Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on The Marvel Universe – Thor: The Dark World

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Thor: The Dark World:

Final Thoughts on Thor: The Dark World:


Wow, so that was a film. There’s really only two ways that you can look at this movie. It’s either just another Marvel movie, or it’s a pointless sequel that could have been left unmade. When we consider how unforgivable this movie is, that makes a big difference, because a movie with no consequences is relatively harmless — it has no job to do, so we don’t have to be as angry when it fails at that job. You can only really blame it for being a lazy, shiftless, no good bastard of a movie.

And I do.

The consequences for this film are few. Thor gives up the throne, we find another Infinity Stone, and Loki evidently rules Asgard now. The last of those three developments is probably the most weighty, considering that Thor hasn’t wanted to be king for some time now and that we still don’t know what the Infinity Stones are. Loki ascending the throne secretly is good, if only because it means Hiddleston will be around for more movies. If you’re going to shove more shit in our faces, at least populate that shit with enjoyable — but not legendary — actors.

The primary issue that I have is that they danced around the only remotely worthwhile plot points while focusing on this Aether stuff. Marvel’s fallen prey to the old proverb: when the only tool you have is a hero, everything looks like Armageddon. By Marvel rules, the smallest thing now threatened is a city, and the whole universe is fair game. If you’re not threatening at LEAST a metropolis, don’t approach Marvel with your script. If this movie had been centered around Loki’s deviousness, motivations, remorse, rehabilitation, soul-searching and eventual decision to quietly betray his family one more time, I would have put this in my top five for Marvel. Way more of Hiddleston, way less of Natalie and her cohort, and a more complex villain. Alas (and when I think of Marvel, “alas” is often the first word that comes to mind), the story makes Loki a side plot as we follow Thor and Natalie through wormholes and watch giant elf ships crash into Greenwich, England of all places.

Why does Marvel need to ruin every reveal now? Reveal-spoiling was rampant in Iron Man 3, and it’s only gotten better here. We saw the whole TV newscast about Stellan naked at Stonehenge, and then it was a reveal for the rest of Natalie’s crew like 30 minutes later. I’m baffled at why they would waste a full minute showing us his whereabouts on TV, only to then repeat the same newscast later for the benefit of other characters. Is your core audience that stupid or impatient that you need to offer previews to even the slightest of surprises? Let’s avoid trying to answer that question.

There are some painful clichés afoot in this movie, and a lot of them make you wish you were watching Lord of the Rings. We start with a voiceover explaining an ancient battle. We’re introduced to the Dark Elves, one of the fantasy genre’s only real go-tos. There’s an ancient evil power, which is a trope that should be done away with altogether. There’s love between a mortal and an immortal, and another woman in love with the guy — turns out that Space Miranda Otto was Sif all along. There’s an assault on a fortified position covered by a force field, and a scene in which good guys use a bad guy ship to get somewhere. Oh, and there’s Natalie Portman at a lakeside villa with her space boyfriend. I’m not sure I’m finished, but that’s as far as I really want to go with this list of awfulness.

As we saw yesterday, the movie looked FANTASTIC. By which I mean dreadful. Almost nothing without CGI, and enough Game of Thrones shots and blocking to make you sick. Notice how the throne area was this huge, wide-open space in the first movie, when all the peasants were there cheering? And the throne itself wasn’t very prominent at all. And then this time around, it feels much narrower, with the throne featuring prominently. But anyway, this was atrocious to look at.

I need for there to be less of Darcy and the intern and all of them. They’re not written with logic or story in mind; the way they jam these characters in for laughs is reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks, though not quite that offensive.

The only moment we got showing any real basis for a relationship between Thorzan and Jane was when he explains the convergence by playing with her hand, to which she replies, “I like the way you explain things.” She’s a scientist. That explanation was bullshit. She likes muscles. There’s never a moment during which they learn more about one another, really understand each other’s worlds (oh no, she was almost Space Ariel) or do something major that would create love between them on more than a physical level. The closest we got was a bitchy Natalie correcting the master healers on the name of the device they created and were using, and Thor laughing at her excitement. I’m actually stuck trying to decide which franchise put Natalie in a less-convincing space relationship. Scenes like this do not a romance make.

If they’d spent any time on the love story, or devoted the majority of the movie to Loki and his thoughts, this could have been a decent movie that broke the disaster flick mold and provided some much-needed character building. Eight movies in, I think we’re all pretty starved for a more involved movie that makes forgettable alien soldiers and explosions tertiary concerns while instead devoting some time to relationships, inner conflict and the human aspects of these “gods.” If Marvel wanted to take a chance and surprise people, it should have used this series’ Shakespearean connections and given us the first mainstream comic book chamber film. In terms of the box office, this wasn’t the resounding success I’m sure they were hoping for. They barely cracked the top 10 for worldwide gross, and they only barely recouped the budget on US sales. Would it not have been better for them to spend a lot less money on effects and try for something a little better?

This movie has the worst ratings since The Incredible Hulk, and rightly so. Just as with the Iron Man sequels, I see something here that could have been decent, but wasn’t because of Marvel’s formulas, bean-counting and general immaturity. Because this was a sequel, this movie had no responsibility to anyone or anything to do something impressive, which is why I give it less shit than I probably should. But you also want to say, “Hey guys, you got the cast and crew together, so instead of wasting our time, how about trying to make something of this movie other than the same end-of-the-universe crap we’ve grown so accustomed to?”

