Marvel Studios continued on their path of universe building in 2013 in four different ways. First, we got to see the potential end of the Iron Man character in ‘Iron Man 3’ back in May, although we all know that won’t happen with Robert Downey Jr. signed on for 2015’2 ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. Secondly, we saw the launch of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ on television, furthering smaller subplots on broadcast TV.
The last two parts of this equation have been in the past week. The third part was announced late last week, Marvel and Netflix will produce a four series deal of thirteen episodes each, all culminating in a crossover mini-series called ‘Defenders’ starting in 2015.
And finally, this past weekend saw the release of Marvel Studio’s latest film, ‘Thor: The Dark World’. Starring Chris Hemsworth as the titular hero and Tom Hiddleston as fan-favourite Loki, the film is Marvel’s first non-Iron Man sequel and a true test to see if they can grow a series that doesn’t involve the aforementioned Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Reading some half reviews before I finally got a chance to see the film on Sunday, I came across many complaints about the comedy aspect of the film and that it shouldn’t be a comedy, and to anyone that says that I say, what is the issue? I found the comedy aspects to be well utilized to work through some of the slower moments of the film.
And that is where we come to my one real grief with the film. At times it seemed to suffer from a lack of direction, and not from the director Alan Taylor, but from bringing to screen scenes that were meaningful. This came to light with some scenes in Asgard that seemed to lag under too much seriousness. This is where the comedic tones of the film were sorely noticeable in their absence.
The best part of ‘Thor: The Dark World’ is the complicated relationship between Thor and Loki, but that also raises another concern with what Marvel has done with the Loki character. They have done a wonderful job of making Loki a character you both love and hate all at the same time, just as Thor does in the films.
The problem there is with just how good a job they made of making Loki be an unrelenting villain in ‘The Avengers’. These two different characterizations of Loki just don’t mesh together and can be a tad jarring, especially with how well the character arc progressed from the first Thor to this sequel.
The action of the film is straight forward and exactly what you would expect. Thor is the champion of Asgard, and is leading their forces in the quelling of uprisings that began as a result of the destruction of the Bifrost at the end of the first film. This allows for the explanation as to why he has never returned to Earth to rekindle his relationship with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster.
There is continued strife between Thor and his father Odin, despite their apparent differences having been set aside at the end of the first film and a furthering of the respect between the two at the start of ‘The Dark World’. However, this is eventually torn asunder by the plot of the film and will be another thread left unresolved for a third film.
And that is a bit of another issue that I have with this film. It really is setup as a bridge to get from the first film where Loki is the villain to the third film which will have the culmination of his schemes for the throne of Asgard. While a great overall concept, it at times makes the individual films seem weak in comparison.
On the whole, the comedy and action elements of ‘Thor: The Dark World’ do enough to overcome the other failings of the film, and do an excellent job of differentiating this franchise from its companions from Marvel Studios.
A must see in the theatre, a worthwhile see in 3D if you want to take advantage of the five-minute look at ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ coming in April 2014, and of course, as is the norm for Marvel Studios films, stay through the credits for both a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene.
For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.