Countdown to Age of Ultron: Thor: The Dark World Revisited

Holy smokes. We are in the home stretch here, and we have some great ones coming up. As it is written in Asgard, however, They who wish to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier, if they be completists, must first endure Thor: The Dark World.

 Cooler than you.  

Cooler than you.  

RG: I only saw this movie once and it was well after it had been released on Blu Ray. Thor: The Dark World is the only one of these Marvel movies that I didn't see in theatres. Why? I have no idea. Regrets? Not really.

DH: I loved it in the theatre, but it really loses something watching it in your living room. The second half picks up with the humour, but the first half is mostly pretty dull. I do like how much it’s basically a Masters Of The Universe movie though, with its crazy mix of science fiction and fantasy! Not to mention its himbo hero, of course.

 "S'up?"

"S'up?"

RG: Right off the bat, totally forgot that Malekith was in this movie, so already I am reminded how unmemorable this movie is. I think I basically only remember the Loki parts.

DH: Marvel gets a lot of flack for having underdeveloped villains in these movies (other than Loki), and Christopher Eccleston as Malekith doesn’t do a lot to reverse that trend. He doesn’t leave too much of an impression.

 This could be literally anyone.

This could be literally anyone.

DH: That big stone warrior that Thor takes out in Vanaheim at the beginning: is he supposed to be one of the aliens that Donald Blake runs into in Thor’s origin story? Because he sure looks like it.

 Nice detective work, Dave!

Nice detective work, Dave!

DH: There seems to be more of an effort here to make Asgard seem like a populated place. I got more a sense of there being a lot of people there, just living their weird space-god lives, as opposed to the first movie, where it just seemed like a few sets with the principal players hanging out on them.

RG: I'm really into the arc of this series of movies. I love the solo movies that led to the team-up adventure of The Avengers, and now we see the very distinct aftermath movies for each of the big three characters. We saw Tony Stark struggling with PTSD and with his new role as superhero, and now we see Thor and family dealing with Loki. Thor is also dealing with some out of control hair in this movie. He has adopted an undergrad Dave Matthews-fan hackey sack look that I do not approve of.

 "Son, are you doing marijuana? You can tell me."

"Son, are you doing marijuana? You can tell me."

I do not disagree with Odin's suggestion that Thor might be better off with Sif. I mean, we all would.

 "I know I've known you my whole life and fought at your side, Sif, but Jane gave me a ride in her van once and she's a scientist or something. You understand."

"I know I've known you my whole life and fought at your side, Sif, but Jane gave me a ride in her van once and she's a scientist or something. You understand."

DH: Do you get the sense that there was supposed to be more Sif in this movie? LIke a Sif/Jane/Thor love triangle? They sort of hint at it, but it goes nowhere.

RG: Yeah, well that seems to be all Sif does in this movie: pine for Thor.

Hey, Dave was right! Gratuitous shirtless scene! Extremely gratuitous, really. Very Fabio. 

 If Fabio didn't wash his hair.

If Fabio didn't wash his hair.

RG: And, look, it’s Chris O'Dowd! The one guy who could possibly charm Jane away from Thor!

 I love her.

I love her.

RG: I like that Darcy has a bigger role in this movie than she did in the first one. She's very funny. Unnecessary, but funny.

Is maybe the problem with the Thor movies the science mumbo jumbo? It's all very boring and meaningless. There is no science to Thor. We don't need an astrophysicist trying to figure out his deal. He arrives magically via rainbow bridge. What do you want?

DH: I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure the “science” in this movie is utter gibberish. “If we turn this dial, it’ll warp space right where those bad guys happen to be and they’ll disappear!” It’s kind of like the science in Interstellar in that respect, only that movie is super-serious and this one basically turns into a comedy by the end.

RG: It's pretty romantic when Thor returns to Jane, all standing in the rain. It is not cool how Jane immediately starts whining at him, as if he's not the God of Thunder/an Avenger/an alien/the future king of Asgard/the Sexiest Man Alive/out of her league.

 Wet, Hot, Asgardian Thor.

Wet, Hot, Asgardian Thor.

