It is quite amazing to think that through seven films and a TV series (the seventh being Iron Man Three, which started “Phase Two”) that Marvel hasn’t made a major narrative mistake with their ambitious Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Everything has worked to some degree. Even the lesser films in the franchise had something to offer. Iron Man 2 has that fantastic opening act while Thor featured some top-notch performances from Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. So it’s quite disheartening to say that Thor: The Dark World is the first film where the Marvel Cinematic Universe stumbles. With a storyline that seems to completely hinge upon made up concepts that don’t make sense and a load of dues ex machinas, Thor: The Dark World is almost completely incomprehensible. Not even a talented cast and one of most visually stunning aesthetics for a Marvel film yet can save this film. For the first time, I am worried about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thor: The Dark World picks up where The Avengers left off with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returning his mischievous adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to Asgard to face punishment for his crimes on Earth. However, Thor realizes he may need his brother’s help when an ancient race of beings returns when Thor’s love on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), accidently unearths a powerful force. The film is directed by Alan Taylor (who directed some of Game of Thrones’ stronger episodes) and is written by Christopher Yost (a comic book writer), Christopher Markus (Captain America: The First Avenger), Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The First Avenger), Don Payne (who is credited posthumously) and Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan).
Thor: The Dark World definitely seems like a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. So many concepts are put into this film and yet it seems like no one ever asked if this would all make sense in the end. It doesn’t, and as funny as this script can be at times, there is just not enough strong material in this script to make the film interesting. Alan Taylor and a team of talented artists try their hardest to at least make the film look visually appealing. For the most part they succeed. The sets, costumes and improved visual effects make Asgard and the other areas of the universe more fully realized than they ever were in the first Thor film.
With so much nonsense going on in the script, most of the performances are lost in the fray. The normally reliable Chis Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are never given a chance to stand out (especially the later who is left with a character that decides to switch motives every five seconds). Meanwhile Natalie Portman continues a performance that may be the worst in her career. There is just nothing interesting about Jane Foster, and Portman is left once again delivering a few cringe-worthy lines. The only interesting parts about the cast end up being Kat Dennings and a few performances that always only amounted to little more than cameo appearances. Kat Dennings gets additional screen time as Jane Foster’s intern in this film, and she ends up being the most reliable source of comedy in the film. Meanwhile, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander and a certain Oscar winner (whose appearance is meant to be a surprise) are quite good in very small roles.
Thor: The Dark World is easily the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series.