"Thor" sequel ranks among top Marvel productions

Marvel+Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment

Although Marvel Studios has had much success with their multiple superhero franchises, some of the films have been better than others. “Thor” (2011) was an unoriginal and fairly uninteresting film covered with some decent special effects. “The Avengers” (2012), was a fine spectacle, but lacked any real character development or even plot. It was a fun movie to be sure, but hardly the greatest superhero film ever made, as some audiences made it out to be. It stands to reason that “Thor: The Dark World” would have similar issues to the previous films featuring Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). This is not the case, however, as Marvel actually managed to create one of their better films.

The plot itself is as simple as possible. Bad guy Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) tries to gain possession of a powerful weapon, known as the Aether, in order to ensure the survival of his people and plunge the nine realms into darkness. Thor must team up with his brother Loki, who was last seen trying to take over Earth in “The Avengers,” to destroy the Aether before Malekith can use it for evil. The story becomes a classic revenge tale that is entertaining because of the strained relationship between Thor and Loki.

 Much like “Thor,” the film is not very original, but unlike its predecessor, it keeps the tropes fresh, usually through humor. “Thor: The Dark World” is, if not the funniest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, certainly near the top. While “Thor’s” humor fell flat due to its “fish out of water” jokes that seemed outdated even a few decades ago, the sequel finds its humor through the interactions and relationships between its characters. Darcy (Kat Dennings) is just as quirky as she was in the first film, now joined by intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) who acts as the straight man in this comedic duo. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) returns, slightly insane after his brainwashing at the hands of Loki in “The Avengers.” Although Skarsgård had a few humorous moments in “Thor,” he becomes a scene-stealer in the sequel, responsible for some of the film’s funnier scenes.

 Last, but certainly not least, there are Thor and Loki. For some unexplainable reason, Tom Hiddleston became extremely popular after “The Avengers” due to his role as Thor’s brother. It seemed odd that a character who, while charming but extremely uninteresting as a villain, would gain the popularity that he did. Marvel, not one to miss such an opportunity, shot a few more scenes with Loki to satisfy fan requests. These moments actually fit the film well and never felt like pandering for the audience. It must be said that one of these scenes is perhaps the greatest scene in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and is worth the price of admission alone. Indeed, it is now easy to see why so many people are fans of Hiddleston. There may be a few skeptics, but Hiddleston proves his worth with a performance that is not only comedic, but very serious and sympathetic when needed and incredibly nuanced.

Although the film is not perfect, there are never any moments that stand out as bad. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) never seems to rise above the “strong, independent female scientist” role and is just there to drive the story farther.  The action, while fun, is slightly underwhelming by the end of the film’s final battle. Regardless, Marvel created a great action movie that will satisfy diehard fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and even those who were not fans of the first “Thor” film. The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues in April of 2014 with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford.