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The UnPopular Opinion: Thor: The Dark World

05.19.2016

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Marvel Studios has built itself as one of the strongest brands in Hollywood. With the unabashed success of the AVENGERS and IRON MAN films coupled with hits like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and most recently CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, there seems to be almost nothing that can go wrong for Kevin Feige and his crew. Even the lukewarm success of ANT-MAN and wavering interest in ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't slowed the studio down from their ambitious slate of every growing superheroes and ill-conceived villains. But, while many of the Marvel franchises have grown or tried something different with their sequels, the one series that had a chance to be something great has become the biggest bust. The abyssmal THOR was nothing more than a big commercial for THE AVENGERS and THOR: THE DARK WORLD ended up being a convoluted mess that bore no resemblance to the best of the Thor comics or anything more than a vehicle to setup another one of the Infinity Stones while giving fan favorite Tom Hiddleston a chance to chew more scenery. THOR: THE DARK WORLD could be the worst Marvel movie released to date.

I will make a caveat to that preceding statement by disclosing that I think Chris Hemsworth is phenomenal as Thor. A brilliant casting choice, Hemsworth is an Asgardian both as a physical specimen and as a fish out of water character. I also really like Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, and Natalie Portman. On the Asgardian front, Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo are well suited to their royal roles and Jaime Alexander is once again a vision as Lady Sif. The problem is that all of these actors are given virtually nothing of substance to work with here. I am sure there is chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth but it never truly manifests itself on screen. THOR: THE DARK WORLD is a sterile and generic exercise that never quite lives up to the potential of the story. Kenneth Branagh's first film had the unenviable task of setting this world up but director Alan Taylor fails to do anything with it. This leaves the film with an aura of requirement which keeps it from ever becoming something more. 

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One of the strongest aspects of the THOR films is that it has the ability to venture to a world other than our own. It would not be until the year following the release of THOR: THE DARK WORLD that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY would show that audiences can accept an otherworldy setting which would later inspire elements of ANT-MAN and the forthcoming DOCTOR STRANGE. But, for some reason, the creative minds behind THOR: THE DARK WORLD saw fit to still set a great deal of the film on Earth. What made the comic book version of Thor vital was his alter ego as Dr. Donald Blake. Thor's journey to discover his celestial roots gave him an alter ego and something that tied him to our world, much like Clark Kent/Superman. By eschewing this side of the Thor mythology, the films removed a lot of the onus Thor feels towards our world. Instead, his only motivation to protect Earth is his love for Jane Foster, something that never truly comes together in this movie. The fact that Natalie Portman was so easily written out of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and further chapters in this franchise goes to show just how vital she was to either of the first two films.

You might be saying: but Loki is friggin awesome! You would be absolutely right in that since Tom Hiddleston's peformance as the trickster brother to our hero ranks as one of the best comic book portrayals of all time. Hiddleston's fame is thanks to his role as Loki and his inclusion in this film feels obligatory to fans fo the character rather than a truly natural narrative progression. I am not complaining about Loki in this film, but there really doesn't feel like a true connection to the overall story involving Malekith and the Dark Elves. The first film served as another piece to THE AVENGERS while this film feels like another piece of THE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. That film was more than four years away and yet THOR: THE DARK WORLD feels almost wholly connected to it and the concept of the Infinity Stones. Yes, the Aether is a powerful and deadly weapon in the wrong hands, but it never really feels like it holds that much of an impact. Loki's sceptre and the orb from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY are both naturally included in the films they are featured in, but when it comes to Thor, every mention of the stones feels forced.

