With the impending arrival of Captain America: Civil War, we are taking a look back at the movies that brought the MCU to this point. So take a trip back in time, as we break down Marvel’s Phase 2 film-by-film. You can check out Iron Man 3 here. Up next, our Thor: The Dark World Retro Review.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Summary: A dark force has awakened: The Aether. Along with the emergence of this ancient power, comes the return of the Dark Elves, led by Malekith. They vow revenge on their former enemies of Asgard, and to return the Universe to darkness. Standing in their way is Thor, who is ready for the challenge after finally bringing peace to the Nine Realms. However, he’s not going to be able to stop Malekith alone. He turns to his imprisoned brother Loki to assist him. With the ancient Aether taking possession of Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, Thor now has to save the girl and stop the bad guy. And he has to do this all by himself, since the Avengers are nowhere to be found.
Pros: While The Dark World is an okay, rewatchable movie, it’s clear this movie is one of Marvel’s lackluster releases. On a positive note… Tom Hiddleston (but you knew that already). He’s charming, emotionally attached… and his scenes with Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo are terrific. Lead Chris Hemsworth is solid at looking the part of Thor and incorporating humorous moments, but it’s Hiddleston who carries the emotional weight of the movie.
Cons: The biggest complaint regarding MCU movies is the blase villains. At the top of the boring list is Malekith. It has nothing to do with Christopher Eccleston (The Ninth… and most underrated Doctor). He gives a Shakespearean performance, but in the context of the movie, he comes off as way over the top. Malekith’s character is the living embodiment of someone who woke up on the wrong side of the bed and that’s really it. All he wants is to plunge the Universe into darkness; he’s another world domination guy. You could have gotten a better result if Loki ordered a prison break in an attempt to steal the Aether himself instead of shoehorning in a boring Malekith. Also, his masked cronies are nothing more than orcs combined with Stormtroopers.
There was also a real lack of the Warrior’s Three and Lady Sif. One of the best parts of the first Thor movie was his friends coming to his aid when he was stuck on Midgard. For the second outing, Volstagg and Fandral were barely used… and Hogun is gone after the opening fight scenes. Meanwhile, it looked like Lady Sif, Jane Foster and Thor would get involved in some sort of love triangle… only it never actually manifested. Just felt like a waste of four characters who should have had bigger roles.
Impact on The MCU: The Aether is the biggest thing to come out of The Dark World. It’s the second Infinity Stone to show up in the MCU. We even got a glimpse of The Collector in an after-credits scene. It let the fans know the path Marvel was on, that the Infinity Gauntlet was coming together. As for ‘The Convergence of The Nine Realms,’ the ‘Destruction of London’ and even the ice monster getting transported to Earth… there’s been no mention of those ever since.
Ted’s Take: There are bits to like and bits to hate, but in the end Thor: The Dark World doesn’t seem to fully come together. Director Alan Taylor channeled his Game of Thrones experience by opening the movie with two fun battle scenes (one between the Dark Elves and Asgard and the other with Thor vs Rock Monster). However, both end abruptly. I would have preferred an exaggerated Lord of the Rings-style fight scene over the continuing ramblings on ‘The Convergence.’
Also, chalk up Stellan Skarsgård as another wasted actor (you could also include Idris Elba). A crucial part of The Avengers, Erik Selvig is now a bumbling fool who only gets his sh*t together when the time calls for it. While he tries to explain ‘The Convergence,’ it’s done in such a comical way that it dampers the serious impact of the event. The actual story felt rushed so we could get to the part everyone really wanted… Thor and Loki getting together.
That’s what salvages this film and makes it actually watchable. Tom Hiddleston can work with anyone, and he saves Chris Hemsworth from being relegated to a grunting hero. The chemistry between the two makes you feel like they’re actual brothers stuck in an argument. It’s funny to think that a movie with one of the worst villains (Malekith) is in a movie with one of the best (Loki). Ending on a positive note; seeing Loki sitting on the throne of Asgard at the end of the movie does get me pumped for next year’s Thor: Ragnarok. Hopefully the third installment will end the Thor franchise on a higher note.
Up Next: Captain America: The Winter Soldier!