Five Reasons Why ‘Thor: The Dark World’ is Another Misstep For Marvel

Marvel is certainly the golden child of Hollywood these days, rolling out annual blockbusters, tying together a massive universe, and, well, doing whatever the hell it wants. As most of you may already know, Iron Man 3 is sitting very much at the bottom of the barrel for me in 2013, and its release, as well as the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, has me incredibly frustrated with Marvel. I am fully convinced that the superhero mega-house has no more concerns about quality as much as an almost paranoid belief that if they don’t get something out every few months, we’ll forget about them and not shell out the billions of dollars the world seems to throw at the studio. With such great power, there comes plenty of responsibility (yeah, I went there) and unfortunately Marvel’s latest outing, Thor: The Dark World, fails to maintain said responsibility. Here are five reasons why the film is another misstep for Marvel and how the public’s blind devotion to the studio will only lead us even more astray.

Lazy Writing

As much as we’re led to believe that Marvel has “big plans” for its entire universe, the story of Thor: The Dark World has me believing that it’s all simply made up as they go. Sure, it’s clear they want to move from point A to point B and lead one film into another, but my biggest complaint is about what happens between these points. With Thor, there are several instances where it’s obvious the writers wrote themselves into a corner and the only way to get out is to come up with a ridiculous idea to move things along… quickly (in hopes of having us forget?). For instance, a random abandoned cave Thor and Jane stumble upon after a battle with the dark elves just happens to be the gateway they’ve been looking for to get back to earth. How do we know this? Jane’s cell phone rings. The one she kept on her person after changing into Asgardian attire and after facing death on countless occasions. She either has the most powerful cellphone in the entire universe or the writers simply had no idea how to get the two of them back to earth. Which one sounds more likely?

Thor is stuffed with coincidences like the one above (unpunished treason, missing characters, contradicting deaths) and is a real testament to the audience’s patience and intelligence. Hell, it’s almost insulting that we’re supposed to believe half of the situations our ‘heroes’ find themselves in. The last time I checked, Thor was a superhero, not the luckiest man alive. Not to mention, if Jane wasn’t such a pathetic character, the entirety of Thor would not even happen. It’s just a big coincidence that she’s the one person to stumble across the bad thing the bad guy wants.

Inconsistent… Well, Everything

Comedy. Drama. Tragedy. Action. Sure, Thor: The Dark World has it all, but there is no order to how it’s delivered to us. We jump around the genre scale as though we’re spinning a wheel on a game show, and you’re left a bit more bewildered than you are entertained. In this crazy constant transitioning, a lot of emotion is never given any time to grow. It’s hard to relate to particular characters or sympathize with any of them as we’re left with no moments to do so. The film features a rather prominent death but is dismissed almost immediately for a terrible joke (the comedic relief?) and a stupid plot point just so we can keep things moving.

Marvel, we love your characters from the comics. Give us time to appreciate them on screen.

Wasted Potential

Of all of Marvel’s heroes, Thor stands out as the one that is not only the most different from the rest, but also the one with the most potential to be incredible. With a huge mythology surrounding the character, there are so many stories to pull from and places to go. Hell, the dude has nine realms he can traverse through and fight all sorts of baddies, creatures, and monsters. Yet, for some reason Marvel feels they have to always bring it back to earth, as though we’re supposed to relate to him more when he’s on our own planet. So, not only do we get taken away from the beautiful Asgard and its very interesting inhabitants, but we have to suffer through Thor’s inability to adapt to a “strange world” and his relationship with Jane, which is perhaps one of the most underdeveloped romances of the 21st century. Not to mention, Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman share absolutely no chemistry.

So where was I going with this thought? Well, the wasted potential is in the fact that the film feels the need to focus on shit we don’t care about, while completely not developing the aspects we would care more about. For instance, Marvel decided to cast Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who) as Malekith, a potentially great character who is squandered with virtually no back story and ruined by way too much makeup and a terrible altering of Eccleston’s voice. If you’re going to cast someone as great as Eccleston, you need to let him be Eccleston. Don’t make the guy completely unrecognizable and call him a villain. In fact, Malekith may be the great baddie in Thor: The Dark World, but the idea that Loki is still the ultimate villain never fades away. Which leads me to…

