Monday, May 9, 2016

Recap: "Thor: The Dark World" Intro

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been hit-or-miss when it comes to the quality of its sequels, even as of the time of this writing. Thor: The Dark World was never going to be a hit, I’m sorry to say.

I’m not saying the movie was bad, strictly speaking, but when you take a look at the behind-the-scenes troubles that plagued this movie… Well, let me put it this way. Marvel set a release date before they had a script, a writer, a director, actors, or even any basic idea for what the film would be leading into, unlike their later films with arbitrary release dates.

Marvel knew that there was going to be a Thor 2, come Hell or high water.

And perhaps that devotion to getting the movie made would be its own undoing…
In April of 2011, before the first Thor film was even released, the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, announced that Thor would be getting another movie after The Avengers. Kenneth Brannaugh, director of the first Thor, responded thusly.

"It is kind of news to me. Here's what I would say to that: It's that I'm thrilled they're that confident.”

Confidence had nothing to do with it, of course. Marvel guessed, correctly, that The Avengers would have people clamoring for more. But not Kenneth Branagh….

“But I've got too much Irish superstitious blood in me to assume that Thor 2 will happen. But if Marvel says so, then I guess it must be true."

June of the same year, Marvel officially set the release date for July 26, 2013. The clock was now ticking, as they had yet to write the script, cast new characters that they had yet to develop properly, and find a director.

The initial script was a relatively straightforward process, with Don Payne being hired back from the first film to draft a script. (Sadly, it would be the last script he would write before his tragic death from bone cancer.) But Kenneth Branagh decided to not return after Marvel gave the film such a specific deadline. Instead, he decided to work on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. I wonder how that worked out for him?

Poorly, it would seem.
Tom Hiddleston apparently “half-jokingly” offered to direct at one point, but was turned down due to his lack of experience. And after Brian Kirk left early negotiations to direct, Marvel began talks with Patty Jenkins, director of Monster. But that ended up breaking down due to “creative differences.” The official explanation seems to be that Marvel didn’t think Jenkins had a clear vision for the movie... but I suspect that whatever vision she did have for the movie wasn’t well-liked by the Marvel Creative Committee.

I imagine their meetings look something like this.
Imagine a less-severe version of what happened to Edgar Wright and the Ant-Man movie, and that sounds about right.

I said imagine a less-severe version of what happened to Edgar Wright and the Ant-Man movie.


Huh. I guess he’s not showing up.

Anyway, Alan Taylor of Game of Thrones fame was quickly hired to direct the film, with Robert Rodat hired to rewrite the script into a full screenplay so filming could begin in September of 2012. Mads Mikkelsen was the first choice for the main villain, Malekith, but he ended up declining the offer.

Though that's not to say he would never appear in the MCU....
He was replaced with Christopher Eccleston in August, around the same time they hired Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Malekith’s right hand man, reuniting the two from the cast of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. And now, the obligatory Doctor Who joke.

There. That should get it out of my system, hopefully.
And Clive Russell was given the auspicious role of Thor’s brother, Tyr, who was slated to become a more-than-worthy addition to the colorful cast of characters.

Now, usually this is the part where I say that the previous actors all came back with a minimum of fuss. This time, that isn’t the case. Joshua Dallas would not return as Fandral, since he now had commitments to the show Once Upon a Time. So he ended up being replaced by Zachary Levi, who was not only the original choice for the role, but was also no longer busy with Chuck.

Natalie Portman, on the other hand, didn’t want to return at all. She was excited at the prospect of working with Patty Jenkins, and lost a lot of interest in the project once Jenkins was fired. She was so steamed that she tried to leave the project, but she was forced to stay due to contractual obligations. There were other issues with the returning actors, but I’ll get to those during the Review.

Filming went smoothly, though they had to bring in Joss Whedon to rewrite a couple scenes that didn’t quite click. And once they hired Brian Taylor, who also scored Iron Man 3, to replace the original composer hired, Carter Burwell, they were able to complete their movie.

Actor recasting.

Script issues.

Directors shuffled around like a deck of cards.

Unhappy actors, some of which I haven’t even begun to go over yet.

And when the film was finally released on November 7th, 2013, America gave its verdict:


But it did more-than-decently well, earning $206.4 million in North America and a worldwide total of $644.6 million. It even made more money than the first film within nine days. So while the film was clearly a financial success for Marvel at the time, there are questions to be answered: Does this movie hold up? Should it have been shelved or delayed? Was the final product an example of squandered potential, or did it manage to deliver the goods despite obstacle upon obstacle? Well, let’s begin.

Coming up in Part 1! A tie-in becomes canon, while the canon gets tied-up.

"Okay, I'm here! I'm not too late, am I?"
"Aw, poop."


  1. Maybe-controversial opinion: I actually really like this movie. Probably wouldn't put it in my top 10 MCU movies, but I thought is was a worthy (no pun intended) successor to the first. Then again, maybe I'm just biased due to my love of Asgard-heavy stories. And Chris Eccleston.

    - That One Anon

    1. I can't fault this movie for giving us more Asgard. If you like Asgard, this movie won't do you wrong.