So here we are…another entry into the second phase of Marvel films leading into the second Avengers film, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I might be one of the few people who actually enjoyed Iron Man 3. I thought it was instantly better than Iron Man 2.
Will Thor: The Dark World continue the trend of satisfactory Marvel movies? The answer is yes. But it does has its flaws…
I’m going to be honest for a second. I totally forgot this film was coming out. Life (like it always does) gets in the way and this film totally snuck up on me. Realising this film was out I managed to grab some tickets on opening night.
The film takes place after The Avengers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings Loki (Tom Hiddleston) back to Asgard for punishment for his crimes against Earth and is locked up. Keeping Thor distracted from his longing memories of Jane (Natalie Portman), Thor has been helping re-establishing order in the nine realms. With the realms at peace, Thor’s father, Odin asks him to become King and rule over Asgard. He wants his son to move past his feelings for Jane and accept his role. But alas Thor is torn. The first half of the movie he is shirtless in one scene (something I can’t complain ;)) and mopes around missing her presence and having chats with Heimdall (Idris Elba) about how Jane is getting on. Meanwhile Jane (now in London) and her team are investigating strange anomalies where time disperses and the portal to the realms are aligning aka “the convergence”. Jane becomes infected by the aether, a powerful fluid like object that has the power to turn all the nine realms into darkness. It also awakens the villain of the movie, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston aka the Ninth Doctor from Doctor Who) who wants to extract it from Jane and use it for his own evil intentions.
Maybe it was because I saw this late in the evening and my mind was tired but I did feel the first half of the film to be too quick. It felt rushed, not really letting the story breathe. Maybe on a second viewing, the pacing might be better but my mind had to suddenly remember all the events from the first Thor movie and The Avengers and take on this new backstory/prologue involving Malekith and his encounters with Asgardian armies before he went into exile. Then it quickly rushes through what Thor has been doing before going through Jane and Darcy’s (Kat Dennings) story in London while Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard) rambles on about Armageddon whilst streaking naked around Stonehenge! Whilst I completely understand having Thor longing around for his Earth girlfriend, but if the bifrost (Thor’s mode of transport between the realms) was fixed (can someone remind me how it got fixed?), then he could have visited Jane at any time. When Jane becomes infected and couldn’t be seen by Heimdall, that’s when Thor decides to pay a visit. He does explain to her that he has been “busy” but Jane still slaps him for leaving her waiting. Seeing the destruction that the aether has on Jane, he transports her back to Asgard hoping to be healed. It is only then when the story starts to stabilise and regains some composure. Heimdall gets his time to shine with an expanded role as Malekith decides to destroy Asgard for the aether, causing multiple casualties and deaths.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love both Marvel and DC comics properties (probably more DC because I grew up on everything that was Batman, from the comics to the animated cartoon in the 90s), and while the Marvel films are very entertaining and enjoyable, there is also a part of me that feels that the plot lines are very basic, simplistic and formulaic. It’s easy to say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but it does feel like they are repeating the same idea with all their films. A character dies in Thor: The Dark World (don’t worry I won’t spoil it) but while it was sad to see the character go, the shock value doesn’t reside because YOU KNOW either that the character will stay dead or they will magically find a suitable reason to explain their re-appearance. It happened in The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and now Thor: The Dark World.
Thor’s relationship with Jane is an improvement this time around but again it never feels expanded, reduced to simple and convenient outcomes (e.g. Jane trying to date other people in Thor’s absence or Thor showing Jane Asgard but without showing Asgard’s customs and their way of life).
Thor’s friends in Asgard get reduced to bit part roles. At least in the first Thor film we saw their camaraderie, their togetherness and their concern for Thor. In the sequel, we see little of them and they are only there to act as a plot device to move the storyline forward. They all commit the equivalent of Asgardian treason to help Thor, Jane and Loki (now teamed up with his brother) to escape Asgard to stop Malekith, and yet we never see their fate. We never see what becomes of them. We just see them each in turn comically threaten Loki about betraying Thor and then hold off the oncoming guards. Zachery Levi as Fandral (Chuck) looked like a lost Musketeer or a better-looking version of Sebastian Vettel – take your pick.
Whilst Malekith is a better villain, again he never really strays away from the classic villain plot device. He follows the simplistic evil villain checklist:
- Have an epic prologue/backstory [Check]
- Establish what the canon is and run away in exile until it resurfaces and vow vengeance [Check]
- Awaken from your space sleep when you sense the canon is in reach [Check]
- Blow sh*t up [Check]
- Talk like you own the place, mentioning sacrifice etc. and illustrate that by killing one of the main characters [Check]
- Destroy London [Check]
You get the picture. It does feel a bit of a waste despite an improvement in the villainy department. It’s because you never really get to sympathise with his character and we have to easily accept his war-like intentions. So he wants to turn the whole nine realms into darkness because the dark elves once ruled over them – big deal! Us Londoners have to deal with thieving energy suppliers by raising the cost on our household bills.
And speaking of London, it does seem to be the trend to be filming in my city. Fast and the Furious 6, Skyfall, Star Trek into Darkness and now Thor: The Dark World and soon to be sequel, Olympus Has Fallen (it’s called London Has Fallen btw). Another common thing about those movies, they do like to destroy it. Hollywood, is this how you repay us? And can we start suing Superheroes for their fantasy destruction? lol. I must admit it was funny seeing Thor ride the London Underground at Charing Cross trying to get to Greenwich (even though he was on the wrong tube line as there are no direct trains from Charing Cross to Greenwich therefore he needed to change lines. Did he even have an Osyter card? haha). I think that’s what made me laugh about the whole thing – it felt very British that my mind was focused on the plot and yet got distracted by my inner thoughts of “ooh ooh that’s London Bridge!” and “how did I miss them filming in the city?”
But alas the real star of the film really belongs to Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. For three films in a row, he stole the show. The reason is because Thor is so morally good and Malekith so morally bad, Loki is awesomely suited in the middle. We watch his plans for freedom and his desire to sit on the throne of Asgard backfire. His dialogue with his brother Thor is fun and energetic and even disguises himself as a certain Avenger to show how righteous he feels when he joins up to stop Malekith. Hiddleston looked like he was having a blast playing someone so diverse and complicated as Loki and it shows. I’m sure you will agree too when you watch it.
Despite all the flaws, I did have a great time watching Thor: The Dark World. It’s definitely an improvement on the first film which I thought it lulled in places. Despite the rushed first half, the second half of the film steadies and becomes very enjoyable. Chris Hemsworth owns as Thor and eases through the role. I think out of the phase 2 Marvel films so far, Iron Man 3 still sets the benchmark but at least Thor: The Dark World mentions S.H.I.E.L.D. as a presence even if they don’t actually appear.
To give Marvel credit, even though the formula is basic, they remain incredibly consistent. In Thor: The Dark World, there are two bonus scenes so make sure you stay for the first one at least which is a short teaser for (I think) Guardians of the Galaxy/Avengers 2.
With Captain America: The Winter Soldier up next, the trailer already looks promising, showing how Cap deals with living in a modern and technologically advanced era. I’ve seen all the Marvel films now…I’m in too deep, therefore you know where I will be next year.
You’re up next Cap!