On Thursday, 24 October 2013 Irish fans got a chance to see a special screening of Thor: The Dark World in Dublin, only a couple of days behind the massive UK Premiere. It might have been the luck of the Irish, or maybe it was because the opening scenes rock one of Ireland’s most recent famous exports to Hollywood, but whatever the reason, we were all thankful for the opportunity to be crowded into the red-velvet lined interior of the main screen of the Savoy Cinema for this event. If the movie itself wasn’t exciting enough, everyone also received a bag with a random Marvel comic (in my case, Uncanny Avengers #4).
Without spoiling the plot of what happens, here is the background to the movie as it opens – the story is set about 2 years after the events of New Mexico, with Jane still searching for Thor. Meanwhile, Thor and his warriors have been busy subduing conflict in the other realms which exploded after Loki’s attack on Earth. No one is yet aware of the return of an ancient threat in the form of Malekith and his search for an ancient weapon long hidden that has the ability to destroy all the nine realms.
And now here comes the hardest part for me: telling you all how amazing this movie is without telling you anything about what happens. Because it is, amazing that is. I was as much enthralled by this second instalment of Thor as I was by the Avengers Assemble and that’s saying a lot. So I will not give away any plot twists here but I’ll speak about the generalities of what you can expect and what you won’t see.
First of all, if you’re hoping to learn Loki’s motivations for events in The Avengers, then leave those at home. Also, this is a movie about Thor, and therefore conflict on a galactic scale, so leave your hopes for S.H.I.E.L.D. to your weekly nights on the telly or, insofar as we can see from this week’s explosive trailer, next year’s Captain America. This movie looks forward, not backward. But if you are looking to see the evolution of the characters we have come to know and love then this is the movie for you. This is the story of the damaged relationship between two brothers, about the conflict between love and duty, and about loyalty, loss and acceptance.
Those viewers who thought Thor was a little two-dimensional in the first instalment should be pleased by the maturation of his character. This is a warrior who is tired of war, who has learned that politics and intrigue are sometimes unavoidable. When he makes his choices here, this is a prince who knows exactly what price he will have to pay instead of the rash hothead invading Jotunheim without thought of consequences. And at the end, we see a god who has learned the limits of his own powers and has accepted them. Loki continues to perplex and frustrate with his endless source of anger, frustration and trickery. He struggles to reconcile his hatred of Odin with the love he is unable to deny for Frigga, his adopted mother and his insatiable lust for power. But we also see him counting the cost of his own actions, if only to himself. Then there is Dr. Erik Selvig, deeply marked by his experience under Loki’s thrall, the irrepressible Darcy Lewis trying to make sense of events in her own pragmatic way, and of course Dr. Jane Foster, who becomes unintentionally caught up in the cosmic conflict and brings tension to the ruling house of Asgard. However, despite all of these heavy themes and lingering consequences, this movie is also manages to be incredibly funny and utterly unexpected throughout. We are never given the time to dwell on the darkness and the dialogue is a swift and light counterpoint to the unfolding events. And as has already been amply demonstrated throughout the franchise, Marvel has found a way to treat its fans that will make you gasp with surprise and laugh. I won’t say more!
Visually, this is a blockbuster as rich as we have come to expect from Marvel. The visual effects are, of course, stunning and I would expect no less. We see much more of Asgard, including Asgard at war, which I am sure is going to generate endless discussion amongst the geeks and which was to me akin to Star Wars meeting Lord of the Rings.
All in all, I was vastly impressed by this new instalment. There is a lot of information in there I am sure I haven’t absorbed that will need re-watching and I will definitely be queuing to see at again once the movie is out for general release.
And finally, in the style of the Avengers, expect not one but two clips at the end – a mid-credit and a post-credit scene, so keep your butts in your seats all the way to the end!