I don’t want to waste any more time talking about this movie. But if you’ve been following our Final Thoughts, there’s been at least one movie that I reserve even greater scorn for. 

My Final Thoughts:

So I’m very open about this being, in my mind, the worst movie Marvel has made. Because it’s ultimately a pointless movie. This is them keeping Thor in people’s minds in preparation for Avengers 2. Otherwise, there is no point to this story taking place.

It’s the exact same story as the first movie. Villain has an old beef we have to be told about at the beginning, there’s a magical artifact that can cause destruction, there are crazy Earth people antics that are comic relief, and we end with a stream of energy capable of going through a portal and destroying planets. The villains are still completely generic and not memorable. And we’re more interested in the familial conflict than anything else. (Oh hey, remember when The Avengers did the exact same thing too?)

And here, they don’t even develop the familial issue. Loki’s in a cell and Thor doesn’t even speak with him for the first half of the movie. Odin and Thor are on good terms, even when they disagree, it’s weird and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and is poorly developed. (Is it grief on Odin’s part? Why is Thor cautious all of a sudden, despite enjoying battle earlier? Who cares, since we’re already onto something else!)

My big issue with this movie, as I said throughout — no stakes. And allegedly the universe is at stake. Loki’s in prison… oh, but we let him out. Mom’s dead… oh, but wasn’t she dead last movie? No? I forget, she barely matters. Thor committed treason… oh, but it’s cool, he can just come back. Loki died… oh, wait, he’s alive two seconds later. Every major decision that happens is either undone, or is so minute that it doesn’t even matter as furthering the plot. If you’re really gonna point to Frigga dying as something that makes this movie necessary for having been told, you’re stretching.

The only real change is that now Odin is… somewhere, and Loki is pretending to be him. Okay, fine. You’re telling me a two hour movie was worth it for that? Is that all we got out of this? Thor doesn’t want to be king? Okay. That’s character development? The only reason this movie exists is so we can get another Infinity Stone. So essentially Benicio del Toro is in the only important part of this movie. Which takes place during the end credits. Utterly pointless, and could have been better.

The reason I’m holding them more responsible here than I do for the other film contending for worst Marvel movie (which is Incredible Hulk), is that now, they know better. Hulk was in production at the same time as Iron Man. They were still figuring stuff out, and they realized their mistakes when one movie popped and the other didn’t. I don’t want to get into that argument now, since there’s time for that later.

This movie would have been way better if they went the route I suggested — don’t introduce the villain immediately, focus more on Thor and Loki, kill Frigga earlier, and have Thor and Loki be the entire middle of the movie from the Asgard end, trying to figure out where Malekith is going to strike. Then you can have them meet up with Jane, who can still get Space AIDS, and she can help them figure it out. You can still do most of the stuff you do, but instead make the focal point the stuff we care about in this franchise, which is the Loki/Thor relationship.

I’m starting to notice Colin’s point about ruining reveals. It’s actually starting to get annoying. It’s like they don’t want their audience to have any suspense or surprise. It’s like when they call out politicians for being too safe and trying too hard to please everyone. And they end up being middle of the road and bland and not that interesting overall, because you never get a sense of who they are. Marvel seems to want people to sit there mindlessly, and then when it’s over, not think about anything bad, so in their mind, “Yeah, it was fine.” And they keep coming like mindless drones because that’s what you do.

And even on top of all of that — the writing is piss poor. They just abandon logic entirely for the sake of supposed entertainment. How often were we calling out even the smallest logic issues, down to the fact that Darcy still isn’t being paid, despite having her boss become world renowned for a theory SHE HELPED HER CREATE and being forced to relocate to another continent to continue working for her. And the movie just plays it like, “Oh, it’s funny that she’s an intern who has another intern!” No. Fuck you. People should be outraged at that, and how Marvel is treating you like an idiot.

Why is Loki the only character who gets character development?

The movie looks like shit, and you didn’t have the decency to cant the shit out of it like Branagh did. Plus, the Shakespeare is what made the first one work. Now we’re doing Game of Thrones. (Not that I’ve ever watched that show.) Big difference.

But again, you have a movie where nothing matters, it’s all pretty boring and horribly lit, no one changes, and you get one or two minor elements that are somewhat interesting or noteworthy, and the only purpose of it is an end credits scene, and you spent $170+ million on it — how can that not be considered one of the worst things Marvel has ever done?

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we start Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

One response

  1. BlueFox94

    Check out what someone on FB said about this article:

    “1) Sure it matters, nobody wants Thor’s girlfriend to die. (…That badly). Won’t matter, eventually, but it did while it was still in theatres.
    2) Ahem. The words you’re looking for are “Dark World aesthetics”.
    3) Why does anyone have to change? Characters can remain the same and still grow.

    I can get behind the LotR narration complaint. And the elves with the orc servants complaint.

    I don’t mind the movie too much on the grounds that I’m familiar with Marvel’s actual comic books.”

    June 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm

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