Now that the first trailer for “Thor: Ragnarok” has been released, it looks like the third time might be the charm for the series. While not bad by any means, the “Thor” movies have nowhere near the impact and recognition that some other Marvel films have. Movies like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” have always stood out of the pack as strong contenders for the bests of the Marvel franchise.
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After a strong cinematic debut in “Thor,” a movie that successfully introduced Asgardian mythology to audiences and made them care about the God of Thunder, many fans were let down by “Thor: The Dark World.” Where they expected a darker movie that dug deeper into Asgard, they instead got a much lighter affair that took place mostly on Earth. But in true Marvel fashion, there was still a lot to love in the movie. Join us today as we take a look at seven things “Thor: The Dark World” got right, and eight it got very wrong.
15. WRONG: MALEKITH
In the movie’s opening prologue, we were promised a ruthless villain that was willing to sacrifice his entire army just so he could make his escape and have another chance to destroy all of reality. Surely someone as devoted and driven as this was a complicated character, a villain who had a story to tell and a heart filled with hate and vengeance. But while this might all be true in theory, it’s something we never got to see on the screen.
As the villain of the story, Malekith turned out to have a very big lack of depth. Through a few bits of dialogue, we heard that he had lost his family and that that was the reason he was looking to exact his revenge, but we were never clear on what exactly had happened to them. This was something we should have heard a lot more about, if not see entirely. Malekith could have been a great villain, one that we could have sympathized with, but he only came off as a very one-note character.
14. RIGHT: THOR AND LOKI, RELUCTANT PARTNERS
After seeing Thor and Loki battle as enemies first in “Thor,” then in “The Avengers” when Loki brought his war to planet Earth, “The Dark World” followed by bringing a whole new twist to their relationship, that of reluctant partners. In his quest to save an Aether-possessed Jane and defeat Malekith, Thor enlisted to help of his dear brother, who had spent his time since his attack on New York locked in a cell in Asgard’s dungeons. After the loss of their mother, the warring brothers were able to find some common ground.
A team-up between Thor and Loki was something that everyone was excited to see unfold. Thor was appropriately cautious of his mischievous brother and Loki relished every bit of it, finding a bit of fun everywhere he could as they plotted their escape out of Asgard and into the Dark World. The icing on that cake came when Loki surprised no one by betraying Thor once again, only for it to be revealed that this was all a ruse, a devious plan concocted by both brothers to fool Malekith. A plan that even managed to fool us in the audience.
13. WRONG: THE AETHER
The Aether was introduced early on in the movie as an ancient weapon of infinite power that could bring darkness to the universe itself. But it turns out that its powers and capabilities were extremely vague. Somehow, it was able to call to Jane across dimensions and bring her to it. It took possession of her and was even briefly seen influencing her. We were also told it showed her some sort of dark future, but it was never clear if that was the actual future or not.
Finally, when Malekith took control of the Aether, we saw it work as a weapon that could be aimed, taking the form of swirling constructs that were neither liquid nor solid. It’s unclear how Malekith intended to use this power to extinguish light in the universe, even as we saw the Aether slowly swirl its way into portals to the other realms. In the mid-credits scene of the film, we would find out that the Aether was in fact the Reality Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones, strongest and most dangerous in the universe. And still, compared to the others, it’s still unclear what it can do.
12. RIGHT: OPENING PROLOGUE
“The Dark World” opened with an exciting prologue that was heavy on action and Asgardian mythology. Similar to the opening of “Thor,” where Odin spoke of Asgard’s history, this time the All-Father’s voice-over told of a story of the Dark Elves and their evil leader Malekith. Armed with the Aether, Malekith sough to annihilate life across the nine realms, but his attempts were foiled by the arrival of Odin’s father King Bor and his forces.
It was then that we saw a spectacular battle between the forces of Asgard and the Dark Elves. The Asgardians were much different than what we had seen in the first “Thor” movie. This time around, they were armed with swords that shined white and they fought more elegantly, deadly and precisely. We got our first taste of Kurse in action and we saw the potential in Malekith to be a great villain when he sacrificed his own army just so he could buy but a few seconds to make his escape. This was an opening prologue that was as satisfactory as it was promising, and raised our expectations considerably early on.
11. WRONG: CUCKOO SELVIG
Erik Selvig was a great addition to the first “Thor” movie. He even went on to have a rather important role in “The Avengers” and had a small part to play in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” In fact, he worked so well as a character that while he didn’t hail from the comics, Selvig did manage to transition into them after his appearances in the movies. As a scientist, his knowledge has proven instrumental and his friendship with Thor was proven to be one that the Asgardian himself was very fond of.