RG: I do love when Darcy asks him "How's space?" I do not like that Thor leaves her behind when he takes Jane to Asgard.

DH: What’s his response? “Space is fine”? Pretty funny. I like how laid back Thor is.

RG: I do too. It’s my favourite thing about this movie version of the character. He’s just up for whatever.

I couldn’t imagine a worse scenario than not enjoying this character, because it’s gonna consume a good 10 years of my life.
— Chris Hemsworth, The Guardian, 2013

RG: Jane Foster is very cute when she's in Asgard. I like when she says "You told your dad about me?" when Odin is all "I know very well who you are, Jane Foster" like she's dirt.

 Get in that sandwich, Jane!

Get in that sandwich, Jane!

DH: Odin really is a dick. By the way, is Captain America the only superhero ever made who doesn’t have daddy issues of any kind? It seems that way.

RG: Only because he didn’t have a dad? At least that’s the impression I get. He has best friend issues.

I zone out completely during all the dark elf scenes. No wonder I don't remember Malekith. I would have been fine with those elves just speaking English. Don't need the made-up Elf gobbledegook. It's also kinda racist when everyone speaks English except the bad guys, no matter where they are from.

DH: The Dark Elves with the weird white kabuki masks do look cool, though. And I like their little black hole grenades, and their crazy spaceships. I’m also a big fan of how Algrim/Kurse is a guy in a suit, when he could have just as easily been a CGI effect. I’m always gonna root for the practical effects when we see them.

This movie was originally supposed to be directed by Patty Jenkins (who just last week replaced Michelle McLaren on the in-development Wonder Woman movie!), who dropped out due to creative differences and was replaced by Alan Taylor, a veteran of TV shows like The Sopranos and Game Of Thrones. It doesn’t feel as cinematic as it should, somehow--it looks more like a slightly larger scale episode of the kind of prestige TV show Taylor is known for. I don’t think he had a very happy experience on this movie, so accordingly, I don’t think he brought a lot of energy to the table.

RG: Yeah, Taylor seems kind of unenthusiastic when he talks about this movie. 

I also zone out during all the Odin history lessons. And basically anytime Loki isn’t on screen. And I’m not even a Loki fangirl.

It’s interesting that I’ve had that wide impact in a role that is so unlike me.
— Tom Hiddleston, The New York Times, 2013

RG: There is way too long a stretch in the first half of this movie without Loki. When we see him in the prison cell the movie really picks up.

 Checking out some Loki/Thor fanfic.

Checking out some Loki/Thor fanfic.

DH: I remember hearing that they shot additional scenes with Loki late in the production because of Tom Hiddleston’s popularity, which must mean there really wasn’t a lot of Loki in the original version. Probably a good move to reshoot.

RG: There really just isn't a lot of chemistry between Jane and Thor. I wish there were. When you look at the other romantic pairings in these movies: Tony and Pepper, Steve and Peggy, Bruce and Betty, Steve and Bucky, Steve and me...there's just no comparison. And since Natalie Portman makes herself scarce between Thor films in this Marvel Cinematic Universe, there's just no reason to care about these two. Honestly, I would prefer a swinging bachelor Thor.

I don't really like Sif's jealousy of Jane, either. I mean, I get it, I just don't like it.

DH: Definitely not a movie that’s passing the Bechdel test anytime soon.

RG: I do like Heimdall joining the fight. It's nice to see him in some action scenes.

DH: Why is Balder the Brave not in these movies? I haven’t really read a ton of Thor comics, but isn’t he kind of a big deal in them?

RG: Gotta save something for Thor 3. 

There's a lot of cool looking stuff that happens during the battles. Some very Star Warsy stuff. I do like how these Thor movies serve as a bridge between the terrestrial and cosmic Marvel universes. It's a confusing bridge, but a bridge nonetheless.

I loved seeing Frigga kicking ass in this movie, but I did NOT love her getting killed right after. I mean, come on. The funeral scene is very pretty. Sif seems the most broken up about her death.

