Marvel Studios has really turned into a well-oiled machine in terms of producing successful blockbusters. Their movies are simple enough to be enjoyed by all audiences with varying levels of intelligence but they’re also quick-witted enough to keep the adult audience engaged. Thor: The Dark World is largely another one of Marvel’s brilliantly packaged but ultimately disposable movies. It is like a fast food meal that you enjoy while you’re consuming but does not exactly stimulate you or enrich your life in any way. There are moments in Thor: The Dark World that deal with the complexities that come with relationships, whether they be brotherly or romantic, but those moments are not explored beyond a basic, surface level.
Thor: The Dark World picks up after the events of Marvel’s The Avengers, in which the Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) saved the world from the destruction of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor continues with his heroic duties by bringing the Nine Realms together while Loki is imprisoned for his crimes on Earth. Meanwhile, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is still criminally underdeveloped as a legitimate character, continues her scientific work and discovers an area on Earth where the laws of physics are no longer present as things are able to disappear into thin air. We are also introduced to a basic plot about the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who long ago wished to destroy the world with an Aether, which has now latched itself onto Jane.
Naturally, chaos ensues, which ultimately leads to Loki escaping from his prison cell and Malekith becoming awakened from his.. slumber(?). Shockingly, Loki teams up with Thor, making them a seemingly unstoppable force in saving Jane and restoring order in the Nine Realms. Things get complicated as they are wont to do, but our heroes are in control through most of the movie. Perhaps this is why it seems like there are very little stakes even when the world is under attack yet again. Thor is essentially invincible and Loki is like the cat that has nine lives, so it’s difficult to truly get invested in their adventures when the end result is so obvious and predictable.
What gives the movie strength is its performances, especially Hiddleston’s. The actor infuses Loki with a peculiar charisma that makes him more engaging to watch than Hemsworth as Thor, though Hemsworth does give shades of humor to the character in a way that a lesser actor wouldn’t. Their chemistry together is undeniable; it is clear that these two are the classic good brother-bad brother pairing and it’s easy to become invested in their relationship. They are perhaps the only engaging pair in the movie, however. While Portman is a good actress, I still find her chemistry with Hemsworth to be half-hearted and dull at best.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about Thor: The Dark World since the movie does not give the audience enough to really discuss. It’s standard blockbuster fare complete with shiny heroes, ugly villains and the end of the world as we know it. Yet it still has the Marvel charm about it that gives some much needed humor to what is ultimately a ridiculous story. At its heart, Thor: The Dark World is mostly grown men fighting each other in silly costumes, but it is serviceable if ultimately forgettable entertainment to be easily digested by the masses. On to the next one.
MVP: Tom Hiddleston