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And that is the crux of what is wrong with this film. Outside of three or four key scenes, THOR: THE DARK WORLD is a mess. The pacing goes from breakneck to a snail's pace within minutes which doesn't bode well for the convoluted and layered mythology. Alan Taylor was brought on to direct this film thanks to his work on Game of Thrones. While that series deals with it's own convoluted and layered mythology, it also has the benefit of spreading it over ten hours. Cramming in the concept of the nine realms and a new race of villains without offering an anchor for us to relate to makes this film nearly impenetrable. The shocking thing is that James Gunn found a way to do it and he didn't have the benefit of any Avengers in his movie. THOR: THE DARK WORLD does have some beautifully shot exposition scenes and battle sequences, but any time we have two or more characters talking it loses all focus or immediacy. The final act does hint at just what Alan Taylor may have been able to bring to the rest of the film but it still doesn't feel like there are any real stakes for this film. That is a big problem when the entire film hinges on the potential destruction of the universe.

What bothers me most about THOR: THE DARK WORLD is that everything here worked so much better in other films. Tom Hiddleston was good in THOR, but it was Joss Whedon who really brought his character to the next level. Here, we are teased with Loki as the next ruler of Asgard and yet no one really seems to notice that Odin is gone. All of these characters make nonsensical decisions that are wrapped up in not so witty one-liners and banter that feel like they were copied from other, better written movies. The visual scale of THOR: THE DARK WORLD never quite matches what it is trying to accomplish which is sullied further by the fact that the set design looks like it has liberally borrowed from superior films like LORD OF THE RINGS and STAR WARS. Asgard looks like a slightly less fake version of Naboo which may be why Natalie Portman wanted to get the hell away from this franchise.

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With THOR: RAGNAROK coming to us from a Marvel Studios within the creative control of Kevin Feige, there is hope that this franchise could become something akin to the CAPTAIN AMERICA films. Each of those movies has had a different tone and style which have helped the character and narrative grow in fun and original ways. THOR is by far the most fantastic and alien of the Avengers franchises and it is about time that the writers and directors involved were given the free reign to deliver something that can handle such a wide scope. THOR: THE DARK WORLD is the type of movie you get when executives want to cash in and that is not something I have ever felt in watching any of the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is great potential here but it cannot be unleashed until someone worthy is willing to challenge the status quo and make a movie that upends our expectations. THOR: THE DARK WORLD is not a terrible movie, it is just an incredibly generic one.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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7:33AM on 05/20/2016

agreed

Thor 2 was disappointing mess of a movie and a real wasted opportunity. not sure its really fits in this column though, i thought everyone agreed it was a pretty forgettable movie.
Thor 2 was disappointing mess of a movie and a real wasted opportunity. not sure its really fits in this column though, i thought everyone agreed it was a pretty forgettable movie.
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12:58PM on 05/20/2016
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
4:18PM on 05/20/2016
Financially sure it's the marvel brand but critically it's always been considered on the lower end of the scale.
Financially sure it's the marvel brand but critically it's always been considered on the lower end of the scale.
8:40PM on 05/19/2016
I liked it, but it is definitely the weaker of the Marvel movies. But I don't think that makes it a bad movie. It was still entertaining, with great effects and well timed humour. Zachary Levi (as much as I liked Chuck) was horribly miscast, the guy from the first one was more believable as a swashbuckler.
I liked it, but it is definitely the weaker of the Marvel movies. But I don't think that makes it a bad movie. It was still entertaining, with great effects and well timed humour. Zachary Levi (as much as I liked Chuck) was horribly miscast, the guy from the first one was more believable as a swashbuckler.
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7:11PM on 05/19/2016

I liked that film

It's not without its faults. It's overcrowded and the film can't make the hard choice of leaving some characters on the bench (for example, the escape scene gives too much importance to Zachary Levi's Fandral; Sif is more important than any of the Warriors Three and could have handled that scene alone. Also, the franchise has 2 scientists while most films only need one. Foster would have been sufficient). It also suffers of the MCU disease that makes every villain not named Loki
It's not without its faults. It's overcrowded and the film can't make the hard choice of leaving some characters on the bench (for example, the escape scene gives too much importance to Zachary Levi's Fandral; Sif is more important than any of the Warriors Three and could have handled that scene alone. Also, the franchise has 2 scientists while most films only need one. Foster would have been sufficient). It also suffers of the MCU disease that makes every villain not named Loki underdeveloped.