A Reminder of Marvel’s Lack of Quality Villains

I have always stated that a great superhero film is only as good as its villain. You can have the coolest, strongest, most intelligent hero, but if his nemesis is a pile of garbage, chances are the film won’t be anything special. It just so happens that Marvel completely disagrees with me on this point, as nearly every single one of their films is all about the hero with very little development on the side of the villains. It just so happened that one of these undeveloped characters (Loki) “stuck” and garnered enough popularity that Marvel decided to make him the fearsome foe in The Avengers and have him return yet again for Thor: The Dark World. Now I’m not taking anything away from Tom Hiddleston, because he’s absolutely superb in the role, but Marvel seems to think he’s all they need on the side of the villains. With Eccleston as Malekith, Marvel had a terrific chance to create a solid, lasting villain, but chose instead to turn the focus of the film towards Loki’s return and the dynamic he shares with his brother, Thor. Instead of using the talent they paid for, Marvel decided to instead let another villain fall to the wayside as the machine chugs along without a care in the world. If each film moving forward continues to have an “episodic” villain, Marvel’s in trouble.

How much do you even remember about the other Marvel villains?

An Almost Complete Disregard for Strong Supporting Characters

Just like with the wasted paycheck on Eccleston and previous actors in the bad guy roles, Marvel seems happy signing on every worthy talent just to secure contracts more than anything else. One of my favorite dynamics in the Thor stories and comics is that of The Warriors Three- Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), Fandral (Zachary Levi), and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson). The three are Thor’s closest allies and friends and go on many adventures with him, facing all sorts of danger and death. Yet, in Thor: The Dark World, The Warriors Three get very little screen time (I even forgot Hogun was in the film), and their existence is solely for the purpose of helping move the story along. Even when we get to see them fight, we’re only shown moments of them in battle and the post-war rituals they usually share with Thor are also pushed to the side and completely forgotten.

To make matters worse, Sif (Jamie Alexander), a great female warrior and part-time love interest of Thor, is again almost entirely ignored. The film hints at a love triangle between her, Jane, and Thor, but is dismissed quicker than it’s brought up. This bit is the most frustrating because of how perfect Alexander is in the role and how great of a character Sif has the potential to be. With how little screen time she’s getting and the complete misdirection of her character, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Alexander ditched Marvel for Warner Brothers and took the Wonder Woman role she was rumored to be surrounding. If there’s one good thing to come out of her performance in Thor: The Dark World, it’s that she would be entirely too convincing as Princess Diana (I can’t see anyone else in the role, actually).

Not to mention Idris Elba and Rene Russo, who are each given a moment to be badass, but it’s as if we’re only supposed to be reminded of their existences.

Simply put, Thor: The Dark World is not a good movie. It does feature some great action sequences but they never last long enough and they’re cut apart by terrible dialogue and poorly timed jokes. Hemsworth and Hiddleston do admirable jobs returning in their roles as Thor and Loki, with Hiddelston again stealing the show, but the story surrounding the brothers is severely lacking in anything new or even intelligent. It’s another outing for Marvel that sees the studio continually sticking with what they think works, while never really pushing the boundaries, even when the entire world has given them enough room to do whatever the hell they want. Instead, Marvel settles with mediocrity and delivers another dud, after this year’s Iron Man 3, and has one fan moviegoer very worried about what’s on the horizon.

Overall: 5.5/10

Written By Nick

Nick is a man obsessed with all things related to film. From the most obscure to the very popular, he’s seen it all and hopes to one day turn his obsession into a career that makes a lot of money so he can buy a monkey, a bulldog, and a full size Batman suit.


If you like us, let the world know…Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterGoogle+0Share on Reddit0share on Tumblr0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn0Email to someone
  • You hit the nail on the head with this one, my friend. Thor: The Dark World is nothing but a clunky mess with missed opportunities and as you said “making it up as they go along.” I agree with everything, although my anger fuels the more I think of it.

  • Nick

    I disagree and agree with you at the same time. I agree with a number of your points (Loki is Marvel’s best cinematic villain, Hemsworth/Portman have little chemistry, the Warriors Three are vastly underused and underdeveloped). But none of these things really brought the film down for me. I still loved the film as a great piece of entertainment and see it as one of Marvel’s most entertaining films thus far. Does it have problems? Sure. But it’s so fun I don’t care.