These notions made it all the more disappointing to see Selvig turn into a shell of his former self in “The Dark World.” The idea behind it was that he had developed an instability as to his mental capabilities after being controlled by Loki back in “The Avengers.” While that could have been an interesting fallout to explore, it was mostly played for cheap laughs that involved Selvig without his pants on. Considering that Loki went on to control many others, including Hawkeye, it seems odd that Selvig would be the only one who suffered such side-effects.
10. RIGHT: ATTACK ON ASGARD
As soon as Jane Foster had become possessed by the Aether, the ancient force called to Malekith once more. And so, once Thor had taken Jane to Asgard in the hopes of freeing her from the control of the Aether, it wasn’t long before Malekith and his army came knocking at Asgard’s gates for what was rightfully his. It was then that we were treated to a great siege sequence that started with Heimdall, the Gatekeeper, fulfilling his duties in an awesome display of his capabilities.
With Asgard under attack, we saw the Dark Elves storm the city with their ships and lay waste to its defenses in a stunning sequence of laser cannons and explosions, giving us more of the sci-fi flair to this medieval-inspired world. Heimdall raised the massive shield and yet it was no use: Malekith and a battalion had managed to make it into the castle. Malekith may not have gotten what he came to get, but he still did manage to deal a heavy blow not only to Odin and Thor, but to Asgard as a whole.
9. WRONG: JANE IN ASGARD
When Jane Foster became possessed by the Aether in a bit of a wrong place at the wrong time type of situation, she was made the focal point of the story. Recognizing her power as something dangerous and otherworldly, Thor decided to bring Jane into Asgard. This was meant to be a reversal of the situation in the first film, where Thor was the fish out of water. This time around, it was Jane’s turn to be the stranger from a strange land.
But where this was used to great effect in the first film, little was made of it in the sequel. Jane met Thor’s parents and wore the appropriate garments, but that was nearly the end of it. She held her own against Loki and she marveled once at the technology that the Asgardians used. There were hints of excitement in Jane at the wonder of it all, but not nearly enough instances to justify bringing her into Asgard. Instead, circumstances quickly brought her out of Asgard and out of commission until the Aether was removed from her.
8. RIGHT: KURSE
When it comes to Kurse, “The Dark World” changed some aspects of the mythology surrounding the character, like the fact that his powers and hulking appearance were gained by activating a powerful relic, something that the user could not revert from. This was evidenced when we first saw another Dark Elf turn into Kurse in the opening prologue of the movie. In the comic books, there is only one Kurse and he is Algrim the Dark Elf, the strongest of his kind.
In “The Dark World” however, we saw Algrim, Malekith’s lieutenant, willingly sacrifice himself to become the last Kurse. He infiltrated Asgard as a prisoner and, from the inside, he started an attack that decimated Asgard’s defenses. At Malekith’s side, we saw the cruel and terrifying Kurse we always wanted to see, one who’s look even managed to outshine that of the comics. He was a more efficient villain than Malekith, in that he was the one who killed Frigga and managed to “fatally” wound Loki… but not before Loki could send him to Hel.
7. WRONG: THE INTERN AND THE INTERN’S INTERN
As if Thor didn’t have enough human friends already, “The Dark World” saw it fit to not only bring them all back, but also to add even more. Darcy was a character who had just enough of a comic relief role in the first “Thor” to be endearing, but while she could have had the same small role in the sequel, she was now part of the action. Plus, to make matters worse, she had her very own intern to try and bring in more laughs. That’s right, the comic relief character now had its own comic relief character.
The inclusion of this new intern was nowhere near necessary and it proved once again to be an excuse for more weak comedy. Instead of letting the characters we already knew shine even more, instead of bringing the focus back on the Asgardians and Malekith, we instead got to see Darcy and her intern crack jokes and inexplicably hold their own against the formidable ancient warriors that were the Dark Elves. In fact, the time devoted to them could have been used to see more of some old friends, whom we’ll address later on in this list.
6. RIGHT: FRIGGA’S FUNERAL
While Malekith’s attack on Asgard to lay claim to the Aether proved unfruitful, he still managed to leave his mark when he had Thor’s mother, the Queen of Asgard, killed. Once the attack was over and Malekith and the Dark Elves gone in retreat, Asgard took the time to mourn their dead. It would have been easy to ignore such a quiet and emotional moment, yet it did wonders for the film, bringing its characters to a mourning stage and showing just how much Frigga’s death was important.