Still, the characters are interesting, the cast is great and I completely disagree about the look of Asgard. The latest Star Wars added absolutely nothing in term of the look of its universe, giving us another desert planet and another Death Star. This Asgard, with its mix of viking culture and alien technology, was different than what I had seen before and made me curious about what the rest of this world would look like.

T:TDW isn't perfect but it doesn't have any major mistake either, like Iron Man 3's twist. It's a perfectly enjoyable film and looks fine next to the other MCU films.
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6:38PM on 05/19/2016
honestly, I don't see why everyone shits on this one. Watching it, I got a Star Wars/Game of Thrones Mix Vibe which I enjoyed very much
honestly, I don't see why everyone shits on this one. Watching it, I got a Star Wars/Game of Thrones Mix Vibe which I enjoyed very much
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+1
6:08PM on 05/19/2016

Nope...

It's a nice try, but although this film underperforms (especially given the stakes), it's still VASTLY better than IM 2 or 3. It's far better than Ant Man (which I thoroughly enjoyed), and superior to Captain America 1 (despite them finding a really good origin story for Rodgers).

Lots of holes, but also lots of great spectacle and a handful of great moments.
It's a nice try, but although this film underperforms (especially given the stakes), it's still VASTLY better than IM 2 or 3. It's far better than Ant Man (which I thoroughly enjoyed), and superior to Captain America 1 (despite them finding a really good origin story for Rodgers).

Lots of holes, but also lots of great spectacle and a handful of great moments.
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5:54PM on 05/19/2016
You lost me on "the abysmal THOR"

The first movie under Kenneth Branagh's direction was one of the best movies in Phase One before Avengers came out.
You lost me on "the abysmal THOR"

The first movie under Kenneth Branagh's direction was one of the best movies in Phase One before Avengers came out.
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4:28PM on 05/19/2016
Ya needed more giant dust clouds like in Fantastic Four.
Ya needed more giant dust clouds like in Fantastic Four.
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3:55PM on 05/19/2016

Totally agree

This film could have been so great, alan taylor and the studio made it unwatchable. The worst of the 13 MCU movies. Even iron man 2 was way better...
This film could have been so great, alan taylor and the studio made it unwatchable. The worst of the 13 MCU movies. Even iron man 2 was way better...
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3:50PM on 05/19/2016

Do your research dude

Thor 2 is pretty well regarded as one of the shit ties in the Marvel Universe. I'd put it only a tiny bit above Incredible Hulk. It's weak as he'll and I even think Iron man 2 us better and that movie sucks pretty bad too.
Thor 2 is pretty well regarded as one of the shit ties in the Marvel Universe. I'd put it only a tiny bit above Incredible Hulk. It's weak as he'll and I even think Iron man 2 us better and that movie sucks pretty bad too.
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4:55PM on 05/19/2016
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
+0
3:04PM on 05/19/2016
Thor: The Dark World is a bad movie, it it didn't have Marvel Studios logo attached to it, fanboys and critics would have torn it apart. I give the film a 5 out of 10, it's not the worst comic book movie ever made, but it's certainly not good.
Thor: The Dark World is a bad movie, it it didn't have Marvel Studios logo attached to it, fanboys and critics would have torn it apart. I give the film a 5 out of 10, it's not the worst comic book movie ever made, but it's certainly not good.
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4:55PM on 05/19/2016
If you think it's a bad movie, why did you only give it a 5/10?
If you think it's a bad movie, why did you only give it a 5/10?
+0
1:17PM on 05/19/2016

7/10 (the same grade I gave the 1st one).