 Total MILF (Mom I'd Like to Fight)

Total MILF (Mom I'd Like to Fight)

DH: I like the relationship between Frigga and Loki that this movie touches on. Thor was Odin’s favourite, while Loki was more of a mama’s boy. Are we to infer that she taught him how to cast those illusions? I forgot about that.

RG: Thor does tell Loki that Loki has their mother’s tricks or whatever. So, yes? I guess Thor didn’t want to learn magic.

Thor seriously looks filthy in this movie. He probably smells terrible, with his unwashed hair and gross poncho. It's like any second now he's going to whip out a guitar and treat us to some "No Woman, No Cry."

 "I'm done with this fascist dictatorship, Dad! My buddy Blaze needs help with his juice stand."

"I'm done with this fascist dictatorship, Dad! My buddy Blaze needs help with his juice stand."

RG: Hey! Heimdall takes off his helmet in this movie! Thumbs up!

 Heimdall can get it.

Heimdall can get it.

RG: I adore the scene where Thor visits Loki in prison, especially when Loki drops the illusion. Great reveal. This scene is the turning point in the movie, in that it is where the movie is finally interesting. It occurs at just past the one hour mark.

I love Thor and Loki together. And I really love when Loki turns into snarky Captain America. Another thing I forgot about! Delightful!

If you watch the deleted scenes you can see Tom Hiddleston in a Captain America costume doing this scene before they swapped Evans in.

 Captain America cameos in every movie, please!

Captain America cameos in every movie, please!

I did an impression of Loki in the Captain America costume. I did the whole performance and then they showed Chris my performance on tape. It’s him doing an impression of me doing an impression of him. And it’s brilliant.
— Tom Hiddleston, MTV News, 2013

RG: Thor and Loki are pure magic in scenes together. When Thor is trying to get that spaceship to work their bickering is so funny.

 Fanfic fodder.

Fanfic fodder.

RG: I'm glad Thor switches to his sleeveless costume half way through the movie. Hemsworth's arms are ridiculous in this one. Even with the awful hair he is still so attractive I can barely look at him. I can't believe he is the same species as me. It must be how a right whale feels when they see, like, an orca.

I was at the airport a few weeks ago, and this kid with a little cape on and a hammer was running around smashing into things and his parents looked over at me and said to him, ‘Look, look, it’s Thor!’ And the kid looked up and said: ‘No it’s not.’ And just ran off and continued to be Thor around the airport. And I realised, I ain’t Thor without the costume and the hammer.
— Chris Hemsworth, The Guardian, 2013

RG: Man, Jane has nothing to do in this movie. She's reduced to an object. It sucks.

I love the reveal in the battle when Loki appears to have betrayed Thor but actually they were working together on a secret brother plan. Do not love whatever nonsense is going on with red dust and elves and black holes and whatnot.

DH: They showed that scene where Loki appears to cut Thor’s hand off at Comicon in Hall H the year before this movie came out, so right away I knew it wasn't what it seemed. No way would they reveal a scene like that so early if it was legit. Something similar happened with Winter Soldier, where they really leaned on Fury’s death in the advertising--so much so that I knew he couldn't possibly be dead.

RG: I DO love Loki holding his own against a bunch of bad guys with only a small dagger. Action!Loki!

Loki's "death" is truly heartbreaking. Both actors really give it. And Jane is just there, wondering why she had to visit her new boyfriend the same week that his whole family gets killed. Awkward!

 "Avenge...me...Because you're...an Avenger..."

"Avenge...me...Because you're...an Avenger..."

RG: When Jane's phone starts ringing on that elf planet and Thor says "it isn't me" that is really funny.

So, Dr Selvig is batshit crazy now and blames it on Loki being in his head during The Avengers movie. So can we expect a similar situation for Hawkeye? I just want a heads up if I have to see Renner dancing around naked in Age of Ultron.

I am only mentioning Selvig because I feel that I should, but really I think that character should have been axed from this movie. He really didn't need to be in this one, and it just ate up time that could probably be better spent. 

I love seeing Thor on Earth, but other than that this London shit is BORING. And the science is STUPID.

 Boring!

Boring!

 So boring!

So boring!

