This article comes from Den of Geek UK. It contains spoilers for Thor: The Dark World and the wider MCU.
After the one-two punch of The Avengers and Iron Man 3, the second Thor solo movie – Thor: The Dark World – was always going to struggle. Perhaps it would be viewed more favorably had it not followed two of the MCU’s top entries, but the juxtaposition is no excuse.
Despite bringing back fan-favorite Tom Hiddleston as Loki and casting Christopher Eccleston as the sadly underdeveloped Malekith, the film struggles to find its feet and on any given day is likely to land squarely at the bottom end of anyone’s MCU rankings.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s irredeemable. Even the low end of the MCU usually outclasses a fair number of its cinematic peers. We get some great interactions between Thor and Loki, we get to spend time in Asgard seeing how its society works, and we get some great scenes set in a variety of London landmarks that give the film a real sense of place. Hiddleston especially brings a lot to the movie just by turning up and doing his Loki thing, providing us with a solid follow-up to The Avengers and showing us what happens to the bad guy after he loses.
Generally speaking, though, the film doesn’t quite cohere. The threat doesn’t quite feel tangible, and Eccleston is given little to nothing to do with himself. He spends most of the film babbling in a made-up language to his even-less-interesting minions. Even for the most committed Marvelite, it’s hard to care about what this guy is after and how he plans to achieve it.
Where the movie does improve on its predecessor is giving Thor and Jane some decent material together, making her a little less of a bystander and at least managing to tie Thor’s attempt to save all nine worlds with his attempt to save the love of his life. Incoming (then outgoing) director Alan Taylor was an alum of Game of Thrones and that shows in the operatic drama at the center of the movie, although it’s the Thor/Loki relationship that gets the real focus.
Props, too, have to be given to Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, the millennial intern who divides viewers. If you’re fan of Dennings and her comedic performances, she’s probably the best thing about the movie. If you’re not… it could get trying. But if you can’t raise a smile at the mere idea of Jane’s intern having an intern of her own, it’s safe to say you’re missing out on one of the more fun aspects of a movie that is a lot more serious than it maybe should have been. Dennings’ wisecracks keep the narrative from becoming dour and give a little sizzle to the exposition, and that’s an important role in this cast.
In the end, perhaps the best thing we can say about Thor: The Dark World is that it gave us the chance to hang out with these characters again, and that’s enough to make it worth existing. Do we wish it was better? Who doesn’t? But if nothing else, it proves that even one of the least-celebrated entries in the MCU is still going to entertain you enough to be worth revisiting. Plenty of movies can’t guarantee that.
Standout scene: There’s a lot about Thor: The Dark World that doesn’t quite work, and part of that is how the action never really lands. There are a few little touches that do work – Jane and company encountering the floating vehicles is one, Thor on the tube is a memorable little moment (not least for the games of Thor-nington Crescent it inspired), and Jane’s date with Chris O’Dowd being interrupted by Darcy is good for a laugh. But the only one that gives us that pure Marvel joy feeling is Loki impersonating Captain America during the jailbreak and the surprise Chris Evans cameo.
Best quip: There are some good exchanges of dialogue between Odin and Frigga and Thor and Loki, but for one-liners, it’s got to be Chris Evans as Loki as Captain America. “Ooh! Costume’s a bit much; it’s so tight. But the confidence! I can feel the righteousness surging! Hey, you wanna have a rousing discussion about truth, honor, patriotism?” God bless America indeed. A special mention for Darcy’s “Myuh-mur!” callback too, which is the thing most people seem to remember about this film.
First appearances: We think we’re right in saying that no one who makes their first appearance in this movie comes back for another go, but Fandral is played by Zachary Levi for the first of two times, providing a good opportunity for you to score points next time a pub quiz question comes up about which actors have appeared in both the MCU and the DCEU (Levi also plays the adult Billy Batson in Shazam!).
So long, farewell: Frigga (Rene Russo), who dies defending Jane from the Dark Elves and gets quite a nice send-off. And, of course, Malekith, Kurse, and any other villains who were bussed in so Thor had something to hit in this movie. As it turns out, this movie is also the last time that we see Jane Foster (unsurprising) and Darcy Lewis (sob).
It’s all connected: There are a few links to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe here, including one that’s going to become pretty important to the future of the Infinity saga…
• The Aether – later revealed to be the Reality Stone (and in fact only the second Infinity Stone to be confirmed at this point) – makes its debut in this movie. It will go on to play a memorable part in Avengers: Infinity War.
• As previously mentioned, Loki impersonates Captain America, drawing on his experiences fighting him in The Avengers.
• Jane Foster gives Thor a good slap in the face and asks, “Where were you!?” which isn’t entirely unrelated to the fact that he turned up on Earth during The Avengers and then left again for months without saying hello.
• The Bifrost bridge has been repaired using the power of the Tesseract, which Thor finally retrieved from Earth in – say it with me now – The Avengers.
Credit check: Two post-credits sequences here. The first gives Thor and Jane their reunion as he finally returns to Earth so that they can pursue their romantic relationship properly. Spoilers: it does not work out.
In the next post-credits sequence, Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) deliver the Aether to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) in his menagerie, revealing that it and the Tesseract are, in fact, two of the six Infinity Stones. A big deal if you’re a Marvel fan. This scene also gave us our first look at the world of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and while the initial reaction was somewhat negative, it’s fair to say the opinion turned around once that film itself was out.
What are your thoughts on Thor: The Dark World? Have we missed your favorite moment or reference? Let us know in the comments below…