  • Hela

    I agree with you in everything, almost word by word. Marvel is sleeping on their laurels and giving the fans quantity, not quality, in order to please as many audiences as possible, sticking to a standarized formula.

    But we have to blame Disney too. Alan Taylor wanted a darker and grittier tone, then Disney forced Marvel to make an almost- romantic-comedy- that happens -to have a superhero- as a main character. The plot is ridiculous, relying on too many coincidences and plot devices, and the characters lacks depth because dumb comedy takes too many precious minutes that could have been used for character development, or time to assume death and loss. They changed and added so many things in the script and the final cut itself, that it seems like the movie was written and edited by The Hulk.

    A superhero movie should not be an excuse for lame work.

  • Jaina

    Very much agree with you. Looking back, I know I enjoyed watching the film when I was sitting in the cinema experiencing it. It’s a fun, popcorn film. But the more I think about it, the more I come to the same conclusions as you.

    When comic book films were few and far between, there was a real emphasis on the quality of them. If they weren’t any good, the box office would be awful and that’d put an end to it.

    But it’s almost as if Disney know they’ve got a cash cow with Marvel and the Avengers series, so they’re just pump out as many as possible because no matter how sub-par they are, they will always have an audience.

    It’s not until the audience get savvy/bored and stop seeing the films. Which isn’t going to happen.

    Yes, I enjoyed watching the Thor film. Really, really loved the first one. It’s been one of my favourite of the Avenger series. But post Avengers films have really missed the mark.

  • Keith & the Movies

    Very nice write up. I gotta say, I left the movie with a much better taste in my mouth. I had a lot of fun with this film and for me it hit the target it was aiming for. I really don’t see it as a step back. I thought most of the humor worked and I love the full cast of characters.

    I think Thor is an unusual character for a cinematic universe. You’re right, he has a great history and as a comic book guy I would love to see that on screen. But this day and age I’m not sure what the greater response would be.

    Now I don’t want to sound like a disagree with everything you say. I hundred percent agree with your comments on Iron Man 3 and Agents of Shield. I also agree that the supporting cast was underused. But overall it really did work for me.

  • anotherline

    Marvel is Disney and as we know they spend alot of money bringing names in that are known for their craft and then not utilizing them in any way productive. Examples: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp in Alice and Wonderland and Daft Punk for the Tron Score. Every Disney live action movie bombs at the Box Office and the only reason Marvel hasn’t is coz Marvel has a bigger fan base than Disney. We’ll see how long it lasts though.

  • I’m glad I can be an ally of yours in the war against Thor. Physically, we’d get wrecked, but critically, huzzah!

  • What do you give it on a 1-10 scale, out of curiosity?

  • rwhyan

    Goddamn. Another superhero movie that sucks? Between all of these terrible marvel films and the upcoming Star Wars bullshit, blockbusters are going downhill, and fast.

  • Eric Isaacs

    I liked it. Very much.

    So there.

  • Sati

    Couldn’t possibly disagree more. I find it to be one of the better Marvel movies. To be honest the only villains out of comics I know are the ones from Batman so I’m extremely impressed by Loki being so complex.

  • Really? I thought you’d be on the same side of this argument with me. If anything, you have to be frustrated with Elba’s lack of awesome. Right?

  • Well… fine!!

  • 2013 has not been kind to me lol

  • Very good point! I know that as an audience, we’ve come around to Disney’s tricks and endless cash-throwing at big names. I hope we’ll all come around to that fact with Marvel as well. I know I can’t be the only one that thinks everything above.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • I agree that Thor is rather unusual for movies, but in that same regard I really think he’d be the easiest to have more fun and more ambition with. I think if Marvel continues with all of these films, and we get 2-3 a year, a full Asgard flick with Thor would be a great compliment to the “real” world aspects of the rest. I do hope that Winter Soldier is better, as I think Cap is Marvel’s action star, and if they go all out with that idea for the film, it should be slightly different than Iron Man or Thor.

    And I’m always happy to find people who agree with me on IM3 and SHIELD. I am so in the minority on that…

  • I’m glad you came around after it sank in for a bit! While I’m a fan of superheroes in general, I agree that how many there are now really ruins the experience. We really do need less of them, but seeing as the majority of the planet will still dish $10 out every time to see a Marvel flick, I don’t see that changing any time soon. I think The Avengers 2 will be a true test and hopefully by then the audience will smarten up a bit.

