Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective: Thor: The Dark World

Okay, I’ll make this one brief because no one gives a shit about Thor: The Dark World. Thanks to the brilliance of Thor: Ragnarok, a movie that has redefined the man himself as much a God of comedy as he was of thunder, The Dark World has been quietly slipped under the rug and with good reason – on a re-watch, The Dark World is a complete mess with, admittedly and very occasionally, some decent bits.

The story itself is pretty dull: a dark elf called Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) wants to know if he can get the galaxy in black with a little help from the red infinity stone that does…uh, something or other. That’s the obstacle that kicks us into action, and I say obstacle because Malekith is barely a presence in this movie. Which brings us to…

The Wasted Villain Corner

Marvel has a villain problem, that’s nothing new, but Malekith might be the worst of all. His motivations are basically in place to make the title make sense, he doesn’t have any real relationship with Thor (it’s always better when the might God fights his family), and he doesn’t give Christopher Eccleston, who is one of the best actors in any of the nine realms, anything to work with. There is only one person to blame for this: Loki. After The Avengers, Loki was something of a rock star, a definitive cinematic villain of this decade, and he steals this movie out from under Chris’ heavily made-up nose. Which would be fine if it wasn’t so rote. As good as Tom Hiddleston is as Loki, the script doesn’t give him anything interesting to do other than be a clichéd anti-hero. It’s clear that his expanded screentime was studio-mandated due to his popularity. He’s introduced even before Thor is, for Odin’s sake. It’s disappointing – but Malekith and Loki aren’t the only characters getting a raw deal.

Ticking the Romance Box

Okay, makers of The Dark World, you wasted Natalie fucking Portman. You wasted her so much that she broke up with the entire franchise, and I don’t blame her. Jane is less a love interest in The Dark World as she is the macguffin. There are some cute scenes in which Jane meets the parents, but she is mostly in danger or passed the fuck out.

But worst of all may be Chris Hemsworth, unbelievably. Gone is the sly humour of the first movie, and the impossibly charming Thor of Ragnarok is nowhere to be found here. This isn’t so much Hemsworth’s fault, as he gets stuck with some woefully poor dialogue, and his chemistry with Natalie Portman went the way of Malekith’s screen time.

It’s not a total disaster, though, despite what the first two acts might convince you of. The final fight in London is a creative and humorous jaunt through the city’s iconography, with Thor taking the tube to the delight of a swooning commuter a particular highlight. The art direction is also on point – this is a gorgeous-looking movie, completely distinctive from Thor and Ragnarok, with lots of warm colours and beautiful production design. It’s all just a tad too serious for my taste.

Thor is inherently a ridiculous character, but The Dark World puts a coat of stiffness on everything, making it less fun and more of a chore. Phase two has had a rough start, but things are about to get brilliant when Cap reunites with an old friend next week.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, please check out the rest of our MCU retrospective, and consider supporting us on Patreon!

By Kevin Boyle

(header image courtesy of Biff Bam Pop)

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