Trailer Trashin': The Mighty Avenger Returns in Thor: The Dark World
Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium opened this past weekend, and while it hasn’t received the near-universal acclaim of its predecessor District 9, by most accounts it is pretty good. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get out to see the movie over the weekend, but I plan to see it sometime this week. This week’s new Trailer Trashin’ column takes another look at one of my most anticipated films of the fall, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World.
Premise: One year after the events of The Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles to save the Nine Realms from a mysterious enemy older than the universe itself. The Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, a primeval race led by Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston), are out for revenge and intend to plunge the universe into darkness. Confronted by an enemy that even Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Asgard cannot overcome, Thor must reunite with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and set out on a dangerous journey that will force him to make the ultimate sacrifice.
My take: When it was first announced, Thor (2011) seemed like the odd film out in the nascent Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many people, myself included, wondered how Marvel would be able to work the Norse pantheon into the earthbound setting established by Iron Man (2008) and The Incredible Hulk (2008). But with the direction of Kenneth Branagh, a talented group of actors, and an approach that made the story more science-fiction than fantasy, it ended up being a pretty solid film. And to the surprise of many, Thor was the most successful comic-book movie of 2011, beating out X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, and Marvel’s own Captain America: The First Avenger at the box office. With that success, it’s no surprise that we’re getting another solo Thor film later this year. This is the second trailer for Thor: The Dark World, and it’s only helped further my excitement for the film.
The great cast that Kenneth Branagh assembled was a big part of why the first Thor worked so well, and it’s great to see a lot of the players back for Thor: The Dark World. Much like Christopher Reeve in the original Superman (1978), I think Chris Hemsworth was the absolute perfect choice to play Thor, and I can’t imagine anyone else in the role; I look forward to seeing where Hemsworth gets to take the God of Thunder in this story. For awhile, there was a question about whether or not Natalie Portman would return as Jane Foster, Thor’s astrophysicist love interest, but she is back, and I’m interested to see how her journey to Asgard fits into the story. Tom Hiddleston is his usual awesome self as Loki, and after him being the main villain in two films, it’ll be nice to see him at least nominally on the side of the angels. I’m actually surprised how little we see of Christopher Eccleston as Malekith here, especially considering we got a decent look at his face in the first trailer. By all accounts, it looks like Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three – Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), and Fandral (Zachary Levi) – are getting more to do this time, which is a decision I’m very happy with. There’s also a quick moment of Idris Elba, hot off Pacific Rim, back as Heimdall, although I almost didn’t recognize him at first, because the character isn’t wearing his trademark helmet. The great Anthony Hopkins is back as Thor’s father Odin, bringing his usual gravitas, as is Rene Russo as Thor’s mother Frigga, who we see wielding a knife against Malekith. And our earthbound supporting players Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) are both back as well, and I’m interested to see if Selvig is still suffering any aftereffects of being controlled by Loki during The Avengers.
This trailer lays out more of the story, and what it reveals is pretty interesting. It seems clear that Thor and his buddies try to stop Malekith, suffer an initial defeat, and are forced to turn to Loki for help. I love how we’re still firmly operating on comic-book logic, where Loki is the guy who almost destroyed a major city, probably causing the deaths of thousands of people, but because Thor and company need his help against a bigger threat, the most he gets is a few dirty looks and a slap from Jane. But I’m sure that it will be revealed that Loki is working an angle of his own. Also, let’s just take a moment to reflect on how awesomely geeky it is that we have a movie where Dark Elves use spaceships to attack the home of the Norse gods. From everything we’ve seen so far, I would not be surprised if Jane Foster is six feet under by the time the end credits roll on this movie. As much as I like both Portman as this character, I can see how killing off Jane would make sense for the MCU and leave Thor himself in an interesting place going forward. And with Sif already having an established relationship with Thor, it would be easy to have her take over the love interest role.
The action we’ve seen so far also looks really good. The denizens of the Nine Realms are on the warpath this time, and stuff is definitely going to get broken. Thor is doing his usual routine of swinging around Mjolnir and calling down lightning. Loki and Malekith square off at some point, which should be awesome to watch.
Judging from that last shot before the title card, the Dark Elves do make it to Earth at some point, which surely won’t turn out well for us pitiful mortals. And in a really nice nod to the comic book fans, the big troll-like beast that shows up at the end of this trailer is a Kronan, which were alien rock-monsters with the distinction of being the first enemies that Thor ever fought in the comics. But I really wish they’d saved the moment of Thor easily dispatching the Kronan for the actual movie.
All in all, this is a really good trailer, and I think it does a great job of selling the movie. With a great cast, intriguing story possibilities, and cool action, it looks like this fall is getting a blockbuster that stands toe-to-toe with most of what this summer offered. Come early November, I will definitely be seeing Thor: The Dark World at my local theater on opening weekend.
Release Date: November 8th, 2013
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, Clive Russell, Richard Brake, and Chris O’Dowd
Director: Alan Taylor
Writers: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Don Payne, and Robert Rodat, based on Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby