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Published on February 24th, 2018 | by Lauren Bycroft

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The Road To Infinity War: Thor: The Dark World

I have long been a bit of a Thor apologist.  Critics especially, many I admire, often put the Thor films near the bottom of their MCU rankings.  Not me.  And while I would still hold Thor in higher regard than most, I’m sad to say that I can no longer defend Thor: The Dark World.  It’s not that the film is a disaster.  I think you’d be hard pressed to ever find a disaster of a Marvel film.  But it’s definitely missing something.  It’s dour, weighed down, dark, and altogether missing any kind of spark or verve – the charm and mischief that make Thor and Loki such wonderful characters to watch.

To start someplace perhaps unconventional, I think the costuming in The Dark World is symbolic of some of the greater issues with the film.  Many of the costumes, on Asgard in particular, feel bulky and obtrusive.  Anthony Hopkins’ performance feels like he’s trying to get through the lines as quickly as possible so he can finally take his armor off.  Thor is not only wearing his normal costume, he’s often draped in fabric over top.  It just feels unnecessary.  Everyone in the film feels weighed down.  

Director Alan Taylor made the jump from prestigious TV shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Game of Thrones, to film to direct Thor: The Dark World and it’s as if he’s trying to view Thor through the lens of those more measured and serious dramas.  The film feels most akin to Game of Thrones and while I can see how that would appear to be a smart comparison, Thor is often better when viewed with some humor and levity.  Kenneth Branagh brought this in through the fish out of water aspect of Thor and of course, Taika Waititi took it to a sublime level in Thor: Ragnarok.  Loki, coming off the The Avengers, solidifying his place as the best MCU villain (though that throne may have been usurped by Black Panther’s Killmonger), is woefully muted in this film.

Like Iron Man 2, some of the most interesting aspects of Thor: The Dark World are flirted with and left behind.  Frigga’s relationship with Loki and the effect her death has on him provides two of the most compelling scenes in the film.  I would much rather see that further explored than Malekith trying to rule the universe or get revenge or whatever the hell he’s doing. It’s so generic my brain literally refused to hold the information.  If Taylor wanted to truly go dramatic and Game of Thrones it might have been more interesting to go small and have a Shakespearean level power play for the throne.  To see Christopher Eccleston and Anthony Hopkins go toe to toe would have been intense and endlessly watchable.  Instead there’s a lot of talk of Thor’s relationship with Jane and how fleeting the human lifespan is, and everyone just seems SO bored.

The thought process behind taking Thor in this direction is ultimately understandable.  The first film was not as uproariously received as Iron Man and so, it makes sense to try to take things in a different direction.  In the end, it just wasn’t the right fit for the material.  It would have been more fun to see Thor’s adventures with SIf and the Warriors Three, trying to bring peace back to the nine realms or even the gang against Malekith if only to have some camaraderie and banter.  It seems no one was very happy with the experience in the end.  Natalie Portman is extremely unlikely to return to the MCU and Taylor himself described the experience as “particularly wrenching.”  It’s a sentiment this Thor fan can understand after revisiting Thor: The Dark World.


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