Is it essentially a filler episode of a series? Yes, but so are a lot of the movies in this franchise. And the TV shows. Actually, any event that doesn't affect directly the plots of the 4 AVENGERS movies could be skipped. What matters in the end is that whatever we're watching can stand on its own. I found this movie to be very entertaining.
Is it essentially a filler episode of a series? Yes, but so are a lot of the movies in this franchise. And the TV shows. Actually, any event that doesn't affect directly the plots of the 4 AVENGERS movies could be skipped. What matters in the end is that whatever we're watching can stand on its own. I found this movie to be very entertaining.
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-2
12:55PM on 05/19/2016
Honestly, I couldn't finish the article. I read first cpl paragraphs and skimmed. Is it really saying the unpopular opinion of this is that it's bad? This movie is fn terrible. Not just the worst of the MCU, but in the bottom of all comic films and action/blockbusters in general. I'd say it's worse than bvs, first 2 f4s, ALL batman movies - maybe ridiculous the last few pre Nolan movies had a kind of entertainment. Maybe this is actually arguing it's good, which is appropriate to the
Honestly, I couldn't finish the article. I read first cpl paragraphs and skimmed. Is it really saying the unpopular opinion of this is that it's bad? This movie is fn terrible. Not just the worst of the MCU, but in the bottom of all comic films and action/blockbusters in general. I'd say it's worse than bvs, first 2 f4s, ALL batman movies - maybe ridiculous the last few pre Nolan movies had a kind of entertainment. Maybe this is actually arguing it's good, which is appropriate to the column. If not, this persons finger is quite on the pulse of the popular opinion - and he's gotta be talking ab geek pop opinion, right?

When civil war came out there was a poll ab fav marvel (MCU only I think), and Thor 2 was deaaaad last. Did he miss that article on his site? ....Hopefully he didn't write it,

Everytime ppl talk ab bad MCU movies, or the worst, there's a cpl that get named; hulk, IM2-3, AOU, cap 1. They are kinda mixed up, but Thor 2 is there 90% of the time.

Really hope I shoulda kept reading and am wrong
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-2
12:26PM on 05/19/2016
Both Thor movies are absolute garbage. Dark World was slightly better than Thor, only because they limited Kat Dennings...she is just aweful...
Both Thor movies are absolute garbage. Dark World was slightly better than Thor, only because they limited Kat Dennings...she is just aweful...
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2:40PM on 05/19/2016
They limited Kat Dennings more in Dark World? Did we see the same movie?
They limited Kat Dennings more in Dark World? Did we see the same movie?
3:23PM on 05/19/2016
Ha! I didn't say they limited her a lot...just that she was in it a tiny bit less than the first movie. We couldn't get so lucky to have her fired after that first fiasco, though...
Ha! I didn't say they limited her a lot...just that she was in it a tiny bit less than the first movie. We couldn't get so lucky to have her fired after that first fiasco, though...
5:46PM on 05/19/2016
It felt like she was in it more. Especially when you factor in that Stellan Skarsgaard was definitely in it less.
It felt like she was in it more. Especially when you factor in that Stellan Skarsgaard was definitely in it less.
6:09PM on 05/19/2016
Really?? I definitely could be wrong. I couldn't get all the way through the first one in one sitting...still haven't. I barely remember Dark World...fell asleep multiple times while trying to watch it. Either way, one scene with her is one too many!
Really?? I definitely could be wrong. I couldn't get all the way through the first one in one sitting...still haven't. I barely remember Dark World...fell asleep multiple times while trying to watch it. Either way, one scene with her is one too many!
+0
12:15PM on 05/19/2016
Came here to say what the whole comments section is saying.
Came here to say what the whole comments section is saying.
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12:07PM on 05/19/2016
Is Thor: The Dark World not being good an unpopular opinion? I always thought people generally had the same opinion of this movie.

The only thing here I don't really agree with here is the critique of the overall plot. The same could be said for a large majority of Marvel's movies. They've long had a problem with their villains and Malekith was no exception - guy with dangerous weapon wants to destroy the world, hero must stop him. I always thought the reason this movie failed is moreso
Is Thor: The Dark World not being good an unpopular opinion? I always thought people generally had the same opinion of this movie.

