Welcome back to Second Union’s coverage of the MCU films, leading up to Avengers: Infinity War. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the second film in Phase 2: 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. It follows Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who must stop Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) from destroying the Nine Realms with an object called the Aether. In more ways than not, it’s one of the more disappointing entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That being said, it still has redeeming elements aside from its underwhelming characters and plot.
The first scene introduces us to Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves and the “big bad” of the film. It’s a shame he’s such a horrible antagonist. The worst part about him is surprisingly not the monotonous speeches he gives about destroying the Nine Realms. It’s also not the fact that his army is literally just another batch of faceless goons. While those are two things that definitely make his character unlikable, the real kicker is that he’s just so boring. He’s never given any depth, any meaningful reason as to why he wants to destroy the realms. He just…does. At least he’s utilizing an Infinity Stone to do it, and not some useless, lame weapon.
The next big scene takes us to Vanaheim, featuring an impressive battle that only lasts for…a minute and a half. This is the earliest example of how much of a letdown the action sequences are in the movie. There aren’t many, and when they are, they’re too boring to be even considered action sequences. However, there is one scene that outweighs the ones mentioned above. The invasion of Asgard by Malekith’s army is truly awesome in many ways. It’s fast-paced, entertaining, impactful, and even reminiscent of a Star Wars flick. The ships flying about and the impressive CGI make it one of the few scenes in the film worth remembering.
Tom Hiddleston, once again, steals the show as Loki, Thor’s adoptive brother. For those who loved him in the first Thor and The Avengers, he truly shines in this film. While he was given an emotional arc in the former, and was more fun in the latter, what makes his performance in this film different is that you don’t know whether he’s helping our hero or turning on him. It’s easier to tell in some cases than others. However, he still manages to keep the charisma of the God of Mischief. Though now that we know his “death” was a fake-out, it’s pretty annoying seeing it happen.
Also dragging the film down is the side characters. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) plays a bigger role in the film this time around, but she’s still not exactly enjoyable, and the focus on her arc more than Thor’s is an unwelcome plot element. At least we actually get to see Thor doing godly things instead of watching him stranded on New Mexico. Jane’s intern Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) is also back, and she’s twice as annoying as she was in the first film. She even has an intern, who basically does nothing throughout the entire movie. Even Erik Selvig, the scientist who played a big part in Thor and The Avengers is pretty much useless here.
Thor: The Dark World is a low point for the MCU, and for the God of Thunder. Its action sequences are bland and uninteresting. The characters are poorly written, and the story (yet again) focuses too much on the arcs nobody cares about. The villain is underdeveloped and poorly executed. There are some entertaining elements, most of them involving Loki, but not enough to redeem the film’s glaring flaws. Overall, the film isn’t as problematic as the first Thor, but neither could give us what we all wanted from a solo Thor film.
Thor: The Dark World stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Rene Russo. Directed by Alan Taylor.