This second installation of the Thor franchise starts off with a slew of pretty typical storylines: a budding love triangle, the damsel in distress schlock, a literal (maybe?) Oedipus complex story, the disobedient son that is ultimately correct and victorious in the end, the whole primogeniture thing, the fighting to protect one’s home (or, in this case, the entire universe). But what does one expect? This is a work of marketing genius, riding the wave of success from The Avengers, and the effective marketing is apparent throughout: there are several references to the story events in The Avengers, twists galore, and tantalizingly great teasers at the end.
The film begins with an ancient mythic battle scene with Asgardians fighting the evil Dark Elves, who are some foreign race helmed by some megalomaniac who, of course, wants to take over the universe with the most powerful weapon known to mankind. Even despite the literal universal threat, the stakes feel low; we, the audience, are not consumed in suspense. The action itself is good, but the humor in the film takes us out of the potential suspense and seriousness of the plot, and, at the end of the day, we are more concerned with the characters and the relationships between Jane and Thor and, even more importantly, between Thor and Loki.
In fact, this movie is the triumphant return of Loki. Who could’ve imagined his prominence in the franchise at large from the first Thor? I could. Tom Hiddleston portrays the lovable villain expertly, giving him such dimension; Loki is by far the most developed and interesting character (which is no fault of the other actors- for example, Chris Hemsworth is still great as Thor, and Idris Elba manages to bring more life to Heimdall), and, this time around, he is bitter, snarky, defeated, and a prisoner of Asgard. He is the source of most- if not all- of the great twists that the movie contains, and Hiddleston along with Loki’s original introduction make you just want to love him. Yes, he destroyed New York (and by the way, this time, London is the chosen city for complete annihilation), yes, he has all the attitude and self-righteousness of a proper villain (and he probably literally enacts his Oedipal complex…), but, for a second, he reveals his true self; he can’t be all bad, right? I still love and believe in the character, and he shows no signs of fading away.
There is also a refreshing change of scenery in the film. We spend much more time in Asgard and other fantastical worlds, which allows for some beautiful 3D spaces (even though I ironically found an establishing shot of London to be the most beautiful use of 3D in the entire film). There is a great action sequence in Odin’s castle and throughout the entire kingdom, allowing us to see more of Asgard; all of this aesthetic brilliance culminates in a particularly beautiful and spectacular funeral sequence.
Yeah, the movie is typical and expected, but it’s done well and generally effective. The creators obviously have expansive source material in the comics, so they have a great starting point in producing an excellent product. Thor: The Dark World is definitely a must see; it won’t disappoint. It’s all fun; it does what it’s supposed to do and makes you excited for what’s to come.