With Avengers: Age of Ultron looming on the horizon in 2015, it might have been easy for Marvel Studios to churn out the in-between movies with a little less effort and quality, seeing as they are all stepping stones to something much bigger and, hopefully, better. Though not quite up with the best films in the Avengers family, Iron Man 3 showed that Marvel has not been slacking off, and Thor: The Dark World firmly drives that point home. This is a fun, epic, and surprising sequel that firmly solidifies the Thor films’ place in the Avengers canon.
Dark World feels very much like it belongs in the Avengers universe, yet it also frequently calls to mind another galaxy far, far away that Disney also happens to own. There are indeed more than enough great battles and spacecraft-oriented action scenes to make any Star Wars fan hope Marvel will have a hand in Episode VII, but Dark World also throws enough of its own punches to firmly distinguish itself. The story is substantially stronger than its predecessor, which largely results from some strong character development. Tom Hiddleson’s Loki is obviously the best example of this, and although the rest of the characters are also done very well, he unquestionably steals the show with his witty dialogue and dicey decisions. Chris Hemsworth also improves upon his past performances as Thor and believably solidifies him as a strong, self-sacrificing character in this universe. Some unexpected twists in the narrative (which I’ll refrain from spoiling for you) also keep you on your toes despite some of the major plot points’ derivative nature (villain seeking to destroy the universe with some ancient weapon, etc.). There is also a lot of fun to be had watching the plentiful action scenes, some of which also can’t shake the “Been there, done that” feeling, but many of which still manage to distinguish themselves with some perfectly placed humor and unexpected twists.
When it comes down to it, Thor: The Dark World is simply a blast to watch. There are plenty of entertaining action scenes and unexpected plot twists to keep it fresh and engaging, and it continues to pave the way to the next Avengers quite nicely. In some ways it feels derivative, but its surprises far outweigh its clichés. Dark World is a must-see for Avengers fans, and even those who haven’t enjoyed past films in this universe may very well be surprised.