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Best bets: 'Thor' drops hammer on big season

The blonde god with the magic hammer is ushering in the start of popcorn movie season. Also this week: Mel Gibson's "The Beaver" comes to theaters; the History Channel teaches "How The States Got Their Shapes."
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"Thor" was always a different kind of superhero. Not a billionaire with a bunch of fancy gadgets, or an alien with superpowers, Thor was a god, banished to our realm with only his magic hammer and some really cut abs. Chris Hemsworth (Captain Kirk's dad in the "Star Trek" origin movie) plays Thor, and Anthony Hopkins seems perfectly cast as his father Odin. Oscar winner Natalie Portman seems to be in every other movie this spring ("Your Highness," really, Natalie?) and she's here, too, as the scientist who becomes Thor's love interest. Ignore your calendar, this movie's arrival means summer popcorn movie season is here. (Opens May 6.)

It's going to be interesting to see how audiences react to "The Beaver." Early reviews have been positive, but this drama, with Mel Gibson as a depressed toy company exec who can only communicate through a beaver hand puppet, is a bit odd.

Add to that Gibson's well-publicized personal drama and it's hard to imagine this movie being the one you choose when looking for Friday night entertainment. (Opens May 6)

Three wedding movies are coming out this spring, and "Something Borrowed" is the first. Could it be the best? Ginnifer Goodwin plays the good girl who's in love with the man who's engaged to her flashy friend (Kate Hudson). Speak now, or forever hold your peace. (Opens May 6.)

The title sounds like a goofy children's book, but the more you think about it, the more interesting it is. "How The States Got Their Shapes" looks at how the boundaries of the Nifty Fifty were drawn. Why isn't Chicago in Wisconsin, and why does Michigan have an upper peninsula that's not attached to the state's lower half? Why aren't giant states like Texas and California split into multiple regions? The show promises to tell us. (Premieres May 3, 10 p.m., History Channel.)

Just when you thought we'd reached the saturation point with pawn shop-based reality shows, here comes "Pawn Queens." Unlike the shops in "Pawn Stars" and "Hardcore Pawn," this show focuses on a pawn shop that is run by and caters to women. Their specialties include vintage Barbie dolls and jewelry. (Premieres May 5, 10 p.m., TLC.)

Seth Rogen, superhero? If you still think of the comic actor as the goofy dad-in-training from "Knocked Up," here's a new take. He starred in "The Green Hornet" as a self-made superhero who used to be a party animal and now must take life, and crime, seriously. Asian pop star Jay Chou plays Kato. (Out on DVD May 3.)

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is's movies editor.