**CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK**
In short: yes.
After being exceedingly disappointed with Marvel’s first Phase 2 entry, Iron Man 3, I went into Thor: The Dark World as a skeptical and jaded fan. I am happy to report, however, that I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.
Yet, it was not without its flaws.
But, before I get into all of that, here’s a summary first:
When Thor: The Dark World opens, Odin chronicles a time when darkness ruled and the Dark Elves, led by big bad Malekith, reveled in such darkness. That order gets disrupted and the Dark Elves attempt to return all the realms to that bleak state.
However, Bor, Odin’s father, mounts a legion of Asgardian forces to prevent their victory.
Eventually, they succeed in stopping the them and take away the source of their power, the Aether (which is apparently a powerful, liquid [and fluid] force…yeah, that’s all I got). They then lock it away in some far away realm where no one is supposed to find it.
You can imagine how that goes.
Eventually, we are brought to the present where Loki is brought before Odin for his heinous crimes during The Battle of New York. As always, Loki is unapologetic about the ordeal. Having none of Loki’s bullsh*t, Odin sentences Loki to a lifetime of rotting in Asgardian prison. Meanwhile, Thor, Sif, and the Warrior’s Three travel the nine realms and attempt to put a stop to all the uprisings that broke out on account of Loki’s shenanigans on Earth, as well as in Asgard. After they deal with that, they head back to Asgard to drink and be merry. However, Thor isn’t into partying this time around, since his mind he has Jane on his mind. He eventually finds his way to Heimdall, wanting to know how Jane is doing.
On the other side of the universe (in London), Jane Foster continues to search for Thor. In her mad search, she stumbles upon a weird gravitational anomaly (which happens to be the direct result of an impending event called “The Convergence”. During the convergence, all nine realms, including places like Midgard [Earth], Asgard, and Jotunheim all become aligned. This causes gravity to go apesh*t and physics to become null and void) that ends up transporting her to the same far away realm that the Aether was buried in (surprise, surprise!). As a result, the Aether takes over her body as a host and this simultaneously awakens Malekith and his Dark Elves.
Back on Asgard, Heimdall informs Thor that he has lost sight of Jane and Thor immediately resolves to find and save his lady love before the Aether ends up consuming her (and before Malekith can get his grimey hands on her [thus securing the Aether] and unleash the power of the Aether upon the entire universe, thus plunging everyone into darkness once again).
Anyways, I really enjoyed the film and it was a far superior to its predecessor, Thor (2011). However, I have some reservations (good, bad, and “eh”) about the movie.
I actually didn’t see Thor until it came out on DVD and I initially thought that Asgard looked simply okay. However, after watching it at a friend’s house in HD, I discovered that Asgard looked beyond cartoon-y and you could basically see where the CGI was placed.
When I witnessed Asgard in Thor: The Dark World, I immediately experienced a “f*ck yeah” moment. Asgard looked so much more beautiful and legitimate. Granted, Asgard is supposed to be some far away realm that is super advanced and all, but I’m seriously tipping my hat off to Alan Taylor for making me believe that the place could actually exist.
Character Growth and Development (and Screen Time)
Heimdall definitely got more to do this movie and that made me very happy. For example, there’s a really epic scene where Heimdall takes down an elf ship when the Dark Elves invade and it made me respect his character even more. I look forward to seeing more of him in Thor 3.
The Women of Thor: The Dark World (Frigga, Jane, Sif and Darcy)
What I found super refreshing about this movie is the fact that there wasn't only one obligatory female character shoe-horned into the movie to make it appear “diverse”. Instead, there were four well-developed and complex female characters in the movie and they all served a purpose.
For example, though I was rather annoyed with presence of Jane and Darcy in the first movie, Jane proves to be really instrumental in resolving the plot and ends up saving the world from the all-powerful Aether. As for Darcy, she definitely maintains her role as comic relief, but she shows that she can be serious when the moment calls for it.
As for Frigga and Sif, they continue to prove to me that Asgardian women are not to be f*cked with. Not only do we get to see them both kick major ass (Frigga ends up putting the smackdown on Malekith with her impressive sword-wielding skills and does a lot of cool sh*t with her own magic, while Sif impressively holds her own on the battlefield next to Thor), but they also serve to be instrumental to the plot…especially where Frigga is concerned.
Let’s just be real, Odin is supposed to be an asshole and a terrible father and we only got a gist of that in the first movie.
In this film, Odin assumes the role of asshole king and I loved every minute of it! Not only does he act rather irrationally when trying to decide what to do after the Dark Elf invasion, but he immediately abhors Jane presence in Asgard, chalking up her illness to her being human, since “illness is their defining” trait. (That line made me want to punch him in his f*cking face, which is good. Odin shouldn't be all lovable and sh*t).
I was definitely impressed with the extent of Thor’s development. Without giving too much away, you can definitely tell that Thor is such a different man than he was in Thor or The Avengers. For example, you know Thor has come a long way when he ends up being the voice of reason between himself and Odin (I mean, seriously. He ends up making Odin look like a senile, old man after the invasion of the Dark Elves). He’s come a long way and I’m excited to see his story continue.
As always, Loki stole the f*cking show and I enjoyed every minute of it. Every time he spoke or uttered some wicked one-liner, I found it hilarious and not cheesy at all. Additionally, I really like how this movie refrained from definitively painting him as a hero or a villain and instead focused on the complexity of his character. I found this extremely important since we were given a very lackluster villain in the form of Malekith. I look forward to the next time we will see this trickster (see: troll) on-screen.
Loki and Odin
Though these two only interact in one scene at the beginning of the movie, this scene ends up speaking volumes about their relationship.
In the scene, after Loki smugly dismisses Odin’s critical comments by saying that ruling is his “birthright”, Odin calmly tells him that his “birthright” was to die in the cold, alone, after his father abandoned him in Jotunheim. And when I heard that, I was like “DAMN”.
On one hand, that was definitely harsh for Odin to say, but at the same time, that comment served to illustrate how disappointed Odin was in Loki and how betrayed he felt by his actions. And even though one would think that Loki would give virtually no sh*ts about what Odin had to say, the sadness on his face when those words were uttered was a sight to behold. Their relationship is not as simple as merely “hating each other”. It’s way more complex and that’s a good thing.
Frigga and Loki
I love this relationship in the film because it proves that Loki is a more complex character than people realize. Yeah, maybe he utterly detests his adopted father, Odin, but there’s absolutely no way he could ever hate his adopted mom, Frigga. Not only is Frigga the only one to visit him before sh*t pops off in Asgard, but you can tell that Frigga retains hope that Loki will eventually right all his wrongs and be good again. So, it makes sense that Loki eventually attempts to do just that on account of Frigga.
Loki and Thor
Ever since The Avengers concluded last year, I have been waiting to see the dynamic between Thor and Loki explored even further. It was interesting to see the implications of New York act upon their relationship. I mean, regardless off the fact that Loki was basically leaning more toward the dark side and all, they were still brothers in Thor’s eyes and it was interesting to see Thor attempting to make himself forget that fact and put it aside.
Every interaction they had brought more gravitas to the plot and to the movie as a whole and I look forward to seeing them interact in future movies.
Thor and Jane
Man, did I have some reservations about this relationship when I first watched Thor. The absurdity of their rushed, under-developed, barely 2-day relationship made me want to scream and punch everything and everyone in the face. And on top of that, their relationship unnecessarily bogged the plot down with pointless romance.
Thor: The Dark World handles this a lot better in the fact that their relationship doesn't take super-ultra-la-mega center stage like it did in the previous film. This time around, they handle their developing relationship like true adults and like people who generally love and respect each other. A good example is the whole plot point of Jane being infected with the Aether. Both of them know that there is a chance that Jane could die, and while Thor is concerned, neither of them let that possibility blind them from the responsibilities at hand. They have a world to save and their content with saving it together, whatever happens.
Also, the movie gets bonus points just because of the fact that I never got an “Oh, not this sh*t again” feeling when they interacted.
Sif and Thor and Jane
Thankfully, this particular dynamic didn’t descend into a crazy ass, melodramatic love triangle that makes you question the sanity of people…a la Twilight style.
Although Sif ends up giving Jane the side-eye like twice, there is nothing inherently petty about this particular relationship and both women are civil to one another. Sif may care deeply for Thor, but she also understands that she is his friend and a warrior first, thus avoiding any potential conflict with Jane. Likewise, Jane doesn’t really have time to be insecure about Sif hanging around Thor because she has an evil, life-sucking force coursing through her veins that she needs to get rid off.
