In our post-Avengers world, audiences have some expectations of films in the Marvel cinematic universe: fantastic heroes, jaw-dropping special effects, humor, and a Stan Lee cameo. Thor: The Dark World delivers these in spades, feeling much more like the true successor to The Avengers than the somewhat underwhelming Iron Man 3.
Slight spoilers for Thor: The Dark World follow.
Two years after the events of The Avengers, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is still searching for Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who pines for his mortal love while continuing to fight for Asgard. When Jane stumbles upon the Aether, a dark energy with the power to destroy the universe as we know it, the malevolent dark elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) sets out to retrieve it from her at any cost.
Thor: The Dark World is packed with geek favorite actors, including Chuck’s Zachary Levi as the fair-haired, swashbuckling Fandral, Lost alum Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Doctor Who veteran Eccleston, who is almost completely unrecognizable and doesn’t get too much to do except look as menacing as he can with layers of makeup on.
And of course I have to mention Tom Hiddleston, who returns as Loki with unbridled, mischievous glee. It may be Hiddleston’s own enjoyment of playing the anti-hero character coming through, but the slyly grinning Loki lives up to the “god of mischief” role more in this film than any other. Loki steals every scene he’s in, especially when he’s joined by the comparatively one-dimensional Thor.
Portman’s Jane Foster plays an integral role in the story, not merely serving as a damsel in distress, but also on hand to spout some technobabble and contribute to the battle in her own way. Asgardian warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Queen Frigga (Rene Russo) also return to join in the fray.
If your kids handled the combat of The Avengers and Iron Man 3 without blinking, you can expect more of the same explosive action in Thor: The Dark World. There is some profanity, hence the PG-13 rating, so you might want to scout it out first before bringing young children along.
While it’s not typical for a sequel to out-do its predecessor, Thor: The Dark World outshines the Norse god’s first outing in almost every way. With laugh out loud humor, romance, and a fast-paced story with the fate of the universe at stake, the film is a strong entry in the Marvel cinematic universe that begs for repeat viewings. (And don’t forget to stay through the credits for two extra scenes.)
Thor: The Dark World opens nationwide on November 8, 2013.
GeekMom attended a promotional screening of the film for review purposes.
Kelly Knox is a mom and freelance writer in the Seattle area, where she contributes to local parenting publications. This summer she's also a guest blogger at PBS Parents' Adventures in Learning. You can find Kelly rambling about comic books, video games, and more on Twitter at @kelly_knox.