MCU Retrospective: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaime Alexander, Zachary Levi, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård

The Overview
When Dr. Jane Foster gets cursed with a powerful entity known as the Aether, Thor is heralded of the cosmic event known as the Convergence and the genocidal Dark Elves.

The Review
In Thor’s “trilogy”, The Dark World comes awkwardly sandwiched being the Shakespearean grandeur of Kenneth Branagh’s film and Taika Waititi’s psychedelic synth vision, and with all of this hindsight, it is easily the worst film of the three and that isn’t even a contest! It suffers mostly from just being painfully dull, and despite it being the introduction of another Infinity Stone (here known as the Aether), it feels incredibly inconsequential in the grander scheme of things.

Upon it’s release, I remember enjoying this film a fair bit, but then again I am also an unashamed Loki fan-girl so I think I was just excited for more of that to be honest! Like Iron Man 3, the events of The Dark World follow almost immediately after The Avengers as we see Thor return his wayward brother to Asgard. However, Loki is not the villain at the forefront here, but based on this film’s incredibly poor nemesis, maybe he should’ve been.

The exposition is dumped in the opening of the film and then we are expected to care about the Dark Elves; spoiler, we don’t. We are introduced to Malekith (admirably played by Christopher Eccleston), but we fail to care for his motives. Honestly, his role in the story could’ve been played by any [insert name of a mythical, fantastical race here] and it wouldn’t have changed a damn thing. At the centre of the story is the Aether, later revealed to be an Infinity Stone. This. Is. Important! And yet the film feels so without consequence that it is embarassing.

Again, it can be a good thing when a film can stand apart from the wider universe, but a total disconnect with any of the far-reaching consequences and the “bigger picture” means that it is really hard to get behind. What struck me on this rewatch was just how boring this film is! The final set piece with the realms overlapping each other is fun to watch and there’s some good back and forth between Thor and Loki, but really this film has very little that I found engaging. It is just shy of two hours long but it felt like it was double that, and frankly I couldn’t wait for it to be over!

Unfortunately the negatives do outweigh the positives with this one, but it isn’t completely without merit. As mentioned previously, some of the action set pieces are great fun, and there’s also some beautiful cinematography, with red being a particularly key part of the colour scheme, and some great visuals which accompany this. The score by Brian Taylor is one of the better ones in the MCU, and the tracks which utilise some beautiful choral work are particularly great. There is one track called “Into Eternity” which accompanies the scene of Thor’s mother’s funeral, and it is really stunning; as are the visuals in this scene. 

The Dark World is definitely one of the lower tier MCU films and only finds a footing above some of the others for it’s visuals, and the always excellent work of the cast. Hemsworth in particular feels settled into this character now and he is always a joy to watch on screen. 

The Rating
★½

MCU Ranked
As I am planning to rewatch all of the MCU films, I will rank the films as I go and update on each review. 

  1. The Avengers (2012) – ★★★★½
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 
  3. Iron Man (2008) – 
  4. Thor (2011) – 
  5. Iron Man 3 (2013) –  
  6. Thor: The Dark World (2013) – ★½
  7. Iron Man 2 (2010) – ★½ 
  8. The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 
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