“Some believe that before the universe, there was nothing. They’re wrong. There was darkness, and it has survived,” says Odin.
Marvel Studios’ first installment of 2011 was Thor, which was based on the Marvel Comic book character often referred to as the Norse god of thunder. Rather than being actual gods, the Asgardians in the film (and the now-established Marvel Cinematic Universe) were simply beings from another realm whose god-like powers (and not to mention much, much longer life spans) had ancient Vikings mistake them for gods. Thor was a big gamble due to a significant portion of the film taking place on Asgard, but it was a gamble that paid off big-time. It continued Marvel’s winning streak and made a star out of Chris Hemsworth. 2012’s The Avengers increased the popularity of the character, and it was no surprise that Thor’s adventures would continue in his own sequel the year after that. I saw Thor: The Dark World on the big screen not long after it came out, and I enjoyed it as much as the first film (perhaps more so).
2013’s Thor: The Dark World follows Thor as he returns to Earth when his love Jane Foster has been infected by the Aether, an Infinity Stone that can wreak havoc across the realms. The reappearance of the Aether awakens Malekith, an ancient dark elf who is hell bent on reacquiring the Aether to use it to conquer the nine realms. Thor and his allies must protect the realms from Malekith, especially with a rare alignment of the realms approaching. The direction by Alan Taylor (of Game of Thrones fame and the upcoming Terminator Genisys) is strong, upping the level of grittiness a bit from the previous film. Returning cast members include Chris Hemsworth (as Thor), Natalie Portman (as Jane Foster), Tom Hiddleston (as Loki), Anthony Hopkins (as Odin), Stellan Skarsgard (as Erik Selvig), Kat Dennings (as Darcy), Rene Russo (as Frigga), Idris Elba (as Heimdall, Jaimie Alexander (as Sif), Ray Stevenson (as Volstagg), and Tadanobu Asano (as Hogun). New cast members include Christopher Eccleston (as Malekith), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (as Algrim), Chris O’Dowd (as Richard), Alice Krige (as Eir), Zachary Levi (taking over as Fandral), and Benicio Del Toro (as Taneleer Tivan/the Collector). There’s also a hilarious Chris Evans cameo that must be seen to be believed.
The screenplay by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely raises the stakes for this film and adds more humor (humor that naturally arises from the drama rather than being shoehorned in at the cost of story and character). The production design by Charles Wood is impressive, as is Kramer Morgenthau’s cinematography and Wendy Partridge’s costume designs (I loved the new Asgardian costumes). The makeup design by Karen Cohen, David White, and Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou was top-notch (I was really surprised that it didn’t get a Best Makeup Oscar nod). The special effects were incredible (the inter-dimensional battle between Thor and Malekith alone is worth the price of admission), and the editing by Dan Lebental and Wyatt Smith moves the film at a terrific pace. Brian Tyler delivers an epic, action-packed score (complete with chorus) with a new heroic theme for Thor (one that sounds like it matured and evolved from Patrick Doyle’s Thor motif from the previous film). Thor: The Dark World was another excellent and fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, providing another rousing semi-cosmic adventure for the mighty Thor.