Marvel seems to have found their niche. While dominating the box office on a seemingly weekly basis, they’ve simultaneously secured themselves a slot on TV, bolstering an already superhero strong resume. The next installment in the Thor franchise, “Thor: The Dark World” evidences Marvel’s continuous stronghold on the media industry. This is one of the rare cases where a sequel outshines the original film. 2011’s “Thor” wasn’t a bad film either. Everything the first movie did right, “Thor: The Dark World” continues and improves upon. “The Dark World” starts off much faster and maintains the intensity while offering genuine comedy, strong acting performances, and even a few twists.
“The Dark World” picks up a few years after the events of the original film. After a quick retrospective explaining the Dark Elves’ origin, and introducing the movie’s main antagonists, the action pans to Asgard. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is incarcerated in the dungeons of Asgard, and the Nine Realms appear at peace (though we as viewers know otherwise). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) however is visibly distracted and while his body may be at home his mind wanders to earth. Coincidentally, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Protman) can’t stop thinking of Thor, even when she’s on a blind date (where she’s found when the film opens). Now in London, Dr. Foster is once again accompanied by her former intern Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and renowned Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard).
The Dark Elves seek a substance called the Aether which they wish to unleash upon the Nine Realms. Not surprisingly, they eventually gain access to it and Thor returns to earth where he teams up with Foster, Selvig and Lewis. In a bizarre turn of events Asgard is attacked by the Elves leading Thor to enlist Loki’s help escaping to the Dark World, the Elves’ dwelling place, with the intent to destroy the Aether. The sequence on the Dark World is mind-blowing, and features a multi-layered flood of twists. It’s arguably one of the greatest scenes in a Marvel film to date.
Without the necessary, albeit too lengthy setup from the first “Thor,” the sequel really shines. From the onset the pace is quick and comedic elements feel genuine. Acting propels “The Dark World” ahead of its predecessor with strong presentations from the returning cast, particularly Loki. It feels as though he receives increased screen-time, as he steals the show. He’s witty, cunning, and brilliantly cast. Marvel, if you’re reading this review, consider giving Loki a spin-off film or TV show. Anthony Hopkins also delivers an always-inspired portrayal of Odin.
Although “Thor: The Dark World” resoundingly hammers the nail on the head, it’s just as mortal as the demigod protagonist. There’s some predictability which is to be expected. Not every superhero movie can achieve “The Dark Knight” status. Additionally Hemidall (Idris Elba), regally clad in Asgardian garb and juxtaposing the shabby “Luther” coat gets a criminally miniscule amount of screen-time. Despite more lines than the previous “Thor,” Elba is disappointingly absent. While Marvel did reference both “Thor” and “The Avengers,” they toned down the throwbacks to the point where “The Dark World” stands on its own. Don’t expect an “Iron Man 3” slew of reminders. “Thor: The Dark World” is a superb continuation of both the Thor franchise and Marvel universe, which tops even the original film. Go catch a screening, and remember to stay for the credits. No Marvel movie would be complete without the obligatory post-credits sneak-peek.
Note: If you’re a “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fan, watch “The Dark World” before the November 19th movie/TV show tie-in. And for more of Tom Hiddleston, the ever-so talented Loki, consider watching BBC’s “Wallander” where Hiddleston appears beside former “Thor” director Kenneth Branagh.