Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a favorite Avenger. Even if they know nothing outside of who is in the super group, they have their favorites. When I was a kid, my favorite was Wolverine (but we all know he'll never make it into an Avengers movie because he's now owned by FOX) but my close back up was The Incredible Hulk and I think it still might be. All my friends seemed to like Iron Man and we all agreed that Captain America was pretty cool because he fought Nazis. As far as I knew in my social circle of nerds, no one liked Thor. He was the one character that didn't fit into their world because, well, he was from a different one and that seemed weird. But Liam Hemsworth (Cabin in the Woods, Rush) has done such a good job with the character that he's won me over. But this sequel seemed to have placed him back towards the bottom again.
This sequel picks up some time after the events in The Avengers just like Iron Man III did. I like that they show how the events in that film have impacted these characters. Tony Stark seems to have had a hard time shaking it off and has pumped doubt into him for the first time in his life. However, Thor seems totally unfazed and I don't like that. I get that he's a god and doesn't even really care about what happened but at the very least, his brother was the one who caused all that. The fall out of that relationship is dealt with in this but not nearly to the level of depth that it could have been.
Director Alan Taylor (HBO's Game of Thrones, The Sopranos) made choices that I'm not sure were smart. Actually, I assume that none of the directors that Marvel chooses for their Avengers franchise films get 100% say in what direction or look or tone the film ends up in, but I have to assume they have some. Taylor's choices have taken everything that was enjoyable about the first Thor and removed it. Action aside, I really enjoyed Hemsworth ability to craft humor out of the story that was heavy with "fish out of water" scenes. Taking a god from Asgard and placing him in dusty nowhere, New Mexico was funny. But this film takes place almost entirely on Asgard where he feels right at home.
The other problem that that causes is detachment to the film from an audience. If I see Thor in New York City or the American desert, I can wrap my brain around that and relate to what's going on. The sets seem real even if most of them are still CGI. But placing almost the entire sequel in space on other planets in what we know is a world created entirely in computers makes me not feel for anything that's happening. My friend Hank pointed out that it was the same fate that the Star Wars prequels fell too. You need real sets with real props for me to like it and this has very little of that.
It's not to say that Thor: The Dark World isn't worth watching; of course it is. Marvel hasn't made a bad film yet in the Avengers universe. But this might be one of the worst and it actually gets boring for long stretches of the film. I wonder if we liked the other films because we were excited knowing that it was building toward a mega-superhero film. This time around, we have no idea where it's going and that couldn't be more evident by the hidden scene at the end of the film featuring Benecio Del Toro as The Collector, a character that becomes heavily important with the mega villain Thanos for the next two Avengers movies. These hidden scenes are always fun but until we all know more, it's hard to really dig it.
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