Thor 2 is an odd movie. It’s mostly given up the fish out of water comedy of the first Thor and now feels more like a puzzle piece in Disney’s Avengers movie continuum. You hear references to the Tesseract, how the Bifrost was destroyed and rebuilt, and the events of The Avengers movie that happened in New York. I’m caught up with the movies, but I pity someone walking into this blind. How much worse will it get by the time The Avengers 2 or 3 comes out?
Right now it’s acceptable. Thor’s mopping up the galactic instability that occurred after The Avengers movie, which mostly involves his smug grin and other absurd facial expressions while smashing something in slow motion. Jane Foster and her equally hot intern are on Earth playing with portals because hey, science.
I’m not wild about Thor as a superhero-punching-things movie. There’s not a good baseline of his power. While Tony Stark often faces against other robots and has moments when his abilities fail him, Thor just kind of kicks ass the entire time. His hammer is unstoppable and bound to him, so taking it away doesn’t really work. He defeats frost giants, giant robots, and giant ice monsters with equal ease. He doesn’t have a weakness like kryptonite and very few flaws except his hot temper and hots for Jane Foster, World’s Worst Astrophysicist.
So when Jane has some unstoppably lame CGI water effect attached to her bones I was totally gearing up for the scene where Thor has to fight her Dark Phoenix-style. But that never happens. Even when the Dark Elf Malakeith (he’s evil, could you tell from his name?) absorbs the MacGuffin it doesn’t amount to anything except some black spikes that Thor brushes off.
Let’s compare the stakes in Thor 2 to something like Iron Man 3. In Thor, the bad guy wants to use an unstoppable ancient evil force to literally destroy the universe and return existence to eternal darkness. In Iron Man, the bad guy wants to control the United States as a byproduct of his research into limb regeneration. Both of these movies take place in the same universe. Thor could end the schemes of Iron Man’s enemies with half a dozen swings of Mjolnir, whereas Tony Stark couldn’t even run from one end of the Bifrost to the other without his suit.
There are lots of nice little touches in Thor 2. At one point Malakeith powers up a henchman into a giant and tells him, “nothing our enemies wield can defeat you now.” And he’s right! Loki uses the enemy’s own weapon to stop the monstrosity (specifically a Halo 4 pulse grenade, hah). Thor’s mother Frigga puts up a great fight and is defeated fairly, not by getting slapped or grabbing her upper arm or some nonsense. Portals in this universe work just like they do in Aperture Science, leading to happy squirming among nerds in the audience.
And then there’s the weird stuff.
- Why are there subtitles for the Dark Elves in this movie? I love foreign films, but in mass entertainment like Thor 2 it kills the pacing. And only two of the Dark Elves even say anything! Couldn’t they find two guys to dub over some menacing dialog? Was Benedict Cumberbatch unavailable?
- I’m unclear on the “Nine Realms” concept in the Thor universe (which includes The Avengers, I guess). Are there only nine inhabited planets? Or do the other ones not have sentient creatures? If they do, wouldn’t it suck to be some humanoid on some grassy planet that isn’t one of the chosen few? Talk about being a third world.
- How did Jane Foster and her ilk give SHIELD the slip? They’re two exceptionally attractive young women and one crazy scientist who visits a tourist site and gets arrested on national television. SHIELD is a covert organization with nearly unlimited funding. Even when she tries to call SHIELD they don’t show up for the movie.
While I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World, epecially any time Loki was on screen, the constant callbacks to other movies make it feel like one of many many many middle-of-a-trilogy movies.