If there is one MCU film that most people forget having seen, it’s Thor: The Dark World (2013). It is not terrible nor spectacular as a film. However, as a Thor film in the MCU, it can be described as painfully average. Thor and the sci-fi inspired Asgard have so much inherent potential and none of it is capitalized on in the film. All of the characters, plot, and locations are made to keep a very simple story in mind, so anything interesting that has great potential is left to the wayside.
Fortunately there are significant positives, one of which being Kat Dennings returning as Darcy, who is one of the more notable comic relief characters in the MCU. She might not be everyone’s favorite, and some might be divided on if she’s the best or annoying, but her jokes certainly do land more than those from other comic relief characters, and she feels one of the most human in the franchise up to this point. Of course Tom Hiddleston as Loki returns, who steals every scene he is in and arguably makes this particular film worth the watch. Seeing Loki interact with Thor also adds to the unique brotherly bond they share, certainly in ways that pay off in Thor: Ragnarok. It is a shame that Loki is not in the film for terribly long, as he does not play nearly as significant a part as he did in Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012).
However, this film still feels excruciatingly average due to several problems that add up over its runtime. Such problems will not be discussed in detail here, but it is worth noting that this film has the most bland and forgettable villain in the entire MCU, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster is thrown so haphazardly into the center of the plot that it feels she was forgotten as a character until the last minute, and Thor and Loki’s mother is killed by the villain to give Thor and Loki an excuse to team up despite the events of previous films.
The only reason Thor: The Dark World matters on this road to Avengers: Infinity War is because of the McGuffin force of destruction, the Aether, otherwise known as the reality stone. This is the second of the infinity stones introduced in the MCU, but the first stone to have a film focus on its raw abilities. The Dark World also serves to expand the possibilities of the MCU with the mid-credits scene reveal of The Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro. Lady Sif and Volstagg bring the stone to the Collector for safe keeping, but do not fully trust him as he is known to be dubious and might make a play for the power himself. All we know is this is the safest possible option.
As far as MCU mid-credits scenes go, this is one of the somewhat underrated ones as it does give a tease of what is to come of the MCU in space. It almost seems too out there to be possible given the nature of the films thus far, and certainly leaves the audience wanting more of all that is possible in weird, psychedelic space. All of the necessary intrigue is there without giving away what is to come.
However, because of the events of Guardians of the Galaxy, the film that the mid-credits scene ended up connecting with, the events of The Dark World become a wash. Before The Dark World, no one knew what or where the reality stone was. In the Guardians of the Galaxy, the infinity stones are explained as ingots that contain endless power different abilities, and that is all a viewer truly needs to know about the infinity stones. This is done in an expository scene with the Collector, and in that very same scene only moments later, the Collector’s collection gets torn apart. There is no way of knowing if the reality stone is still there.
Honestly, it is very easy to pass on seeing The Dark World. As long as you see Thor, The Avengers, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, you can go on to watch Thor: Ragnarok and not miss a beat. Ragnarok summarizes the only character-significant event of The Dark World film, and does so in the best way possible. It does have a bit more impact for those who have seen The Dark World, but effectively does convey all that is necessary for the characters.
While this can easily be considered a speed bump on the long road to Infinity War, it certainly does not detract from the overall journey, especially considering Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Guardians of the Galaxy are right around the bend.
[Photos courtesy of MovieWeb and The Telegraph]