Revisiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 08 – Thor (The Dark World)

Revisiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 08 – Thor (The Dark World)

Thor (The Dark World) has the dubious distinction of being the only film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I didn’t see in theaters.  Granted, I did buy it on Blu-Ray the day it came out and watched it within the couple of days afterwards, but for whatever reason I never found the time to actually go to the theater while it was there.  Maybe it was overdue disappointment from Iron Man 3, or maybe it’s just because Thor has never been my favorite Marvel hero, but the fact remains that it has been the only film (and likely will be the only film) that I didn’t consider important enough to see theatrically.

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I vaguely recall thinking the movie was pretty much fine when I saw it on Blu Ray a few years ago, but nothing special.  It felt unremarkable, in fact, very few moments within the film stuck with me, which is partly why I was somewhat excited to watch it again.  Perhaps it would kind of feel like the first time?

In fact, it did feel that way to a degree, and I found myself enjoying Thor (The Dark World) quite a bit more than I remembered originally.

The film really centers around the Aether, a mystical energy that was the source of generations of battle between Asgard and the Dark Elves.  As we all know now, the Aether is really one of the Infinity Stones, and certainly plays havok with the world in this movie.  After a flashback to the battle which banished Malekith the Accursed and his crew, we end up in London where Jane Foster is trying to forget the events of the first film, but as one might expect, she gets wrapped back up in cosmic craziness, stumbling across the fragile link joining universes.  The Aether is at the core of this link and while investigating the phenomenon, Jane ends up becoming “one” with the Aether of sorts, and as a result becomes dramatically ill.  Thor arrives and brings her back to Asgard, where the adventure really begins.

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A lot of the film takes place in Asgard and we see some great interaction between Thor, Odin, his mother, and Loki with some beautiful scenery from Asgard itself.  We also see that when Jane interfaced with the Aether, it sent a signal, waking Malekith, who creates Kurse and vows to hunt down the Aether and reclaim it.

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Lots of action takes place here, with the Dark Elves bringing the fight to Asgard, resulting in the death of Thor’s mother and the temporary defeat of the Dark Elves.  Knowing they won’t give up until the Aether (and Jane) belong to them again, Thor frees Loki and goes to the Dark World to lead them away.

Amidst all of the action (I really love the fight between Thor and Kurse), Loki is believed to have been killed.  Meanwhile, the link between worlds completely breaks down and the final act traverses different universes, with London taking the brunt of the damage.  As with the first Thor film, there’s a healthy helping of humor to balance out the action, and in this sequel, Thor obviously is a more developed and well-rounded super hero.  I love how Marvel handles his powers, really lifting him above even his Asgardian peers, and shows how even a small event in the grand scheme of things can impact the fragile Earth that serves as its battleground.

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There’s a lot more Asgard here than previously, for better or worse, and Malekith and Kurse aren’t especially captivating villains.  Loki chews up every second of screen time, and really plays to his strengths here.  The Dark World certainly moves the MCU forward, bringing in yet another Infinity Stone, and introducing the Collector in one of the mid-credits scenes. In fact, we finally see the whole story unfolding around the Infinity Stones for the first time here, and totally solidifies the Dark World’s place in the MCU mythology.

SHIELD really has no major place here (at least in the film, they certainly get brought into the action in an episode of the Agents of SHIELD TV series, which features an awesome crossover by Sif).

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The Dark World was considerably more enjoyable than I remember it being originally, but still ends up not feeling necessarily like a “must see”.  Maybe the heavy infusion of Asgardian culture turned me off somewhat, since that was never something I was drawn to in the comics themselves.  The ending of the film was extremely interesting, of course, and leaves an open end that still has not been tied off, so it will be really fascinating to see where that whole angle goes.

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As we look at the film as a whole, it was fun, it was entertaining, but not revolutionary, and especially compared to the next two films, Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, feels like a second rate MCU installment. There aren’t really any low points like we saw in Iron Man 2, but also not as many high points, which leaves it near the bottom of the list of favorites, even though the film itself wasn’t bad.

Ongoing Rank:

#8 – Iron Man 3
#7 – Thor (The Dark World)
#6 – Iron Man 2
#5 – Thor
#4 – Incredible Hulk
#3 – Captain America: The First Avenger
#2 – Iron Man
#1 – Avengers

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