Director: Alan Taylor
With Loki (Hiddleston) in prison, Thor (Hemsworth) has been tasked with suppressing rebellions across the nine realms by his father (Hopkins). On earth, Jane (Portman) has been trying to find a link to Thor’s world for the last two years and eventually finds an open portal to another world while in England. But the portal does not take her to Asgard, instead traveling to The Dark World, a place where Aether, a mystical powerful force, has been hidden. The force inhabits Jane, before returning her to Earth. Aether has been hidden for ten thousand years, but with its return, the evil Dark Elf Malakith (Ecclestone) is awoken, intent on possessing the force. Cue intervention from Thor, the release of Loki to assist and a war between forces that skips from world to world, with set-pieces galore and explosions a-plenty.
Without the lightness of Kenneth Branagh’s directorial touch, the weird and gaudy world of Asgard feels clunky and ridiculous. While the first film focused on the almost Shakespearean rivalry between two brothers for the throne, the second film throws Loki back into the plot when it seems utterly ridiculous, considering his actions in both the first film and Avengers Assemble. Why on earth would Thor consider setting him free? Obviously the producers realised (rightly) that Hiddleston is one of the best facets of the current Marvel universe, so they decided to use him as much as they could and thus it comes as no surprise to learn that they filmed additional scenes with Hiddleston after shooting had wrapped to increase his involvement in the film. Loki’s presence in the movie is far larger than perhaps it should have been, because no longer is there any feasible rivalry between Thor and Loki as, clearly, Loki is now a mass-murdering supervillain and without a stupid mistake like, I don’t know, SETTING HIM FREE, could he ever have a chance at challenging the throne again. But of course the writers would apparently seem to think it realistic that Thor would do exactly that. Obviously.
The first film is peppered with humour, with Thor experiencing and adapting to our world for the first time. This time, Jane travels to Asgard and takes it all in as though she’s just visiting Disneyworld. Humour comes only in the form of the supporting characters, with Skarsgård and Dennings providing much welcome relief. But gone is Thor’s own inherent humour that made his presence in his two earlier appearances pleasurable to watch. Now he’s just serious, earnest and intense. Whatever pleasure I had in watching this stupidly handsome man goof about on screen has vanished, because the goofing is gone. Captain America might be one of the most handsome men alive today, but my God was that film dull. Its central character is flat and tedious and I’m afraid that Thor has become the same. Hiddleston is the standout of this film by a mile, while the set-pieces are very well executed (though somebody please explain to me the logic behind it all happening in and around London), but in actuality, Thor: The Dark World is one of the worst films Marvel Studios has produced so far.