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What Thor Did Next
on 13 January 2014
After the life-changing The Avengers, every nerd worth their salt has been dying to know What Thor Did Next. (A reality show HAS to be in the pipeline, right? Like a Real Housewives of Asgard thing, with wonderful asides of Loki judging everybody and... okay, getting off track here.) Iron Man 3 didn't give us any clues what our favourite burly demi-god has been up to, and here we learn why: he hasn't had time to pop by Earth just yet, as he's been busy restoring peace all over the universe. Seems a good excuse to me, mate, but I'm not sure Jane will take it so well!
Befitting director Alan Taylor's Game of Thrones heritage, this time we come to a darker, grimier Asgard. Gone is the shiny, futuristic gadgetry of Branagh's Thor; instead, everything starts falling apart around out ears five minutes in. There are tears in this film, and real losses that change characters forever. The first film was a fish-out of-water tale; Thor was an arrogant boy who needed to grow up and fall in love. Here, he's been there, done that and bought the T-Shirt: this time, he means business, and he's taking everything seriously with a much more mature head on his shoulders, and to Hemsworth's credit, he delivers this as effortlessly as he did the buffoonishness of the character in the predecessor. But it's Hiddleston who's the real treat. He has been excellent in both Thor and The Avengers, but he surpasses himself here. This film really delves into Loki's powers as the god of mischief (watch out for a particularly hilarious, blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene where he transforms into somebody familiar...) and makes a real meal out of his trickiness. And oh, what a delicious meal it is! His murky past, unclear loyalties and surprise alliances are riveting to watch. This may be Thor's movie, but Loki is arguably the breakout character. In fairness, there are no weak performances here. There's a new minor character, 'my intern's intern,' as Jane puts it, who seems a bit redundant, but even he is part of one of the film's funniest scenes, so we'll let him off.
A particularly amusing part of any Marvel movie for me is watching fellow audience members when the credits begin. The committed amongst us are easily spotted; we are the ones who don't move a muscle. While casual fans reach for their coats as soon as the first name flashes up, the rest of us hang on until the bitter end to get a glimpse of what's coming. Here, we're treated to a clip from upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy; but then, we're lucky enough to have another scene, giving us a brief glimpse of Thor again.
My grievances with this film are slight, but here they are. The first was that there seemed to be some kind of aborted subplot expanding on Thor's relationship with Sif. In interviews, I read that her role was to be greatly expanded, and there was even going to be a kind of love triangle between she, Thor and Jane, but this obviously didn't get past the cutting room floor, although hints of it remain intact in places. It's a shame, as I would have happily sat still for twenty minutes extra to get a bit more character development. The second was similar in theme; I wish that antagonist Malekith's motivations had been expanded on a little more. Marvel are usually excellent at making their villains real people with motivations, even with good intentions that became warped; but here, he's a little 2D in places, despite a marvellous effort from a barely recognisable Christopher Eccleston. Still, despite these minor annoyances, the vast majority of the film kept me utterly hooked.
Overall, Thor: The Dark World is a wonderful installment in the ongoing Marvel franchise, and certainly enough to keep me going until the release of Captain America: Winter Soldier in April! And did I mention that I really love Loki? Yes? Okay then...