(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write of a villain made relatably human, so I focused on how Loki feels as his father’s second favorite.)
Here am I, Loki, a god of Asgard,
Who ought to be king just for trying so hard.
The unchosen heir, second fiddle since birth,
Locked up just for seeking to conquer the earth!
I’m here behind energy fields, and where’s Thor?
Out hogging the glory like so oft before.
Who cares about me, the black sheep of the court,
The outcast brought in to be cast out for sport?
I’m Odin’s chagrin and his family’s regret,
But he and his favorite have seen nothing yet.
One day, they’ll come crawling to me in this jail,
Not knowing how deeply I’ll savor betrayal.
MPAA rating: PG-13
My family and I have been rewatching all the Marvel movies recently in preparation for Infinity War and to remind us of everything that came before. In doing so, I realized that Thor: The Dark World is the only one I haven’t reviewed, and I couldn’t let that slide. Such an oversight sort of proves that The Dark World is one of the weaker Marvel entries, and, although Thor is one of my least favorite Avengers, it’s still actually quite a solid film in the series.
Picking up after Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returned the Tesseract and an imprisoned Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to Asgard in The Avengers, The Dark World introduces the universe-hating Dark Elves and their secret weapon called the Aether, later revealed to be one of the Infinity Stones. (Can you tell I’m a Marvel nerd yet?) Awakened from exile after Thor’s girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) discovers and absorbs the Aether, the Dark Elves seek vengeance on Asgard and, you know, try to destroy the universe.
The Dark World’s biggest problem is its villain, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who remains the most forgettable of all of Marvel’s many disposable villains. Not even a Lost alert for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as a Kursed henchman could make the bad guys anything but dull threats. There’s literally nothing to them except getting the Aether to destroy everything, and the exposition-heavy prologue about the Dark Elves’ history weighs things down in unmemorable mythology.
I suppose mythology could be considered both a strength and a weakness for the first two Thor movies, steeped in Norse lore and Shakespearean pageantry as they are. With the Middle-Earth-style costumes and old English dialogue, they’re rather unique and somewhat sophisticated next to the lighter Marvel movies, yet they can easily become an overly serious bore for those who aren’t interested in those things. That’s likely why Thor: Ragnarok went full-on sci-fi comedy as a contrast, which was both good and bad.
Yet The Dark World’s strengths shouldn’t be forgotten either. Hemsworth and Portman are so admirable and sincere in their roles that they manage to sell their average romance, while Thor boasts outstanding chemistry with his double-crossing adopted brother Loki. Their rivalry is the biggest character highlight of the Thor series, which is probably why Loki has stayed around in all three movies.
The special effects are also as eye-popping and destructive as the rest of Marvel’s repertoire, especially the Dark Elves’ invasion of Asgard, while the scope and adventure of visiting different worlds make it a far grander ride than the first Thor. (Did anyone else notice that the giant rock guy Thor shatters near the beginning looks a lot like Korg from Ragnarok? They may be from the same race.) Plus, I think the orchestral score by Brian Tyler might be one of the best of any Marvel movie, except The Avengers, and a decent balance of gravity and humor keeps things entertaining without going off-the-wall like Ragnarok.
I enjoyed The Dark World more than I remembered, proving that even the lesser Marvel movies have plenty to offer. In fact, despite being more of a Runner-Up, I think I’ll go ahead and make it List-Worthy. Ragnarok found its way onto my Top 365 List last year when the other two Thors didn’t because I thought it was so much better, but I’m going to follow my own rules and put all three together. Even if The Dark World suffers from a bland villain, it’s still a good superhero movie, and I don’t think we comic nerds should be too hard on it.
Best line: (Thor, summing up his relationship with Loki) “I wish I could trust you.”
Rank: List-Worthy (joining Thor: Ragnarok)
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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