11 Days of Marvel: Thor: The Dark World


Day 8 of 11 Days of Marvel is here! In this project, Bill and Erin go through every sin­gle extant film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and write their reac­tions to them! The project start­ed here, with Iron Man, or you can click here to see all the arti­cles in the project so far. Today is about:

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Bill’s Response: Malekith, the Accursedly Uninteresting

The team behind Thor: The Dark World should be com­mend­ed for man­ag­ing to make a movie about ancient evil, fra­ter­nal betray­al, lost love and mys­te­ri­ous por­tals into a dull and dread­ful slog.

Nothing about this movie works. Hemsworth and Portman have lost what chem­istry they had in Thor. The green­screened land­scape of Svartalfheim is drab and brown. I imag­ine they were going for a des­o­late look, lit­tered as it is with the ruins of ancient Dark Elf space­ships, but it just looks like a place­hold­er for a more inter­est­ing land­scape. Jane Foster is only in this movie to serve as a ves­sel for the Aether, some mys­te­ri­ous­ly bor­ing Ancient Power that was Buried Forever that she Discovers Randomly because of the Convergence (which is some­times called the Alignment), which Blurs the Boundaries between Worlds and so on and so forth and I don’t care, I don’t care, please stop it, I don’t care. Jane makes pre­cise­ly two deci­sions in this movie: she decides to inves­ti­gate the weird read­ings Darcy found in London, and she helps tele­port some dark elves around in the final show­down. Otherwise, she exists pure­ly for Thor to brood over her. Oh, and she slaps peo­ple, uni­ver­sal ter­ri­ble writer short­hand for a woman being “spunky” which is inevitably fol­lowed by the vil­lain say­ing “I like her.”

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Loki is back, but this new team has no idea how to write him. His dia­logue is nei­ther as grandiose (“I am bur­dened with glo­ri­ous pur­pose”) nor as witty (“Are you ever not going to fall for that?”) as it could be in Thor or The Avengers. Instead, they write him like a bored, rebel­lious teenager. (“It’s not that I don’t love our lit­tle talks, it’s just that I don’t love them.”) He lit­er­al­ly says “ta-da” at one point. He’s not the brood­ing, con­flict­ed younger broth­er of Thor, nor the mono­ma­ni­a­cal Trickster of The Avengers. He adds noth­ing to this movie. He’s just here because Tumblr is in love with him.

But worse than Loki, worse than Foster, worse than the not-at-all funny comic sec­tions mak­ing fun of Erik Selvig’s life-shattering trau­ma, worse than all of these, is the film’s vil­lain, Malekith the Accursed. Christopher Eccleston, who was the 9th Doctor once upon a time, can be a very charis­mat­ic actor. Here, he is given about twelve lines and deliv­ers them all (half of which are in an utter­ly uncon­vinc­ing Elvish) in a vague, monot­o­ne mum­ble. His plan? To do some magic that destroys All of the Universe, because his peo­ple came from a time Before the Universe, and he wants to restore the Not-Universe.

Blowing up the uni­verse is the most bor­ing villain-plan in the world, you guys. It par­tic­u­lar­ly doesn’t work when your vil­lain is flat and unmen­ac­ing. I sus­pect they were try­ing to cre­ate a vil­lain who cared noth­ing at all for the petty squab­bles of Asgard and was hell­bent on its anni­hi­la­tion, who viewed the Asgardians as lit­tle more than ants beneath his feet. That might poten­tial­ly have worked. But we spend so lit­tle time with Malekith that what was prob­a­bly intend­ed to be quiet deter­mi­na­tion reads as apa­thy. Malekith is the Designated Villain of the Week, there to be a cat­a­lyst for other, more inter­est­ing things to hap­pen. And that might work if the other things that hap­pened were at all inter­est­ing. Loki serves a sim­i­lar pur­pose in The Avengers, though he’s about a thou­sand times more charis­mat­ic. But every­thing else in this movie is also flat and drab, which draws even more atten­tion to the fact that Malekith is a card­board cutout of Christopher Eccleston, pac­ing awk­ward­ly around the set while he waits for his check to clear.

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This is a bad movie, but it’s not even bad in an inter­est­ing or hammy way. It’s com­plete­ly rote, made just because they felt like there ought to be anoth­er Thor movie.

Although I guess the Dark Elf space­ships are pret­ty cool.

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Favorite Moment: The scene between Frigga and Malekith, one of the only vague­ly inter­est­ing action sce­nes in the movie and one of three brief moments of char­ac­ter­i­za­tion for Malekith1. She says she’ll never tell him where the Aether is, he looks at her for a moment, and says “I believe you,” before order­ing her imme­di­ate death. This could have been a men­ac­ing vil­lain: cold­ly prac­ti­cal, unin­ter­est­ed in the­atrics, and not going to waste time mono­logu­ing. But that would have required bet­ter writ­ing every­where else, a more con­vinc­ing per­for­mance, and some more time spent with this guy instead of watch­ing Loki mug for the cam­era.

Least Favorite Moment: Ah, but there are so many. Probably the line “Have you come to see the end of your uni­verse?” Which, just, good grief, guys.

Scene Which I Used to Like, But then The X-Men Did It Better: I had remem­bered enjoy­ing parts of the last fight in a “now you’re think­ing with por­tals” kind of way, and I guess it’s still fine. The fact that Mjolnir is con­stant­ly try­ing to find Thor as he and Malekith get kicked through to var­i­ous worlds by the Convergence is kind of neat. But in our post–Days of Future Past world, it takes some bet­ter Portal–style trick­ery to make me happy. Seriously, though, how cool was Blink in X-Men? She was so cool.

Bill’s Rankings:

1Captain America: The First Avenger

2The Avengers

3Iron Man

4. Iron Man 3

5Thor

6The Incredible Hulk

7Iron Man 2

8Thor: The Dark World

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Erin’s Response: 

To echo my esteemed col­league, I can­not believe that peo­ple pick on Iron Man 3 when this movie exists. Not only does it fail to live up to the smash­ing fun that was the first Thor, it fails to make any sense at all. The strange love-triangle/bromance between Thor, Loki, and Jane falls flat­ter than bread at alti­tude with­out the extra flour (this is very impor­tant – trust me).

Thor, we are lead to believe, has been watch­ing Jane on Earth for two years with­out going to see her. Let me say that again: two years. During this time, he has failed to come and visit her even once. Now, as we all know, the Bifrost grows at a rate of 20 feet every month, and since when Thor broke the bridge he also broke the round globe thing, we’ll add 3 months for con­struc­tion, which equals about a year and GO SEE YOUR GIRLFRIEND ALREADY. If this movie was about Jane, she would have found anoth­er guy in this time and Thor would have been the one that is “just not that into her.”

As you know if you read my last post on the sub­ject, I don’t real­ly buy the romance between Jane and Thor, par­tial­ly because it was never fleshed out, and par­tial­ly because they don’t seem to show much actu­al warmth or phys­i­cal affec­tion towards one anoth­er. So, rather than this mess, I can think of two very sim­i­lar scripts that would have had much more inter­est­ing ram­i­fi­ca­tions:

1. Jane and Thor real­ize that they were thrown togeth­er by chance last time, and in this movie, they start to real­ly con­sid­er what it would be like for him to so dras­ti­cal­ly out­live her. There is a rea­son the Aragorn/Arwen story is so good, and part of the rea­son that you root for them is that they both know they shouldn’t be togeth­er and yet can’t fight it. For those Marvel Movies Writers out there, this is call roman­tic ten­sion. Please con­sid­er adding it to your movies.

OR

2. Jane and Thor real­ize that they were thrown togeth­er by chance last time, and per­haps they don’t actu­al­ly like each other as much as they thought they did. Not that their third movie couldn’t resolve this into a more tra­di­tion­al romance, but how fun would it have been for Jane to enjoy Loki’s com­pa­ny more than Thor’s? How fun would it have been for Thor’s he-manning to get on Jane’s nerves? Jane, left on earth for TWO YEARS, could have been mad at him, and dis­trust­ful of giv­ing him her heart lest he leave her again. They wouldn’t have even need­ed to re-film the end of the movie for this.

If you are won­der­ing why this whole post is one long rant about romance, that is because their crap­py romance is the only halfway inter­est­ing sto­ry­line in this movie. BOOM.

Favorite Moment: Portman’s date with Chris O’Dowd. Their chem­istry was miles bet­ter than Portman’s and Hemsworth’s.

Least Favorite Moment: Every moment the vil­lain is on screen. I can’t remem­ber his name or what he wants, which, you know, is prob­a­bly a bad sign.

Least Interesting Stripshow: Why is Selvig always naked? Why is he in these movies at all? Why isn’t Portman a bad ass sci­en­tist? I am going to repeat this point until we actu­al­ly get a bad ass female sci­en­tist in these movies.

Erin’s Rankings: 

1Captain America: The First Avenger

2. Iron Man

3The Avengers

4. Iron Man 3

5Thor

6The Incredible Hulk

7Iron Man 2

8Thor: The Dark World

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And Now, A Conversation

Erin: This is a pret­ty crum­my movie, huh?

Bill: Yup.

Erin: Easily the worst in the fran­chise so far, right?

Bill: Yup.

Erin: Not even Idris Elba can save this movie.

Bill: Nope.

Erin: I don’t have any­thing else to say about this movie.

Bill: Me nei­ther.

This Has Been A Conversation

Thank You For Reading

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Well, thank good­ness, that’s it for Thor: The Dark World! Come back tomor­row for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a movie we both real­ly enjoyed the first time we saw it!

 

Notes:
  1. The other two being when he pet­ti­ly blows up the throne and when he puts his head next to Algrim in a show of broth­er­ly sol­i­dar­i­ty. []

Bill Coberly

About Bill Coberly

Bill Coberly is the founder and now Editor Emeritus (that means he doesn't really do anything any more) of the Ontological Geek. He currently studies law at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he lives with his wonderful wife and a pair of small and snuggly terriers.