    Thank you for the comment!

  • Chris Widdop

    Heh, couldn’t disagree more. While Agents of SHIELD may be a bust, I’m actually highly impressed with the Phase 2 Avengers films so far. Iron Man 3 remains the best movie I’ve seen all year, and Thor 2 is right up there with it amongst the best of Marvel’s movie outings to date, IMO. I’m extremely impressed with their latest developments, and look forward to them keeping up this level of quality more so than ever before. 🙂

  • Laura

    Couldn´t agree more with you. This is by far one of the worst MARVEL movies. They just took what it seemed to work on the first film and increased it to the nausea (humor, Darcy, etc..). Except for the romance; instead of developing it and fleshing the characters out with quality, they gave us quantity, which makes the story ridiculous. (If I had to see Portman putting puppy eyes at Hemsworth just one more time, I think I would have vomited).

    But the worst aspect, by far, is the horrible pacing and editing. The Hulk in full rage could have done a better job.
    Alan Taylor declared he couldn´t do almost anything about the edition and had he been allowed to, he would have told the story in a very different way. Or a totally different story. (In fact a director´s cut petition has already been raised from fans)
    Disney meddled so much there that many last minute changes were made to the original script to make it look much more a Disney fairytale than a real superhero movie.
    As somebody has said, a superhero movie is not an excuse for a poor work. And TTDW is one of the poorest I have seen in a long time.

  • Thanks for your input. It’s a shame that Taylor got the shaft. I bet if he knew the outcome, he’d not even sign on to direct the flick. And yes, Portman’s love for Hemsworth is so pathetic. It’s not even the muscles anymore as much as she just needs to mope around for him because they clearly had SO MUCH of a relationship in the first film. And that post-credits kiss? WHAAAAAA

    I wish Disney would let Marvel be Marvel.

  • Rodney

    Going? Sme would say they’ve been at the bottom of the hill for years! Lol!

  • Rodney

    Haven’t seen the new Thor yet, Nick, so I can’t comment on the specifics of this article (which is well written, by the way), but as a generalization can I suggest that the balance between making a Catwoman-style debacle and an Avengers-style success is a tricky one for studios to master. Disney run the risk of ruining an until now franchise by overproducing it behind the scenes (I didn’t mind Iron Man 3 really even if you take out the Mandarin thing), they really need to step back and let Marvel do their Marvel-lous thing (see what I did there, nyuk nyuk!!) to keep the money coming in. Too many people want to have a share in the glory, in “the process”, and I think if the filmmakers are left to deliver a film on their own terms, more often than not it’ll be a success!

  • Rodney

    *an until now BRILLIANT franchise*

  • Nick

    I usually don’t scale 1-10. But my review goes up near the end of the month, so you can see it then. (Spoiler alert: It’s high.)

  • Blocked

    I’m not sure we saw the same film. Your well written blog makes you seem like just another fanboy who drank some hateraid. I was tempted to comment on your very specific arguments but, I’m going to spend the next 20 seconds blocking your blog on the 100 mobile hotspots that I manage to protect people from yet another terrible blog.

  • Oh no! Not the hotspots! Anything but the hotspots!

  • Rodney

    Dear God this sounds serious! I guess we’ll have to duck and cover!

  • Laura

    Those minutes waiting for the last credit scene just to watch Jane moping AGAIN about Thor were like the biggest waste in my whole life.
    I wish Disney/Marvel allowed director´s cuts. I bet we´d get to see a very different movie. Maybe even a good one.

  • Three Rows Back

    Pretty much with you on this one bro. Strong argument; I was starting to think I was the only one who felt Marvel dropped the ball here.

  • I always love finding allies in the minority! lol

  • How do you like IM3 so much!? I’m curious, why do you think IM3 and Thor 2 are the best so far? What makes them great in your opinion?

  • Chris Widdop

    I just love their creativity and willingness to break the mold and do something different as opposed to being just another generic action hero flick. Iron Man 3 I especially appreciate because, more so than any other movie this year, Iron Man 3 had BALLS. It had the balls to take some serious chances, such as having Tony be out of the suit for the majority of the movie, or the super creative action sequences, not to mention the big villain reveal, which I thought was a stroke of sheer genius.

