One of the many things I loved about the movie at the time was how Thor (i.e., Mr. Chris Hemsworth the beautiful) spent a short scene without a shirt, giving the audience a long, pleasant eyeful of the results of his extensive workout regimen.
Here is a picture for your edification, because I'm nothing if not thorough when it comes to research. (I know the picture is from his first movie, but the only differences are that in Thor 2 he's wetter and wearing different pants.)
As I said, I loved it, though that love was as much from the knowledge that it was complete and utter fanservice as it was from getting to see the dimples above the man's ass. (And it was even acknowledged as fanservice, in case you were wondering--poor Hemsworth struggles through discussing it here.)
I've posted about fanservice for women (and gay men) before, and my feeling is still that it's about damn time we females and non-het males get some of our own back too.
The thing is, when I was enthusing about the movie to my sister squeakyoflight that evening, she told me that she didn't like that scene precisely because it was fanservice. Objectifying men as well as women is still objectification, she said. And no one deserves to be treated like an object.
At the time, my argument was that since North American (and world, really) culture is patriarchal, that it's impossible to objectify men the same way we objectify women. We were seeing Thor's power there, as much as just seeing his body. But I've been thinking about it since then, and now I'm no longer so sure.
There was a great deal of completely reasonable uproar about the gratuitous scene showing Alice Eve in her underwear in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and in that scene Dr. Marcus's near-nudity is at least barely (ha! 'Bare'-ly) justifiable (she was changing into a special suit for diffusing a bomb). Hemsworth's scene in TtDW is not. It exists for no better reason than for the audience to admire him.
Fascinatingly, in the video interview I liked to above, Hemsworth says that the idea for the shirtless scene came from Joss Whedon, who said the movie needed a little 'romance' (which is I guess what they call fanservice in Hollywood). Whedon, of course, probably knows something about the male gaze, given his reputation of being one of the only Hollywood feminists out there. (Though admittedly your mileage may vary on the 'feminist' part.)
So on the one hand: thank you, Mr. Whedon, for recognizing that not every member of the audience for a superhero movie is going to be a straight male. On the other hand: really? Is this what you're advocating now, purposely setting aside screen time just for ogling? And why is this supposed to be okay?
It's not okay. It's definitely pretty and certainly amusing, but much as I've joked about it and I admit I enjoy it; even I know it's really not okay.
But as long as it's continuing, I'll still be happy that the men are getting semi-naked too. Maybe two wrongs don't make a right, but they do make things a little more fair.
(Movie still is from The Everett Collection.)