Returning to the world of Thor was going to be an interesting trip, he was always the Marvel character that could go all out sci-fi and a little bit bonkers and this is exactly what director Alan Taylor does.
Following the events of New York in The Avengers, Thor is back on Asgard and ensuring peace throughout the realms but thanks to a Lord of the Rings-esque prologue, we become aware that the time where the nine realms align is near – and an ancient weapon called the aether. Almost snatched from a Men In Black film, the nine realms are about to align and an almost unrecognisable Christopher Eccleston as Malekith has the desire to use the aether and turn each of the realms back to darkness. Keeping up? The story is clearly bonkers and that is exactly what the writers can do with the stories around Thor – that is by no means a criticism.
The real strength of the film is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and with this being his third film as the character, he’s really found his voice and provides an excellent partner for the serious Thor. Chris Hemsworth as Thor, much like Hiddleston, has had three films to settle into his role. That being said, inherently within the characters, Thor is far more the traditional ‘straight’ hero who can have slightly cliché dialogue as opposed to Loki, who has a delicious ambiguity about him.
This brings us to the supporting cast. Natalie Portman reprises her role from the first Thor as the eponymous hero’s love interest, Dr. Jane Foster, who has now moved to London and continuing her research but, through the aether infecting her, visits Asgard which sees an interesting role reversal – usually it’s Thor is in a foreign land. When on Earth, Dr. Foster’s working with the ever-wonderful Stellan Skarsgård as the eccentric Dr. Selvig and Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis who are mainly reduced to comic relief however do provide respite from an intense and slightly mad narrative.
While the film is, in its own way, utterly barmy, it is enjoyable and provides many of the tropes of the Marvel cannon – including the customary post-credit scenes and Stan Lee cameo. At it’s best Thor: The Dark World is massively enjoyable and knowing –this is often the time Loki is let loose on-screen – however the insanity of the narrative can be it’s downfall. With the hint of a certain character within the post-credit scene, Guardians of the Galaxy has a neat setup.