Thor: The Dark World

by Alex Stroup, staff writer

At this point in the development of Marvel's movie empire, it doesn't really matter a whole lot whether Thor: The Dark World is actually a good movie. If the multi-pronged Avengers movies haven't captured you, there probably isn't any reason to see the newest entry. If it has, you're going to end up seeing this one regardless just to make sure you understand the references in other movies that come out. For example, I'll have to see the next Captain America movie even though I didn't much care for the first one.

Fortunately, if nothing else, Thor: The Dark World is fun. It doesn't make much sense--some elves who predate the universe are going to destroy it during a once-every-5000 years mystical realm alignment using some wispy goo--but the tone remains light and fluffy. It doesn't fit in with the general Earth-bound plots of these movies so far, perhaps 20 minutes of the movie takes place on Earth with the rest in computer-generated planetscapes. After two Thor movies, I honestly have no idea what the general rules are on the mortality of Asgardians. Stab one through the abdomen and immediate death. Drop a building on another and all you get is an angry scowl and a sexy bit of blood at the eyebrow.

When considered carefully, it is hard to imagine how it is reasonable for Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk to all exist in the same universe, since none of them seem to live within the same physical rules.

But. It's fun. There is no real depth of heart in Thor: The Dark World as whatever emotional themes are touched upon are thrown to the ground and beaten to death with a blunt stick. Counteracting that is the humor and action finding a balance of ernest irony (though such a thing shouldn't be possible), that keeps you chuckling along a scattershot journey building up to a return to Earth for one climatic battle. And that battle pays of with visual spectacle that, again, makes no sense but is enjoyably ridiculous.

Also, it allows me to use this sentence: This movie has a confused hammer. I just did a search on Google and Google books, and it appears that sentence has never before been written down. That right there is cinematic innovation of the highest order.

If the recent trend towards dark comic book movies has turned you off from old-fashioned fluff, you may have problems with this one, as there's hardly a serious tone in it (though it reaches for one in the middle). So go in for good lines from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) get some good lines, too, while Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) bring their intesnity to the serious dialog. The ony one who never really gets a moment to shine is Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. This time around, her character is as bland and uninteresting as her name and only seems to exist so Thor has a reason to return to Earth. Maybe in Thor 3, she'll get to do something again.

As should be clear from this review, I have no articulable reason for why I enjoyed the movie as much as I did, and I suspect if I put any effort into thinking about the movie a week after seeing it, I could easily talk myself out of that. Sometimes, though, one gets by just on charisma and bravado.

Note: As always with these Marvel movies, unless you're already bored, you'll want to stay through the all credits. Yes, to the very end; the extra scene in the middle of the credits (personally I have no idea what was implied by that one but others in the crowd, who presumably know the comics, were quite excited) is not the end of it.

  • Thor: The Dark World is a Marvel Studios release.
  • Wide theatrical release on Friday, November 8, 2013
  • Directed by Alan Taylor
  • Written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
  • Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins
  • Running time: 112 minutes
  • Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content
  • Alex's rating: 7 out of 10


  1. By danyoung

    Dang it! I knew there was some credit trickery when I got up to leave and 100% of the theater audience didn't. So I stayed for the clip in the middle of the credits. Maybe you could post (with the appropriate spoiler tag) what happened in the final clip?

  2. By Alex S.

    The final stinger was:


    Natalie Portman is still dejectedly eating her cereal all alone when Thor returns for some smoochie then cut to that abandoned warehouse and you see that large creature that came through portal gallumphing around trying to catch a flock of pigeons.

  3. By DebT

    Very glad you gave the heads up regarding staying to the very end of the credits. Most of the audience left after the first scene. Also thought your review was spot on.

  4. By Nikara

    I have to agree with most of this review. Thor generally hasn't been my favorite of the Marvel set, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Since Iron Man, I've become a major fan of the Marvel Fandom. I'm grateful that Disney and Marvel have come together, because it allows me to enjoy both geek pleasures at once! Some lovely surprise cameos in this move, and some excellent women characters (other than Jane, sadly). Like the first Thor, this move won't challenge you intellectually or make you question moral issues, but you'll probably enjoy it. Everyone sitting around me certainly did. I had a good time with low expectations. And can't wait until the next Captain America! (By the way, I didn't see it in 3-D and didn't feel that I was missing anything).

  5. By cstephens

    While I enjoyed the film, I didn't like it as much as I did the first Thor film. And it was distracting because there were quite a few things in this film which seemed to echo the Star Wars universe, and one particular gratuitous shot that Kenneth Branagh would have NEVER included in his film. But the more I've thought about the film in the last week, the more I've liked it and has cemented my desire to see the film again. There are a lot of lines and scenes that are coming back to me, and I'm remembering them fondly. It's a very different film from the first one. This one is much more of a popcorn film. While there are a few terrific, thoughtful, meaningful scenes, it's mostly just action, laughs and fun.

    I didn't completely understand the implications of the first bonus scene either, but having read some material on it, I at least understand the context.

    The collector to whom the aether is delivered is from the Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a forthcoming film.

    I thought the bonus scene at the end was ok, but I mostly liked the very end of it. That made us laugh.

    I have to admit that given how many Marvel films there have been, and that ALL of them have bonus scenes at the very end, it still baffles me that people get up and leave as soon as the first credit rolls.

    I agree that Jane had a lot less to do in this film, but I loved the scenes that Thor's mother got.

    I loved that she was totally kicking the bad guy's butt until the transformed monster dude came in. But then, we should expect nothing less from Odin's wife. And, her delivery was spot on when Loki was ranting that Odin wasn't his father, and she asked if she was then not his mother. Loki's response was devastating.

    While I avoided all of the press prior to seeing the film, I've gone back and read a few things, and I was amused to discover some of the things that were ad-libbed.

    It seems that the bit where Thor hangs up the hammer on the coat hook was something that Chris Hemsworth made up while he was messing around between takes. I guess they decided to keep that bit. We were laughing hysterically at that.

    There was one major thing about the film that really didn't work for me.

    As good a job as I thought both Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth did with Loki's "death" scene, it didn't work for me at all and had almost no effect on me because I knew it wasn't possible that they were going to kill off Loki. Killing off Odin's wife is one thing, since she's mostly a minor character. Killing off a major character that is the most popular outside of the title character (and some would argue, even more popular than the title character) is impossible.

    One question we had concerning the end of the film.

    Since it's revealed that in Thor's conversation with Odin, it's not actually Odin but rather, Loki in disguise, where is Odin?

  6. By DebT

    Quote Originally Posted by cstephens View Post

    One question we had concerning the end of the film.

    Since it's revealed that in Thor's conversation with Odin, it's not actually Odin but rather, Loki in disguise, where is Odin?

    We asked the same question at the end. Guess that may be addressed in Thor III.

  7. By Alex S.

    Quote Originally Posted by DebT View Post
    We asked the same question at the end. Guess that may be addressed in Thor III.
    The people behind the movie have pretty bluntly answered the question, though as with all things I'm sure it is subject to change. So spoiler from sources outside of the movie:

    Both the director, Alan Taylor, and Anthony Hopkins have said that Odin is dead, killed by Loki. Anthony Hopkins has said that two of these movies is enough for him. So if he sticks to that there wouldn't even be any Loki as Odin stuff in the next movie. But if Marvel/Disney can convince Hopkins to do another and the next director/screenwriter wants him that is an easily reversed situation.

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