Thor: The Dark World is the second movie in Marvel’s phase 2–everything since Marvel’s The Avengers–the first being Iron Man 3. Now, I wasn’t a huge fan of Iron Man 3 and The Dark World is the first sequel for any of the Avengers since Iron Man 2 (also not that great,) so I was a little hesitant. Especially because Thor didn’t necessarily impress me very much. (To be fair, I watched Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor in the same day and I liked Captain America better.) Since it is a Marvel movie, The Dark World was heavily promoted and highly anticipated, though I didn’t have very high expectations for the film. Whether because I wasn’t expecting much or not, I enjoyed The Dark World a lot. It’s a fantastic edition to the Marvel franchise that is definitely worth seeing in theaters.
The Dark World had plenty of action and more humor than I had even hoped for, plus some great brotherly moments between Thor and Loki. There’s been a trend in Marvel movies since Iron Man 2 where the plots of the film tend to drag in between the fight sequences. The Dark World suffers from this same affliction to a certain extent, but I noticed that whenever I started to get bored with a scene, it changed. So the pacing has improved since the first film. Additionally, The Dark World strikes a great balance between plot development, action, and humor–plus some character development, of course. I have to give it to the cast–Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, and Christopher Eccleston especially–for their fantastic performances. Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of why I loved Thor: The Dark World.
Marvel Movie Tie-Ins
First off: yes, Stan Lee makes a cameo in The Dark World (as if he wouldn’t.) Then, of course, Thor 2 needed to fit into the universe already established in the films leading up to and since The Avengers–although since it’s a Thor film, it gets to exist within all the nine realms of the universe. There’s Asgard, Earth, and the Dark World (obviously,) as well as a nod to Jotunheim, the home of the frost giants that was featured in Thor. We got to see more of these realms in this movie. Plus there was a really cool inter-realm fight scene between Thor and Malekith that was seriously awesome.
As far as tie-ins with other Avengers films, I was a little disappointed by the lack of SHIELD in The Dark World, though they were mentioned by name. However, while we didn’t get to see Nick Fury or Coulson–they’re both a bit busy, you know, Coulson’s got his own team now–we did get Captain America. (Chris Evans made an early reappearance before his sequel film Captain America: The Winter Soldier premieres next year.) Well, technically it wasn’t Captain America, it was Loki disguised to look like Captain America, but that made it all the more hilarious. Sure, it wasn’t the most important part of the film, but it’s these little details that tie all the Marvel films together and make them more cohesive that make them so great.
When it comes down to it, The Dark World is an action/adventure movie (or at least, that’s how it would be categorized on Netflix) and it does not disappoint moviegoers in that respect. Sure, there’s a fight scene in the beginning of the film in which Thor just drops in and saves the day that is fairly anticlimactic. But it’s the beginning of the movie, what do you expect? That scene exists more to establish the quippy relationship between Thor and Sif, played by Jaimie Alexander (which was great, by the way.) Then there’s the scene in which Malekith and the Dark Elves attack Asgard–that was really very awesome. Plus there were some aerial fight scenes that made me wish the Dark Elves had played the part of the aliens in Independence Day just so I could watch Will Smith try to fly one of their ships. (Think about it, how cool would that be in Independence Day 2?)
However, the best part of the action scenes were the ladies. One glance around my blog will tell you that I’m a fan of strong female characters who can hold their own in a fight, so of course I enjoyed that aspect of The Dark World. Sif, of course, is fantastic. Frigga, the Queen of Asgard (Rene Russo,) also has a shining moment in which she demonstrates both her cunning and her skill with a sword. Jane Foster, while she spends most of the film as a host for the mystical element called the Aether, partially saves the day with science by the end. So, sure, Thor is technically the hero of this film, but the other characters, including the ladies, got in on the action of this flick.
Yeah, yeah, Thor and Loki really shine in The Dark World, we’ll get back to that in a bit. For now, let’s talk about how awesome all the minor characters were in this film. Sif, Frigga, Odin (Anthony Hopkins,) Heimdall (Idris Elba,) Fandral (Zachary Levi,) Volstagg (Ray Stevenson,) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard.) The Asgard characters played a much bigger part in The Dark World than they did in Thor, and they were more instrumental to the action. Heimdall proved himself–again–to be a badass: he took down a whole Dark Elf ship by himself with just a sword.
Then there’s Darcy Lewis, played by Kat Dennings. Now, I loved Darcy in Thor; She was most often the comedic relief in between Thor’s “Another!” quips (which don’t get old.) In the second Thor film, she’s even funnier–if that’s possible–and it’s great. Plus, Darcy’s got an intern, Ian, although she only refers to him as The Intern. (Yep, Jane’s intern now has an intern.) When Jane gets whisked off to Asgard by Thor, it’s up to Darcy to hold down the fort on Earth and make sure Erik has all the technology developed that will help Jane save the day. So really, Darcy is the unsung hero of the film and she deserves more credit. In fact, let’s just give Darcy her own movie.
I’d like to preface this section by stating that Batman & Robin is by far the funniest superhero movie of all time–puns are the best, obviously–and I understand that I’m one of the few human beings on the planet that has this opinion (I got your back, George Clooney.) So my taste when it comes to humor in superhero movies is slightly questionable. I certainly noticed that there were times when I was the only one in the theater (that I could hear) laughing. So maybe I’m in the minority on this one, too, but I really enjoyed the humor in The Dark World.
Darcy is, again, hilarious, but so are the other characters. In the first film, they tried to give Thor some humorous lines, but his comedy was overshadowed by his massive character development throughout that movie. Now that he’s established who he is, Thor can be funny, which was showcased a little more in The Avengers and again in The Dark World. Maybe he picked up some good snark from Tony Stark, or maybe Thor learned a thing or two about wit from Loki. The black sheep brother is back in The Dark World with all his sass. Despite being an imprisoned villain for half of the film, Loki keeps up the constant stream of snark that comes out of his mouth. Between these three characters, and some other situational comedy, it was hard to stop laughing (in a good way!) at The Dark World.
Alright, let’s get down to the absolute best aspect of The Dark World: Loki (and, by extension, his relationship with Thor.) Marvel knows how much fans love Loki–from his appearance at San Diego Comic-Con to the added footage that was shot in order to incorporate more Loki to The Dark World. The fans love Loki, but to be honest, I didn’t get all the hype. That is, until this movie. I finally understand why everyone loves Loki and Tom Hiddleston so much: because he is fantastic. I think I needed to see Loki as something other than the main villain of a flick to really appreciate his character as well as Hiddleston’s acting capabilities–which are phenomenal, by the way.
Then there is Loki’s troubled relationship with Thor–and Loki’s troubled relationships with Odin and Frigga. The two brothers have been at odds since about ten (maybe twenty) minutes into Thor. It was nice to see them working together in The Dark World because they discuss their trust issues in between bickering about how to fly a Dark Elf ship and arguing over who should rule as the Allfather of the realms. While the romance between Thor and Jane is nice and cute, the strained relationship between Thor and Loki is much more compelling. From their first film up until The Dark world, the brothers have been at odds and struggling to achieve entirely different goals, so it was interesting to watch Thor and Loki actually work together. It gave viewers a glimpse of what their relationship was like before Loki betrayed Asgard in the beginning of Thor. I hope we get to see more of this brotherly relationship between Thor and Loki in upcoming Marvel films.
All in all, I seriously loved Thor: The Dark World. (Well, ask me again in a week. I have this theory about movie-theater-starry-eyes where you enjoy a movie simply because you saw it in theaters. When I left the theater after Thor 2, I wanted to turn around and watch it again. To me, that’s a pretty good indication I loved the movie.)