Thor: Tales of Asgard is the eighth and final film from Marvel Animation and Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The feature was written by Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson while directed by Sam Liu. It was produced before Planet Hulk but not released until May 17, 2011 to coincide with the live-action film. It serves as a prequel to Hulk vs Thor and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Although there is a comic series called Thor: Tales of Asgard, the story is inspired by the series Thor: Son of Asgard and is a spiritual successor to the teenager-centric Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.
Thor fights the Einherjar in, unbeknownst to him, staged fights so that he cannot lose. His brother Loki praises him, though his girlfriend Sif berates him feeling she is the only one telling him the truth. Thor asks his father Odin to leave Asgard but is refused and told the truth of his training. He goes to the armory to take a sword and talks to Algrim, the Dark Elf advisor to Odin. He says he wants to head to Jotunheim find Elderstahl, the legendary Sword of Surtur, to test his manhood. Algrim warns against it but lets him go. Thor interrupts Loki and Amora and takes his brother aboard the Thunder Runner, the ship of the Warriors Three. They head to an inn where Thor's brashness causes a fight to break out with Fenris and the inn to burn. The five Asgardians head to Jotunheim to being the quest.
Odin worries about his sons but Algrim comforts him, having been a father before his people were killed. Later, the inn owner tells Odin about his place. The five get to Jotunheim and trek the frozen realm. After remembering their father's stories, Thor and Loki find the sword. They head towards Kona Lifandi, where Sif is training with Brunhilde and the Valkyries, to find transportation home. On the way they are caught by the Frost Giants. In the confusion, Thor uses Elderstahl to destroy the bridge connecting Jotunheim to Yggdrasill and kills two sentries. Thor becomes horrified of the sword's powers.
King Thrym and Prince Geirmarr hear about the killings and lead the Jotun army to war in retaliation against Asgard. Odin tries to stop the battle and Thrym gives him time to find Thor so the Jotuns can take Elderstahl. Thor and the others are captured by the Valkyries. Before they can be executed, Frost Giants attack. In the battle, Brunhilde lets the men go and releases Sif realizing she still loves Thor. In Svartalfheim, Algrim tells Ander about the war between his people and the Jotuns, and how his family died. The Einherjar find Thor and Algrim takes Elderstahl. However, the sword corrupts him. He blames Odin for not helping the elves but killing Surtur, which allowed the Jotuns to exterminate the elves. Algirm kills Ander and the Einherjar then flies to Asgard. The others follow.
Algrim attacks Odin, who uses his spear Gungnir, and nearly defeats him. When the time is up, the Frost Giants attack Asgard believing that they are purposely keeping Elderstahl. Thor and the others arrive and try to stop them. Sif and the Warriors Three fend off the Jotuns while Thor and Loki help their father. Thor uses Gungnir to attack his former friend and eventually defeats him. In his rage, Loki uses Elderstahl to kill Algrim. Thor quickly takes the sword and hands it over to Thrym and Geirmarr. He also gives himself up so that the war will stop. Thrym takes the sword and orders his army to leave. Appreciating Thor's sacrifice, Thrym and later Odin forgive him. Loki remains tortured by his actions. The Warriors Three finally have some true stories to tell, having stolen all their previous stories. Sif thanks Thor for helping her get into the Einherjar and the two make up.
The video was not as well received as as previous the previous films from Marvel. Critics felt it was a step down from previous efforts such as Hulk Vs and Planet Hulk. Like The Invincible Iron Man, many complained that it was a noticeably inferior effort to the concurrent live action film. Many critics felt it was too episodic, as if designed for television. Many did not care for how Thor did not become the hero he is supposed to be, as if there were more to the story that was not shown. Some noted sexist undertones in the story. The reaction to the animation was mixed with some feeling it was cartoonish while others praised it for its scope and design. Many did enjoy the relationship between Thor and Loki as it made their eventual rivalry more tragic. Some liked that it explored an age of Thor not usually seen and set up many of the characters to be the versions they eventually would be known as. The score was widely praised as being of the movie series' best.
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