“Thor: the Dark World” picks up after the events of “Marvel’s: The Avengers” with Loki’s sentencing in Asgard. Odin throws him into the dungeons for the rest of time. With two years having passed since “Thor,” Jane Foster is making a very eighth-hearted attempt at moving on. Viewers find her on a date that started with ten minutes of staring at a three- item menu.
TtDW’s treatment of Jane early on is slightly problematic. Given that she basically exists in the early plot to be a something for Thor to worry about, there is very little reason for Natalie Portman to be there at all. Jane Foster could be replaced by a rock that Thor feels a particular affection for, and aside from a rock’s inability to wander off on its own, the plot would progress similarly. It changes a bit later on, though, with Foster even actively participating in the conclusion.
TtDW also shows four worlds—Midgard, Asgard, Svartalfheim and Vanaheim. Midgard is of course Earth, and we’ve seen Asgard before. Vanaheim is portrayed as Fantasy Medieval Village Land, and Svaralfheim is a high-altitude gray sand desert. Muspelheim—home of the fire giants in Norse myth—is glimpsed through a portal, but it’s a completely uninspired roiling fire. This leads into a major problem with Thor. Asgard is supposed to be home to a race of highly advanced aliens. These worlds look entirely like standard fantasy setting worlds. Some guns pop up in a battle on Vanaheim, and Asgard has hover speeders and laser turrets, but that’s the extent of post-medieval technology which is apparent.
“Thor: the Dark World” was entertaining, certainly, but it had some tonality issues on top of these previously mentioned issues. During the climactic battle, rather than summoning Mjolnir and flying back to the fight, Thor takes the subway. There is no reason for this other than a gag where a starstruck woman pretends to lose her balance so she can touch Thor’s chest and he can give a knowing smile. If it weren’t for the alien threat trying to destroy Greenwich, that’d be fine, but there’s an alien threat trying to destroy Greenwich as a warm up to destroying the world.
It’s a fun popcorn flick if you can put those issues aside, and it’s well acted because, let’s face it, everyone involved knows what they’re doing. But it does have moments which strain belief, and it’s tone falls flat at moments where they play up the “fish out of water” aspect of Thor. Tom Hiddleston as Loki is the best part, with his schemes and plans that will surprise even those watching for the unexpected.