The funeral was especially moving. First, the Viking tradition was honored by showing the Queen and the fallen soldiers’ bodies let out onto the river, archers letting their flaming arrows loose. Then, Asgard’s more space-influences showed each of its people holding Asgard’s equivalent to paper lanterns in the form or magical orbs. To the notes of a moving score, the people let these orbs beautifully rise into the sky like stars in a stunning and magical display of a kingdom united in grief.
5. WRONG: THE WARRIORS THREE AND SIF’S MINIMAL ROLES
With so much of the movie’s story revolving around Jane being possessed by the Aether, with the story taking Thor to the Dark World to save her and so much of the action taking place on Earth, there was little time for Thor’s friends, the Warriors Three and the Lady Sif to actually see any sort of development. In fact, poor Hogun got the short end of stick early on in the movie when Thor obliged him to stay in his realm to be with his own people.
Then, it only got progressively worse as Sif was relegated to baring feelings of jealousy towards Jane. Then, Volstagg, Fandral and she took part in a mission to help Thor break Loki out of the dungeons and escape out of Asgard with Jane. It sure was nice to see these characters back in action, but their roles were all too short. They only served to help Jane instead of taking part in the final battle against Malekith and the Dark Elves, where they would have proven far more useful.
4. RIGHT: THE FINAL BATTLE
When it came time for Thor and Malekith to face off in their final battle, “The Dark World” certainly didn’t hold back. With Malekith now possessed by the Aether, he was on equal ground with the God of Thunder, and their battle was made all the more spectacular thanks to the use of all nine realms nearly converging. Because the realities were so close to each other, physics had gone a little haywire and that allowed for the hero and villain to pop in and out of different realms.
The battle may have started and ended on Earth, but it did manage to take us through a lot of different places in a very short amount of time. Not only did the battle teleport them all over London, from down in the subway to the top of its buildings, it also took Thor and Malekith to various other realms like Jotunheim and the Dark World. All of that portal-hopping was made even more exciting by having Thor’s hammer Mjolnir struggle to find its master, from one place to the next, making Thor more vulnerable as he fought.
3. WRONG: SHARED UNIVERSE
With each subsequent installment in the Marvel Studios franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe only gets bigger and bigger. It has come to the point that the movies all feature other characters, some new, some audiences are familiar with, for big or small roles. From Falcon and War Machine to Black Widow and Spider-Man, we are reminded that this is a world the Avengers exist in. But “The Dark World” failed to capitalize on the shared universe aspect of the MCU.
Of course, we did see a “cameo” by Steve Rogers, but that was just Loki taking his form to play a little joke on Thor. Sadly, this felt like a wasted opportunity, especially after “The Avengers” movie began to explore the Thor and Captain America duo as fellow warriors. An appearance by Steve Rogers would have been better served — and much better appreciated — were it to have shown him fighting the Dark Elves on Earth as Thor battled Malekith from realm to realm in the final battle.
2. RIGHT: A GAME OF THRONES
Before the start of the final act, we witnessed the seeming death of Loki, something that left a lot of his fans, not to mention his brother Thor, heartbroken. It was a suspicious death to be sure, one that some viewers had trouble believing, especially considering Loki’s usual tricks of deception. But with so much happening after all of that, with our attention so focused on Thor and Malekith and their battle across all the realms, we had all but forgotten about Loki.
Which is why, when Thor came to his father for some final words of advice in the closing minutes of the film, we didn’t even notice that Odin was not sitting in his usual manner on the throne. We didn’t catch that he was not squared as usual but leaning to his side, spear in hand. Thor left and Loki revealed himself to be the one sitting on the throne of Asgard, finally, as he had always wanted. It was a shocking ending for sure, a cliffhanger that only left us wondering what would happen next, and what had become of Odin.
1. WRONG: MALEKITH’S DEFEAT
With the power of an Infinity Stone in his possession, Malekith was a dangerous villain, one that was incredibly hard to vanquish. What did it take to defeat him? The intervention of human scientists, who had convenient equipment in their scientific arsenal to teleport him back to his own world in pieces. But this was not always meant to be how Malekith met his end. In fact, as mentioned in the DVD commentary of the movie, Thor was supposed to defeat Malekith in a much different manner.
With portals to all nine realms open and close-by, Thor was originally supposed to summon lightning from every one of these realms and cast it all upon his enemy. How spectacular would that have been to see? Something that would show us Thor’s true, unleashed power as the God of Thunder. But instead, that awesome display of power was dropped to give Thor’s human sidekicks a role to play in the final battle against Malekith. We can only hope that future movies will finally show us what we could have seen were it not for this change of direction. We really want to see what Thor is truly capable of.
What did you think of “Thor: The Dark World?” Let us know in the comments!