    And, IMO, all of those chances really payed off, as above all else, the overall entertainment factor was elevated to all new heights that would’ve never been achievable had it been just another generic outing like the first movie (which was still good, mind you, just nothing spectacular stood out about it. I have no kind words for Iron Man 2, however.).

    And as for Thor, where I found the first movie to be a bit of a mess, what with the sloppy action scenes, forced-down-your-throat-till-you-gag romance, out of nowhere BS stakes at the ending (which were such BS that The Avengers immediately nullified them), pretty much the only thing that actually worked in the first Thor was the comedy.

    This movie, however, addressed and corrected literally every single issue I had with the first one. The action scenes were not only good and coherent, but they were damn creative in their execution, which I’m always up for. The romance stuff felt much more natural this time around, and the comedy felt like an additional aspect complimenting the rest of the movie, as opposed to being the whole damn show the first go-around. I’ll admit that the villain may have been a bit too underplayed perhaps, but I had such a blast with the excellent execution of everything else that it really didn’t bother me all that much at all.

    So yeah, I’m really digging the new movies, because IMO at least, they’re showing signs of Marvel addressing what did and didn’t work in the first go-arounds of these Avengers movies and not only fixing them, but improving upon them in leaps and bounds. But that’s just how I see it at least.

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    It took me a while to comment on this, primarily because I actually agree with 4 out of these 5 points. The one I don’t agree with is the “Wasted Potential.” That’s not to say that you’re wrong about Chris Eccleston cast as Malekith. You’re right about that – he’s extremely underdeveloped, but I actually think that was the point. Did anyone come into THOR: THE DARK WORLD thinking, “Thor? Whatever. I wanna find out who this Malekith guy is!” No one cares about him. So why not just make him a standard take over the universe bad guy so to keep the focus on the good guys? It’s true; I’d like to see him have a little more screen time. If I was Alan Taylor, my director’s cut would probably be an extra 20 minutes, putting stuff back into the film that might not have been directly necessary to advance the plot but having it in there just to make it…well more. It has a similar problem to ELYSIUM in that regard. It’s moving so fast, and though it was hitting the notes it needed to in that regard, we needed more of everything.

    But to me, I thought they great with the good guys, especially Thor himself. After his new identity as the more serious and solemn character following THE AVENGERS, this movie really grabbed that and ran with it. The function of THOR: THE DARK WORLD is to keep Thor himself a great and fun good guy, keep Loki a great and fun bad guy, and basically blow up the Marvel franchise. When it comes to making this a better standalone movie, yeah I think there were some missteps that could have been handled better – especially when you consider just how many problems of the first film that this one fixed. No longer are we dealing with a tiny coming of age movie about maturity and responsibility that…well didn’t really work as far as a plot was concerned. There was so much that this movie did right that I just couldn’t dislike it, and that’s why I stand by my positive score of 8.3. Yes the first act was sluggish. The rest of it saved the film, in my opinion, even if THOR: THE DARK WORLD can just as easily be relegated to a disposable TV episode with more of a franchise function than a function of its own.

    The short short version of this comment is…yeah you’re actually not really wrong in a lot of your criticisms. But frankly I just didn’t care because I was having so much fun and I didn’t feel like the film was being flippant or stupid. I do agree that Marvel needs better bad guys and we already had that conversation elsewhere. I know Thanos will be awesome when that happens and I think the other GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY bad guys will be good too. I’m hoping that CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER makes a good bad guy out of S.H.I.E.L.D.

  • fernandorafael_c2c

    I think IM3 is one of the best films I’ve seen this year so don’t really agree with you there.

    About Thor: TDW, I don’t consider it a misstep completely for Marvel (I thought it was an OK movie and far better than the first), I agree on many of your points, especially the underdeveloped villains. I’m a huge fan of Loki, but I can accept that what makes him so awesome is Tom Hiddleston and the cool suit and headgear. Even the baddie they’ve chosen for three films could use a bit more development. But yeah, Malekith was a non-entity.

  • I just don’t get why they even cast Eccleston in the first place….Shame we don’t agree on IM3 😉

  • Thanks for the comment, Rodney. Don’t have much to add to your idea, as I agree with you. Just look forward to hearing your thoughts about the film once you see it!

  • Sati

    Lack of awesome? He had pretty badass scene in the sequel.