Iron Man 3 kicked off this summer’s blockbuster season and seemed great soon after seeing it, but, as the summer went on, it lost more and more of it’s luster. Thor: The Dark World is the true Marvel blockbuster for this year, full of incredible action, great jokes and a potentially game changing twist to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thor: The Dark World picks up shortly after The Avengers, with Loki being locked away in Asgard’s dungeons for his crimes against Earth and the other realms while Thor, Lady Sif and the Warriors Three work to bring peace to the nine realms after the bi-frost bridge is finally repaired. Meanwhile on Earth, Jane Foster is working in London researching physics anomalies when she stumbles into another dimension and is infected by the Aether, a powerful magical artifact that draws the attention of the dormant dark elf, Malekith, who wants to use the Aether to cast the universe into darkness. After two movies of getting everyone used to the idea of a superhero who is also a Norse god, The Dark World dives head first into the awesome craziness inherent in Thor, pushing it completely into the realm of fantasy like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. The Game of Thrones influence is definitely felt as director Alan Taylor worked on multiple episodes of that show. Asgard feels much more fully realized and calls to mind King’s Landing while the opening historical battle and Thor’s initial skirmish in one of the realm’s definitely feel right of Lord of the Rings, with Malekith subbing in for Sauron and the Aether being the One Ring. There’s also lots of awesome sci-fi elements as, despite the fact that everyone is wearing armor and wielding swords and spears, they also have space fighters, lasers and other tech, especially the Dark Elves. Some of the more casual fans of the Marvel movies might be lost by the magical overload but if you’re a fan of both genres, there’s tons of great, awesome stuff to look at .
Just like the other Marvel heroes, Chris Hemsworth continues to be the perfect choice for Thor. After learning his lessons on humility in the first movie and teaming with The Avengers, Thor is now the noble defender of the nine realms who is willing to sacrifice everything, but retains his sense of humor and cockiness. It’s also great that there isn’t some weird, arbitrary loss to his power, he’s fully the God of Thunder for the whole movie. I also appreciate the fact that the other Asgardians have much more to do than in the first movie, when they may have been named and that’s it. It’s also great to get Natalie Portman back, who has great back and forth with everyone but especially Kat Dennings and Chris Hemsworth. Tom Hiddleston is back as Loki and continues to gleefully revel in being evil, although after you get ragdolled by the Hulk, you lose a little of your threat but Loki is still scheming on how to get the throne of Asgard but there’s a significant softening to his relationship with Thor in the movie. Christopher Eccleston is all right as Malekith but there’s nothing really unique about him, he’s just a generic villain out to destroy the universe and he’s especially bland compared to Loki. Another thing that didn’t quite work was the “sub plot” revolving around Darcy and Dr. Selvig’s misadventures on Earth while Jane is in Asgard. Whenever it cuts back, the scenes are way too short to add anything to the plot and are hit and miss about how funny they are. All the characters come together for the finale but it’s slightly jarring and distracting to cut away from Asgardian action to a quick comedic scene.
The action in Thor 2 is definitely a step up from the first Thor movie, helped by the fact that the scale is so much larger than a random New Mexico town. The final action sequence in particular is incredibly kinetic, clever and fun, with Thor and Malekith battling in Greenwich but the realms are aligning and physics is breaking down, so portals are opening up all over the place, teleporting them to different realms and sending Mjolnir to the moon, just to name a few things that happen. The look of everything is a huge step up as well. I already mentioned that Asgard feels much more fully realized but The Dark World truly leaves up to it’s name as a hellish, dark desert world. As usual, make sure you stay through til halfway through the credits as well, because The Dark World actually as a legit Easter egg scene.
Thor: The Dark World is easily the best Marvel movie this year and probably one of the best in the whole Marvel Cinematic franchise. It’s a huge step up from Thor, which was still really fun and feels like the first true follow up to The Avengers and sets things up in the universe in some incredibly interesting ways, a must see.