Let’s start this entry of MCU March with a question: do you remember who the villain of this movie is? Ten points if you remembered Malekith. But do you remember what his plan was, or why it had to happen at the specific time that it did? Thor: The Dark World is generally considered to be the weakest of all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a lot of its details are forgotten. But with hindsight, this movie has some very important moments that set up everything that happens afterwards. What do I mean? Well, read on and find out.
5000 years ago, the Dark Elves attacked under the leadership of Malekith (Mr. Christopher Eccleston, AKA the best Doctor on Doctor Who). Their goal was to wipe out all light in the universe and their method of doing so was the Aether, a floating liquid of immense power, and the Convergence–a time when all the Nine Realms are aligned. They were defated, the Aether was hidden, and Malekith went into hiding. In the present, Thor has solved the problems among the Nine Realms caused by Loki’s actions in The Avengers, and Odin thinks it’s time his son becomes king. Meanwhile, Loki is imprisoned for his crimes and is occasionally visited by his mother, Frigga (Rene Russo, who was in the first Thor but now has a bigger role). During all this the Convergence starts, creating portals in random places. On Earth, Jane Foster falls through one such portal and absorbs the Aether into her. This wakes up Malekith from his hibernation, ready to try to destroy the universe again.
Thor takes Jane to Asgard in an attempt to fix her, but Odin recognizes the Aether when he sees it. Malekith attacks Asgard and his main henchman Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, AKA Killer Croc from Suicide Squad) kills Frigga. Odin’s response would be to wait for Malekith’s next attack and throw as many Asgardian soldiers at the problem as needed, but Thor has a better and riskier idea. He frees Loki–who loved Frigga and really, really wants revenge–and together they take Jane to Svartalfheim, realm of the Dark Elves. The plan is to destroy the Aether once Malekith takes it out of Jane (this whole plan runs on the idea that he won’t kill her to get it out which is… certainly a decision), but the Aether cannot be destroyed and Loki dies. Now empowered, Malekith travels to Earth to uses the Convergence to destroy the universe. This happens in the UK, which kind of gives a plausible reason why the American-based Avengers don’t show up to help. Using stabilizing devices made by the now mentally unstable Dr. Selvig, Thor stops Malekith, removes the Aether, and saves the day. Thor refuses the throne which pleases Odin, who is secretly a very alive Loki.
The mid-credits scene has Sif drop the Aether off with the Collector (Benicio Del Toro), since the Tesseract is in Asgard and having two Infinity Stones in the same place is a bad idea. They said the thing! The post-credits scene has Thor and Jane reunite, a touching moment rendered a little pointless since Natalie Portman reportedly quit the franchise after Patty Jenkins–director of Wonder Woman–was fired from Thor: Ragnarok.
Oh, and the Warriors Three were also there. One of them was no played by Zachary Levi, and they even sometimes helped!
This movie is a big step for the MCU. First off, it’s the first movie in the franchise not to have the Paramount logo at the beginning, as production and distribution are now under Disney and Marvel Studio’s purview. But this is where the Infinity Stones officially make their debut. Sure, the Tesseract was revealed to be one all along, but it wasn’t identified as such until this movie. And the Stones were teased throughout the movie, which was cute. The Aether is introduced as “an ancient force of infinite destruction,” and when Odin explains the Aether to Thor and Jane he remarks that the “other relics often appear as stones.” Considering how important the Infinity Stones are to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, I feel like this movie should get more recognition. Plus it may have a connection to WandaVision! Maybe!
REWORK COMIC BOOK FUN FACT! We now have confirmation that the Infinity Stones exist. They’re based on the Infinity Gems in the comics, and they’re basically the same but with some… aesthetic changes. The red Aether is the Reality Stone, but the Reality Gem–as of The Thanos Quest (1990)–was yellow. In fact, all the Infinity Stones got a recolor which is sometimes confusing. Like, the Mind Gem is blue, just like the gemstone in Loki’s Scepter from The Avengers. But the Tesseract–AKA the Space Stone–is also blue, so now the Mind Stone turns out to actually be yellow. The purple Power Stone we will see in Guardians of the Galaxy was originally the red Power Gem, and we have come full circle on those colors. Then the Time Stone and the Soul Stone switched colors–green and orange–for reasons completely beyond me. But I talk of the Infinity Gems in the past tense, because in New Avengers #3 (2013), in order to stop an alternate reality Earth from crashing into their own (it’s a whole thing), Captain America used the Infinity Gems–now completely different colors from what I said before because someone fucked up–to stop it, resulting in their destruction. They eventually were found to have reformed as the Infinity Stones in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #10 (2017), now with their colors matching those of the movies. As if it wasn’t clear already, comic books are dumb and should not be taken seriously.
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