December 8 2013

Thor: The Dark World Review – What Was Marvel Thinking?

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While on vacation in Manchester, I snuck off on my last day to see Thor: The Dark World. To cut to the chase, I could have definitely waited.

I will say this up front, I was entertained, but I have to wonder what the end game was with this second film in the series. True, it is the next installment in a greater Marvel scheme at this point, but for the actual Thor series, Thor: The Dark World felt more like a prologue to the already confirmed Thor 3.

If this had been an issue of a comic, I would have had no problems with it as there have always been filler issues that are more about setting up future stories than actually telling a completely self-contained tale. But when you’re talking about films, sure there can be some small references to what has come before, and stories we’ve yet to see, but they should also make sure they do a good job of telling a complete story for the audience and not rely so much on knowing the entire saga.

Through out the film there were things I caught that made me wonder about the other folks sitting in the audience and if they knew what was going on. There were multiple references to S.H.I.E.L.D., and while they have played a major part in the Marvel universe and have their own TV series now, can you count on all of the audience knowing that? In comic books you have the luxury of footnotes, but in the movies you aren’t going to see little boxes showing up in the corner saying, “See The Avengers” to get a reference.

And it wasn’t even just that, as a long time fan of Marvel, I never got the sense that there was enough explanation to what the Aether, the MacGuffin of the film, actually was or did. ┬áDid it have an ability besides bringing the Nine Realms back to Darkness? Why did it defend itself when it was inside Jane (Natalie Portman)? The mid-credits scene referred to it as an Infinity Stone, and that the Tesseract is another. When Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) leave it with the Collector (Benicio del Toro) he says “One down, five to go.” What does this mean? I know what it means, but for those that don’t, it was a pretty weak set up. Just enough to annoy you in the moment, but not enough to make you really give it a second thought and make you want to learn more.

To the point, Thor: The Dark World, while entertaining, is just not that great of a movie when it stands on its own two feet. The motivations of the bad guys, the Dark Elves, is about as simplistic as they come and really only seem to exist to move us from scene-to-scene to get to more setup for future events. I enjoyed it, but only in the sense of being part of the overall Marvel Universe, and not as a film unto itself. And this, if Marvel continues down this road, could become a definite problem in the future.

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