RG: This movie suffers from the same problem as the first Thor movie: too many action scenes in settings that are so dark you can barely see anything.

 Exciting action!

Exciting action!

DH: The biggest problem facing this movie is that it doesn’t have much consequence for Thor in the long run. Iron Man 3 has big personal consequences for Tony Stark, and Winter Soldier has big consequences for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie is just another Thor adventure. I mean, I guess his mother dies, but we didn’t really get to know her all that well. And his relationship with Jane is more solidified, but it doesn’t look like she shows up in Age Of Ultron or anything. Thor: The Dark World is not a King-Sized Annual or 350th Anniversary Special, it’s just another cranked-out monthly issue, so to speak.

RG: That is an excellent way of putting it.

The idea, in my mind, is that Thor is a character who continues to grow and he’s not just a static superhero and, in the first film, he went from being an impetuous prince to being somebody who is more responsible. And, in our film, he continued to grow up and went through the darker phase of growing up where you start to realize the world is more complicated than you thought and what you wanted might not be what you really want. In my mind, when we started calling it ‘The Dark World,’ it wasn’t just elves — it was adulthood [that] is the Dark World. And that’s what he’s growing into and part of that was losing people he loved.
— Alan Taylor, The Huffington Post, 2013

RG: Thor on the subway is funny, but that lady was lying when she says he can take that train three stops to Greenwich. He would have to switch to the Dockland Light Rail at some point. I know. I stayed in a hostel in Greenwich once. The commute into town was bullshit.

 Just think, subway lady, if you had hit Thor with your car YOU'D be the love of his life right now!

Just think, subway lady, if you had hit Thor with your car YOU'D be the love of his life right now!

DH: This movie is so unrealistic, with its Dark Elves and Infinity Stones and imaginary transit routes!

RG: Oh, I just checked. There’s an underground station in Greenwich now. Carry on, movie.

It's fun seeing a little bit of the celebrity status the Avengers now have since the New York attack. Everyone knows Thor now!

And, as usual, it's funny seeing Thor on Earth looking like Thor doing normal human things.

 Would that not just make the whole coat rack fall right off the wall?

Would that not just make the whole coat rack fall right off the wall?

I haven’t seen the movie and I’ve forgotten it. It’s hard to follow the story in the script. This is not really my world.
— Anthony Hopkins, The Telegraph, 2013
I knew Ken [Branagh] and he said ‘Would you like to play Odin?’ I said, ‘Yeah, okay.’ At my age if they offer me the phone book to read, I’ll read it, as long as they pay me.
— Anthony Hopkins, The Telegraph, 2013
I think before, my own fear of both success and failure would have stopped me...But I knew Ken [Branagh] knew what I could do, and I remember thinking: ‘I am never going to get closer. I might as well go for it.’ I put on 25 percent more muscle, got down to 7 percent body fat, knew my lines inside out. I was a man possessed.
— Tom Hiddleston, The New York Times, 2013
 Just make him an Avenger.

Just make him an Avenger.

RG: The surprise ending is very confusing. Is Odin dead then? Did Loki kill him? Are we going to need to see Anthony Hopkins sleepwalking his way through pretending to be Loki pretending to be Odin in Thor 3?

DH: I would wager that the filmmakers have no idea what happened there either. The real Odin was probably just in the bathroom that whole time or something.

RG: Yeah, maybe. This is how the movie should have gone: Frigga does not get killed and Loki takes her form instead. Wouldn't you love to see Renne Russo as Tom Hiddleston in the next movie? Also, layers and layers of creepy mama’s boy Psycho shit. The best!

The end of credits scene is weeeeeak. Not buying that romance. Jane should just date Chris O’Dowd. Thor can be her semi-annual piece on the side.

 I love that they brought in Hemsworth's wife for this kiss. Because kissing Natalie Portman would have been a real chore.

I love that they brought in Hemsworth's wife for this kiss. Because kissing Natalie Portman would have been a real chore.

And thus ends the Thor portion of these recaps. Up next we have the one that Dave and I agree is the very best Marvel movie so far, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I am super excited to watch it again and write and write and write about it and look at screen caps for days afterward.