If you ever thought that all Marvel films were the same with a generic villain, adventure of the week plots, silly jokes, but still, mildly, entertaining, you are probably thinking of Thor: The Dark World. Everything negative that has been said about Marvel is perfectly emblematic in Thor: The Dark World. It’s so glaring that after this film, Marvel kicked up their stories and settled into a more unique language of cinematic story telling. This film is so forgettable, people even think Ragnarok was the sequel to Thor. There are a lot of good things in this film, and Thor does have it’s own identity as a series. It just needs to be seen as Marvel-light.
The most glaring problem with Thor films in general is, strangely enough, Thor. Thor is a great character when he is a fish out of water, or played for comedy, which makes him a fantastic addition to the Avengers, but it is hard for him to carry a film, seeing how linear of a character he is. His only true development comes from his ever inching crawl to become king of Asgard. The other glaring problem is the stock villain. He comes from an ancient race bent on world domination and is motivated by revenge. It is absolutely shocking how crappy this villain is. At least with the villain from Doctor Strange we have scenes where they establish Kaecilus’ intentions and his turn instead of introducing a bad guy just so the hero can punch him at the end. I hate villains that exist only to create opposition to the main character. Malekith is so crummy, he may have been created by Golan and Globus.
The plot is as follows: Jane Foster accidentally stumbles upon an ancient power source that, coincidentally, was once used by former enemies of Asgard that integrates itself into her body, and Thor brings her to Asgard to remove it from her. It is so stupid, it is actually kind of funny. The excuse to get Jane into the plot is as absurd as all major plot points in Man of Steel involving Lois Lane. The book world is full of silly plots, so it is only off putting as a major studio effort. The stupidity of the plot is to the benefit of the audience. Thor works best as a fish out of water, which may be why I enjoy the first film so much. This is the line between risk and safety. There are plot elements that are quite interesting, for example, the faux betrayal, the death of mommy, and even the creative third act where instead of a bunch of explosions, we get to jump from portal to portal, so there is some semblance of a uniqueness.
Guess what? I really kind of like this movie. I have to honestly address all complaints/flaws that the movie suffers from, but I think it is pretty consistently entertaining. I am thoroughly baffled by the absurdity and coincidences involving the plot, but there are things in it that I really like. Loki, for instance, is still a scene stealer. He may actually be the second best thing under the Marvel banner (Iron Man being the first). All of his scenes are very clever, and the third act twist is both in character, and shocking (the Odin reveal). Loki, who may be the second best thing in the MCU is only the third best part of this movie. Stellan Skarsgard returns as Dr. Selvig and has become full blown comic relief. Sure the trauma from The Avengers might have lasting effect on someone, but he is now a total goofball. My favorite part of the whole movie is Darcy, played by Kat Dennings. She was the comic relief in the first film, but now she has been cranked up to 11. Every scene with her is wonderful. The final thing worth noting is the score. It is my second favorite score in the series and almost feels out of place, seeing how the movie is a sloppy tonal mess.
Thor: The Dark World is an extremely watchable film. The truth is that watchable is not a compliment. It doesn’t add much to larger Marvel Universe, apart from introducing an infinity stone and really pales in comparison to the films it is sandwiched between. It is a stock adventure of the week with a generic villain, and a plot that is just as paper thin. I do admit that I like this film, but when there are so many better movies, not just on the Marvel side, but in all media, it really only works for fans of the MCU films that want to marathon up to the next big release, or people that haven’t seen it yet. It is the second worst film in the Marvel library, which doesn’t amount to much, but Thor is still quite the hunk.