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Posted at 8:15 PM ET, 02/17/2011

LIGHTS! CAMERA! PORTMAN! New 'THOR' trailer's best special effect: Natalie

By Michael Cavna

The first "Thor" trailer left some viewers underwhelmed -- beyond Anthony Hopkins's booming presence, all that Norse power seemed rather, well, muted and diluted.

Today, though, a new post-Super Bowl "Thor" trailer lands -- and with it, Comic Riffs, for one, has renewed hope for Kenneth Branagh's film (due out May 6). The special effects featured here register as more impressive (bring on the Asgardians!); the Odinson comes off as more, well, "human" (Thor digs coffee! Order up, one Hammerhead); and the glimpsed battle sequences (including that iron giant The Destroyer) look promising. As the workmanlike Aussie Chris Hemsworth lumbers through his scenes ably, however, one true special effect appears especially necessary:

That effect is Natalie Portman.

If it's possible to steal scenes even within the split-seconds of a trailer, the likely soon-to-be Oscar winner ("Black Swan") does. With doe-eyed curiosity and wry line readings, Portman -- small in stature but stout of acting muscles -- seems capable of carrying entire scenes opposite Hemsworth.

Recent films built around a single male superhero often haven't delivered the most memorable of performances from their female leads (see: Katie Holmes; Maggie Gyllenhaal -- and Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts is certainly open to debate). Here's hoping Portman -- so good in the comic-sprung "V for Vendetta" -- proves to be Thor's ultimate friend with cinematic benefits.

IN OTHER BIG-SCREEN SUPERHERO NEWS: Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Shane Black will direct "Iron Man 3." Black -- a writer on the "Lethal Weapon" franchise and "Last Action Hero" -- memorably helped resuscitate Robert Downey Jr.'s career when he directed the "Iron Man" star in 2005's "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"...


New big-screen Superman Henry Cavill leaps to the cover of Entertainment Weekly as he and director Zack Snyder are interviewed. icv2 reports that Cavill -- in Snyder's words -- displayed a "crazy-calm confidence" when slipping into Christopher Reeve's classic Supes suit for the first time.

New 'SUPERMAN' is cast: 'Tudors' ' Henry Cavill is your big-screen Man of Steel

By Michael Cavna  | February 17, 2011; 8:15 PM ET
Categories:  Geek Buzz, Superheroes  | Tags:  Chris Hemsworth, Henry Cavill, Iron Man 3, Marvel Comics, Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr., Shane Black, Superman, Thor, Zack Snyder  
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