The opening scene of I Am Thor, a documentary about bodybuilder/rock musician/actor Jon Mikl Thor, opens with a clip from the '70s. Decked out in big silver boots and a sequined speedo, Thor blows up a hot water bottle until it pops. The clip makes for an appropriate way to begin the bizarre story about Thor, an underground rock star who once promised to be a mainstream sensation but never fulfilled that promise.
The film, which screens at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the Capitol Theatre, paints a compelling portrait of a unique pop culture anti-hero.
Thor, who's interviewed extensively in the film, says that, at an early age, he would wear super hero costumes to school and once had kids throw bricks at his head because he thought he was invincible. Inspired by Kiss and Alice Cooper, he forms the metal act Thor and the Imps and immediately booked an arena rock tour. "I was excited to go out there and conquer the world," says Thor, who regularly wielded a hammer on stage. "Everything was going according to plan."
But then he's reportedly drugged and kidnapped at gunpoint, and "some pretty heavy stuff went down." He says he didn't want to press charges against anyone, so he just moves on after the incident. And move on he does.
He eventually recruits Motorhead's manager to handle his affairs. But once again, the band doesn't deliver on its initial promise and Thor returns to New York to pursue an acting career. That doesn't go so well either, and he turns into what he calls a "vampire," as he wanders the streets of New York at all hours of the day. After suffering a nervous breakdown, he officially retires from the biz for a decade before launching a comeback in 1998. The comeback trail is a tough one, and he suffers another nervous breakdown. In 2007, a stroke leaves him blind in one eye.
It all amounts to a sad story about a guy who can't manage to turn his novelty act into a sustainable endeavor. By following a clear chronology and including behind-the-scenes and live concert footage, the film shows the rise and fall (but mostly fall) of a pop culture oddity. Worthwhile, even if you've never heard of Thor.