Instead, the film merely teases the idea of tension between the three, through the eyes of Thor. From where I’m standing, Sif and Jane end up representing two conflicting desires within Thor: his desire to serve and protect his own people and his desire to protect and live among the people of Earth (respectively). And I will take that over some bum ass Twilight love triangle any day.
Cameos and After-Credit Scenes
- Captain America (Chris Evans) has a cameo that is just PURE GOLD! I felt like that scene was ripped straight out of a comic book and it was absolutely stunning, amazing and funny. I loved it. 10/10, would watch again.
- The Collector Scene
The Collector (Benecio del Toro) does show up by the end of the movie and not only ends up having ties to the all-powerful Aether, but he also has ties to the other “Infinity Stones” (previously known as Gems) as well. We’ve clearly not seen the last of The Collector or heard the last reference to the Infinity Gauntlet. And that definitely gets me excited for future films like Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Weak Villain
It’s no secret that I love Christopher Eccleston and honestly, I was pumped to see him as a villain. However, I have to admit that I was really underwhelmed with his character, Malekith. The threat level that he emitted didn’t seem sufficient to me. Don’t get me wrong. Eccleston did his best with what he was given, but there could have been so much more to him, especially after the really intriguing back-story that we were provided with via Odin’s voice-over at the beginning of the movie.
Regardless, however, Eccleston’s Malekith ultimately served his purpose of being the “big bad” and to be honest, I think Loki stepped up to fill the void just fine.
Lack of Screen Time For Sif and The Warriors Three
One of my favorite parts of Thor movie was seeing the Sif and the Warrior’s Three on-screen and in action, especially in their quest to find Thor. With Thor: The Dark World, I didn’t nearly get to see them as much. They appeared in a couple of scenes and then they were gone…completely. But, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by their reduced appearance, especially considering the surprisingly short run-time of movie.
Darcy (and her intern)
Unlike most people, I don’t particularly hate Darcy. In fact, she says and does most of the things I myself would do if I were in a situation where I had to experience the pure f*ckery that is demigods, Dark Elves, and gravitational anomalies firsthand. Conversely, I could have done without her…and her new sidekick, Ian (I mean, no offense, but why exactly did the intern need an intern? Granted, it makes for a couple of laughs, but still).
The (Lack of) Explanation of the Bifrost
When the Thor: The Dark World trailer dropped a couple of months back, I had presumed that because of how updated the Bifrost bridge looked, we’d be getting an explanation about how Thor got back to the Earth in The Avengers and how they were able to rebuild the bridge.
However, there’s no clear cut explanation for anything bridge-related. Thor starts explaining himself when he finally sees Jane again, but he doesn’t get to finish because Jane rages at him. As a result, I ended up assuming that after like two years, it was more than enough time to rebuild it or whatever, but still. Some explanation besides Loki’s throw away “Dark Magic” line in The Avengers would have been nice.
The Aether definitely falls prey to what I call “The Tesseract Syndrome”. What I mean by this is the fact that the movie saw fit to namedrop this particular MacGuffin/world-ending power source/ancient artifact like 7689432984723 times without actually explaining what the sh*t does.
This was irksome for me because just like the Tesseract, I would’ve have appreciated knowing about how the Aether operated. Was it supposed to be dark matter? Was it supposed to be anti-matter? Was it merely just a force of darkness and nothing more than that? This is the kind of explanation I would have appreciated, rather than just simply stating that it was “super powerful” or “all-consuming”.
To be honest, I did like the humor in this film a lot more than the humor in Iron Man 3. Without it, the movie might’ve seriously ascended into some next-level, Man of Steel bleakness.
With that being said, my main qualm is with the Eric Selvig Stonehenge scene. In the film, Eric Selvig appears to have gone batsh*t crazy due to Loki f*cking around with his brain for a majority of The Avengers (which is an outcome/implication of New York that I can actually believe; so kudos to Marvel on that). So, he eventually ends up buck ass nude at Stonehenge, rambling about what we later discover is “The Convergence”. The first time this was shown, I laughed out loud. However, the movie ended up coming back to this scene multiple times and it eventually got annoying and took away some of the initial humor of the scene. Whatever the case, I do think Marvel is getting better with handling it’s penchant for humor.
In closing, Thor: The Dark World didn’t blow my mind like movies like The Dark Knight or The Avengers, but it was a very solid movie and I would watch it again if presented with the opportunity. I’m looking forward to a third Thor installment.
(You can check out my original article [snark and all] here.)