The only thing here I don't really agree with here is the critique of the overall plot. The same could be said for a large majority of Marvel's movies. They've long had a problem with their villains and Malekith was no exception - guy with dangerous weapon wants to destroy the world, hero must stop him. I always thought the reason this movie failed is moreso because of everything else in it - too much Earth, generic dialogue, Loki for no real reason, character decisions that are made moreso to establish cool action sequences, etc.
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1:24PM on 05/19/2016
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
11:38AM on 05/19/2016
Are you sure the name of this column isn't "THE POPULAR OPINION"?
Are you sure the name of this column isn't "THE POPULAR OPINION"?
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12:03PM on 05/19/2016
Right? I loved the second Thor movie and I thought that I was in the minority.
Right? I loved the second Thor movie and I thought that I was in the minority.
11:13AM on 05/19/2016

It's almost universally accepted that The Dark World is Marvel's worst film

Besides Iron Man 2, Thor: TDW gets heavy criticism for being a generic mess of a film. so this "unpopular opinion" isn't outlandish and doesn't go against the grain in any way.
Besides Iron Man 2, Thor: TDW gets heavy criticism for being a generic mess of a film. so this "unpopular opinion" isn't outlandish and doesn't go against the grain in any way.
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1:22PM on 05/19/2016
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
It still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
11:05AM on 05/19/2016

Seriously, you need to reassess the unpopularity of your opinions.

It is literally no secret this is the most unpopular MCU movie and yet you believe the popular opinion is that most people liked it. Kind of a similar situation with Avengers 2 but that on a lesser scale, mainly because it was inferior to the first Avengers. Meanwhile, Star Trek Into Darkness gets even better reviews but you deem you *liking* it as the unpopular opinion.

Sure, it made money, but it stands the test of time the least of the MCU movies.

Also, the sequel took place more in
It is literally no secret this is the most unpopular MCU movie and yet you believe the popular opinion is that most people liked it. Kind of a similar situation with Avengers 2 but that on a lesser scale, mainly because it was inferior to the first Avengers. Meanwhile, Star Trek Into Darkness gets even better reviews but you deem you *liking* it as the unpopular opinion.

Sure, it made money, but it stands the test of time the least of the MCU movies.

Also, the sequel took place more in the other worlds than on Earth.
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11:00AM on 05/19/2016
Umm… In what world is this an unpopular opinion?? Thor:TDW literally lands at the bottom of most MCU rankings I've ever seen.
Umm… In what world is this an unpopular opinion?? Thor:TDW literally lands at the bottom of most MCU rankings I've ever seen.
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1:20PM on 05/19/2016
But it still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
But it still had an overall positive (critical and financial) reception.
10:41AM on 05/19/2016
I enjoyed this film, but in my opinion it is by far the weakest Marvel film in either phase; which is a shame considering how great the first Thor was. Like the article states, everyone is perfect in their roles, but the problems with this film is that there's too many comedic moments that take you out of the seriousness of the film, and the fact that the villain was absolutely worthless.

It does have some great moments like Loki talking to his mother in his jail cell, Loki's reaction to
I enjoyed this film, but in my opinion it is by far the weakest Marvel film in either phase; which is a shame considering how great the first Thor was. Like the article states, everyone is perfect in their roles, but the problems with this film is that there's too many comedic moments that take you out of the seriousness of the film, and the fact that the villain was absolutely worthless.

It does have some great moments like Loki talking to his mother in his jail cell, Loki's reaction to finding out his mother's death, the funeral scene (loved the score during it), Loki, and Thor fighting on the ship, and finally Loki "sacrificing" himself for Thor. So basically Hiddleston was the only redeeming part about this movie since he was given the best scenes.

The Dark World should have been more grand and larger in scope considering the giant cosmic world that Thor lives in and should have had a bigger impact on the rest of the MCU like the first one did. The fact that Ragnarok has added some major talent this time along with having Ruffalo as Banner/Hulk along for the ride makes me feel Marvel is trying to make up for the lackluster sequel that The Dark World was.
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