Thor: The Dark World, colloquially known as Thor 2, is another Marvel Comics movie in the prolific family of The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Iron Man, but audiences aren’t tired yet, judging by Thor 2’s first box office returns. Thor 2 (rated PG-13 mainly for violence that is a bit more intense than in Avengers) won’t be in any college film classes, but it sure is fun. Come for Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki, and stay for the final battle scene.
Along the way the audience will have to deal with a messy plot strung across nine worlds–with some mental leaps, the story hangs together, barely. Here the complexity of a Lord of the Rings storyline meets Star Wars, Norse mythology meets science fiction. The screenwriters also worked on The Chronicles of Narnia movies. Stir all of that together with Marvel, and ta-dah: Thor.
The story begins with thousands of years of prehistory involving a battle among Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) people, the Asgardians, and the Dark Elves who are seeking the Aether, a floaty substance that would give the leader of the Dark Elves universe-destroying power. The Asgardians win, and bury the Aether. Centuries later when the nine worlds align and portals between worlds open, the Aether somehow escapes into the body of Thor’s human love interest, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Heimdell (Idris Elba), the fantastic guardian of Asgard with an all-seeing eye, notices that Foster is in trouble and Thor rushes to Earth.
All of this sounds quite serious, but one of the Marvel franchise’s strong points is that the superheroes aren’t allowed to take themselves too seriously. In one scene Thor arrives in a London apartment, pauses at the entryway, and hangs his hammer on a coat hook.
Then there’s the movie’s strongest asset: Loki, Thor’s evil adopted brother. Loki completely overshadows the scary Dark Elves who appear to exist only for the final battle scene. In a predictable superhero movie, Loki is the one unpredictable character. “I wish I could trust you,” Thor says at one point. “Trust my rage,” says Loki.