly dismiss the film for its focus on pagan mythology, they should be aware the movie very clearly explains its Norse pantheon is made of neither gods nor angels nor demons. In fact, there’s almost nothing pagan about “Thor” at all.

Instead, the characters Odin, Thor and Loki are portrayed in the film as an alien race of superior technology who visited Earth 1,000 years ago and whose “powers” were only mistaken for divinity. When the aliens returned home, they became objects of worship, myth and legend among the Norse people.

But now in the 21st century, according to “Thor,” one of the aliens – the title character, a warmongering, prideful son of the king – has been cast down to earth, stripped of his immortality and forced to live as human among the Earthlings again.

From that foundation, this entertaining superhero flick spins a feel-good, redemptive tale of repentance and restoration, of self-sacrifice and heroism, of the wisdom and love of a father, of loyalty and friendship, of the consequences of sin and pride and of good triumphing over evil.

Rather than being a film Christians might revile for pagan themes, “Thor” becomes a movie discerning audiences can praise for reaffirming positive values and an uplifting story.

And when you add in the film’s big-budget special effects and vivid colors, likeable characters, a surprisingly good performance from the lead actor and a director that carefully held back the movie from going too overboard … “Thor” is everything Friday nights and popcorn were made for.

But what are all these “worldview issues” I mentioned?

Dozens, some intriguing parallels to biblical themes, others that stray from the truth and merit caution. But because so many are worth talking about and this column’s space is limited, I’ll list the highlights and allow those who see the film to discuss on their own:

The story of “Thor” weaves in and out of the Grand Narrative of God the Father redeeming humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ. Like a film that does the same, “The Matrix,” it’s not a perfect parallel, not an allegory as clean as C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia,” but it is more than coincidence.

For wherever stories of love and redemption are told, the Author of love and redemption will be nearby, calling out through the tale (Philippians 1:18) for the hearts and minds of those who have an ear to hear His voice and receive Him (Matthew 13:9-16). All for the price of a 3-D movie and some popcorn. In the case of “Thor,” it’s a pretty good deal.

Content advisory: