Face-Off: Thor vs. Thor: The Dark World

Greetings, fellow mortals! How art thou feeling on this fine day? Splendid! Then perhaps you will join me in this celebration of a new Face-off, and a particularly mighty Face-Off, if I may say. Pardon me, for I have yet to reveal why it is that this Face-Off is so mighty. Well, this is because we are comparing the two adventures of the God of Thunder, Thor, in THOR and THOR: THE DARK WORLD. See! I have not led you astray!

With the most recent tale of Thor, THOR: RAGNAROK, having smashed the box office we felt it prudent to go back and explore his earlier adventures. The first, directed by Kenneth Branaghtook a more drama-heavy approach, while the sequel from Alan Taylor, THOR: THE DARK WORLD, brought some action and scope to the cosmic outing. Neither are the most beloved of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but both have their positives, and certainly their negatives, which makes this a worthy challenge, indeed.

Now, scroll down to see which of these two superhero flicks is the better outing for the Asgardian, and which is not fit to hold the hammer Mjolnir. Then afterward we shall, of course, have revels.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Natalie Portman as Jane
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Rene Russo as Frigga
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif
Colm Feore as Laufey
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Josh Dallas as Fandrall
Tadanobu Asano as Hogun
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Natalie Portman as Jane
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Rene Russo as Frigga
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif
Christopher Eccelston as Malekith
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Zachary Levi as Fandrall
Tadanobu Asano as Hogun
with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Algrim/Kurse
and Chris O'Dowd as Richard
Unlike a lot of the names attached to various MCU projects, Hemsworth was a true unknown to mainstream audiences, outside of Australia, of course. Having only been seen in a brief role in 2009's STAR TREK, the actor had a lot of work ahead of him if he was to truly sell himself as the almighty god of thunder. Fortunately, it didn't really look like work for him at all. Thor may be a bit of a brute, but Hemsworth plays him with undeniable charm and likeability. He swings a hammer like he was born holding a small one in his newborn baby hands, grinning in abject delight bashing the likes of frost giants and metal, statue being. Action aside, he was able to hit home the dramatic bits as well. Granted, this was very entry-level Thor, as we see him at his most roguish and ripe for molding into the hero he needed to become. On that note, it would've been easy for Thor to come off as unlikeable, but Hemsworth wears the golden locks well and had a blast (of thunder!) playing the exiled prince with aplomb, cementing his status as a Marvel god.
Coming off of AVENGERS, Thor is accepting the mantle of hero while also dealing with seeing his brother Loki becoming a total ass. This takes a toll on the god from an emotional standpoint. As a result, this version of Thor is, for lack of a better word, mopey. He spends a lot of time brooding and contemplating his place in the universe. Sure, he gets a few cracks at humor and moments to be quirky like in this first film, but he wasn't as infectious to watch this time around, and this version of Thor didn't really drive home why he's more than a big hammer and flowing blonde hair. THOR: RAGNAROK eventually proved why he certainly is a hero worth watching, mostly by taking those latter two characteristics away.
Branagh was a natural fit to take on the movie given his skill at working with actors and his career performing and directing Shakespeare plays and movies. In order to do that right, it requires sensibilities needed for crafting good drama, especially family drama as in THOR. It is because of how well Branagh crafted the relationships and how intimately he shot his characters that makes THOR a standout from other Marvel movies. There is a spectacle for sure, but the character work and performances are the major reason why it works. Branagh does a solid job at directing action, even if the scenes are some of the weakest in the franchise. But, the aim was to keep the action centered on the characters and not in the chaos, so for that their smaller scales can be somewhat forgiven
Taylor, though showing skill with character work on GAME OF THRONES, seems to have focused more on spectacle than inter-character drama here. He worked to expand the world of Thor to include other realms, show more of Asgard and make the action mighty. The thing about Taylor is that he doesn't have a very distinct style. He can showcase some solid drama and set up an action scene, but there's very little underneath it all. The result is something that looks like an expensive GOT episode with none of the sex or clever writing. Most directors who work in MCU movies tend to leave their mark somewhere, but like Louis Leterrier for INCREDIBLE HULK, it seems like TDW could have been directed by anyone.

After proving himself unworthy to hold the title of King of Asgard, the God of Thunder, Thor, is cast out by his father Odin and forced to live in a quaint New Mexico town where their pride and glory is a single 7-Eleven. Down in the dirt and barren plains Thor must find himself and learn what it means to be humble, while his brother Loki acts on other plans to seize the throne for himself. Can Thor learn to love someone other than himself in time to stop Loki, or should he begin to look for work at the 7-Eleven?

Out of all the MCU movies before and after THOR, this movie remains the most simple. Like, it's the simple of the simple. I believe the kids say "Vanilla." This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The script by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne whittled the story down to its bare bones, focusing completely on the drama between the characters. The movie is very theatrical in this sense. There are some great exchanges, particularly between Odin and his two sons, as well as some notable funny bits. Where the script falters, and unearths the movie's biggest flaw, is that in an effort to focus on the drama between the characters there is very little personality given to them. Sure, they have their surface qualities: Odin is wise; Loki is jaded and conniving; Thor is arrogant, then later humbled. But they don't get opportunities to really express themselves through dialogue. This doesn't apply so much to Loki, but Thor only gets one moment to truly confess what he's feeling inside (at the bar with Erik). He and many of the other characters' personalities and complexities are very entry-level here, and Marvel probably hoped to explore them more in the sequel...

The events of New York are behind Thor, and now he has been traveling to the Nine Realms to sort out the chaos that's been allowed to spread after the destruction of the Bifrost. His brother, Loki, now sits in prison, and all seems to be falling into place, that is until his love on earth, Jane, discovers an ancient power called the Aether and awakens an old power, the Dark Elves, that seek to return the entire universe to a state of darkness. The leader of this ancient race of Dark Elves, Malekith, intends to use the Aether during the Convergence to achieve his plans, that is unless Thor can stop him and save the entire universe.

Okay, the story sounds very comic book-y indeed, but the script is all over the place. The arrival of the Convergence causes portals to show up, which can transport people and things to places, but somehow Jane is transported directly to the place of the Aether? Also, Erik Selvig happens to have created magic sticks that can control these teleportation fields? Okay, this seems like griping, but the script aims to do nothing more than create a story that acts a placeholder for Thor in the MCU while finding a way to bring an Infinity Stone into the mix, doing so with a story filled with coincidences and "What? Really?" moments. There are very few stakes, given how horrible things happen to characters only for the story to turn around and go, "Nah, just joking." It makes having the movie be so much darker in tone than the other MCU movies seem aimless and inconsequential, and just flat-out grim. It's a fun ride and much funnier than the first THOR, but like INCREDIBLE HULK, there's little to make it more than just a big, expensive summer action flick.


First Contact

Asgardians vs. Frost Giants

The Relic Room

Thor, Champion of Asgard

Crowning Ceremony Interrupted

Anger! Table!

Heading For Jotunheim

Fighting the Frost Giants

Loki the Frost Giant?

Through the Mouth of the Beast

Thor and Odin

Odin: "You are a vain, greedy, cruel boy!"

Thor: "And you are an old man and a fool!"

Odin: "Thor Odinson... you have betrayed the express command of your king. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you've opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war! You are unworthy of these realms, you're unworthy of your title, you're unworthy... of the loved ones you have betrayed! I now take from you your power! In the name of my father and his father before, I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!"

Thor Cast Out

Odin: "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

Thor awakens

Thor: "You dare threaten Thor with such a puny weapon...?"


The Mighty Thor vs. The Hospital Staff

Finding the Hammer

Crashing Into Thor, Again

Hammer Party

Stan Lee: "Did it work?"

The Glorious Shirtless Scene/Donald Blake reference

Thor: "This mortal form has grown weak. I need sustinance!"

Loki Confesses

Odin Comes Clean

Thor: "ANOTHER!"

S.H.I.E.L.D. Intervention

Thor: "I need a horse!"

Pet Store Clerk: "We don't have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds."

Thor: "Then give me one of those large enough to ride."

King Loki

Jane and Thor Have a Moment

Thor Breaks Into S.H.I.E.L.D. Area

Enter Hawkeye

Thor: "You're big; fought bigger."


Thor Interrogation/Loki's Lie

Thor and Erik Have a Moment/Drinking Contest

Loki Cuts a Deal

Thor and Jane on the Roof

Lady Sif and the Warriors Three arrive to Earth

Popsicle Heimdall

Enter the Destroyer

Agent Cale: "Is that one of Stark's?"

Agent Coulson:" I don't know. Guy never tells me anything."

Fighting the Destroyer

Thor's Sacrifice

The God of Thunder Returns

Thor to Coulson: "Know this, son of Coul..."

Return to Asgard

Loki Kills Laufey

Thor Confronts Loki

Loki to Thor: "I never wanted the throne, I only ever wanted to be your equal!"

Thor vs. Loki

Destruction of the Bridge

Loki: "I could have done it, Father! I could have done it! For you! For all of us!"

Odin: No, Loki.

Loki Lets Go

Battle of Svartalfheim

Loki in Chains

Odin: Your birthright was to die as a child! Cast out on a frozen rock. If I had not taken you in, you would not be here now to hate me.

Loki: "If I am for the axe, then, for mercy's sake, just... swing it."

Loki to Odin: "It's not that I don't love our little talks, it's just... I don't love them."

Battle on Vanaheim

Sif: "I've got this completely under control!"

Thor: "Is that why everything's on fire?"

Rock Monster Mash

Thor: "Anyone else?"

Returning to Asgard

Erik at Stonehenge

The Portals

Jane Finds the Aether

Thor Returns to Earth

Darcy: "How's space?"

Thor: "Space is fine."

Jane on Asgard

The History of the Dark Elves

The Kursed

Prison Break

Heimdall Takes Down the Ship

Attack on Asgard

Frigga Kicks Some Ass

Death of Frigga

Thor Lightning Strikes Malekith

Loki Grieves

Thor: "You should know that when we fought each other in the past, I did so with a glimmer of hope that my brother was still in there somewhere. That hope no longer exists to protect you. You betray me, and I will kill you."

Loki: "Hm. When do we start?"

Breaking Out Loki

Captain Loki America

Loki as Cap: "Oh, this is much better. Costume's a bit much... so tight. But the confidence, I can feel the righteousness surging. Hey, you wanna have a rousing discussion about truth,honor, patriotism? God bless America!"

Escaping Asgard

Loki: "Look, why don't you let me take over? I'm clearly the better pilot!"

Thor: "Is that right? Out of the two of us, which one can ACTUALLY fly?"

Arriving on Svartalfheim

Loki "Betrays" Thor & "Cuts Off" His Hand

Thor vs. Kurse

Loki: "See you in Hel, Monster!"

"Death" of Loki

The Cave of Missing Items

Back to London

Hammer on the Coat Rack

Erik: "Your brother isn't coming, is he?"

Thor: "Loki is dead."

Erik: "Thank God... I'm so sorry."

The Battle of London

Fighting Through the Portals

Intern the Hero

Defeating Malekith

Loki Claims His Throne

Say what you will about Marvel music, but when it comes to the THOR movies, the soundtracks are better than most of their counterparts. This is because THOR lends itself to a more regal sound than other Marvel movies, as well as something more cosmic (other than GUARDIANS, that is). Patrick Doyle was able to use that playground to create some marvelous, epic themes to sprinkle throughout THOR. These are heard in the beginning, during big fights, and then through the credits. Scenes in between don't have as great a musical pairing, with most of the scoring sounding rather generic, but the bigger pieces from Doyle's score set the groundwork for sounds you can hear even in THOR: RAGNAROK.
Tyler gets the win here because, like Doyle, he found the ability to something much grander than he did in IRON MAN 3, even saying he was inspired by music from movies like LORD OF THE RINGS to make the score. When you listen to the music you certainly hear traces of classic movie epics, with the usage of choirs to play behind either thudding action pieces or emotional, ethereal moments. Unlike Doyle's score, the slower moments in between the grander themes are complex and layered, making the entirety of the score a mighty Marvel entry. Fun fact: Tyler also created the Marvel Logo music we now all know and love, which was introduced in TDW.
Clearly, Marvel Studios didn't have the financial backing behind it like the sequel did post AVENGERS, and nothing from the costumes to Asgard have the level of detail they would in later films. But there are some good visual effects, from the planet Jotunheim, the Bifrost and the Thor/hammer action. Much of the movie takes place in New Mexico and looks like pretty unspectacular. At least the Destroyer distracted from all the dirt and tumbleweeds for a few minutes.
The ante was indeed upped for TDW, with Asgard getting a makeover and an expanded playground, with us seeing more of the halls, dining areas, and training grounds. Then there are all the spaceships and portal battles, as Thor and Malekith bash each other through the realms. The planet of the Dark Elves and even Vanaheim don't have much going for them, being summarized as either a forest village or evil-looking desert. Still, TDW was certainly the most expensive-looking MCU movie up to that point. See how pretty things can look when you're not in the actual desert?
Though movies like GUARDIANS and DOCTOR STRANGE have expanded on the cosmic and supernatural realms, THOR was the first to show that the MCU extended beyond our planet. This may not have been a shock to comic fans, but it proved to casual viewers that the Marvel movies extended far beyond Iron Man's cute toys. There's also more that could fit into this category that will be discussed in "Character Dynamics."
TDW really did nothing to expand the MCU or explore much of it, other than giving us one of the Infinity Stones. Like I said in the "Story/Script" section, this movie felt like a placeholder for the then-upcoming AVENGERS 2 so that people remembered Thor existed. Knowing that Thanos was around thanks to the AVENGERS mid-credits scene, the movie could've done much more to be a link to that whole scenario, even though the arrival of Thanos was years off at that point.
Loki is arguably the best villain the MCU has given us and that's because, unlike other villains, he's given a rich backstory, an emotional link to our title hero, and a "love to hate" personality. He's given time to evolve in THOR so you understand his motivations, and he becomes a very tragic figure by the end of the film. He practically steals the show, even though he lacks here much of what makes him so watchable in future films. He's not near as charming or awesomely despicable and spends much of the movie is quite morose. Aside from one or two scenes he basically has the same expression on his face the whole time. The Loki we know and love wasn't quite there yet in THOR, but all his motivations and animosities certainly are, and those are truly the foundations of who he is.
Malekith is a serious drag. Tough villain with a deep voice and astronomical plans but zero else. Eccelston tries to bring a presence to him, but you could've swapped him out with another actor with an intense standing and we couldn't have told the difference. It's not the actor's fault. The writers just gave more time for Loki (and for good reason) but didn't feel comfortable making him the main villain. Marvel has a villain problem, and at the bottom of the barrel is this pointy-eared bore.
Like I said, the personalities of the major THOR characters weren't quite fleshed out yet, but the script and Branagh put as much effort as they could into illustrating the inner-workings of the character dynamics. Loki gets the best character moments, wearing his emotions on his sleeve when he confronts Thor and Odin. Much of THOR, THE AVENGERS, and TDW explores the conflicted relationship between Thor and Loki, and this first movie sets that up well. As for other dynamics, Hemsworth and Portman have a sweet chemistry, and I wish that romance was explored better in the sequel and other movies. Oh well. Thor is too handsome for any mortal woman anyway.
TDW certainly gets some good moments out of the characters, digging in a bit more into their personalities. But almost none of the interactions have any weight or meaning to them and mean more to get everyone to interact with everyone else. The moments between Loki and Frigga are nice and give some depth to the two, and the same goes for interactions between Loki and Thor. But the love story between Thor and Jane is hammy at best and rather passionless. There are simply too many unimportant characters in the THOR movies to justify all them getting their time together. Sure they're good for a few yucks from time to time but did we really need that much Kat Dennings? Okay, maybe.
Golden Schmoes:
    Best Special Effects (nominated)
Praise Money:
    $181 million domestic ($449 million global)
Golden Schmoes:
    Coolest Character: Loki (won)
Praise Money:
    $206 million domestic ($644 million global)

If you were to put a gun to my head and ask where the money is, I would tell you I don't have any and this was a big waste of time. Then you would probably shoot me in the leg, and then as I was bleeding out I suspect you would ask me which of these two movies I prefer on the sole watchability. In my final moments I would say I prefer watching THE DARK WORLD over THOR, simply because, in terms of Marvel fun, TDW delivers where THOR doesn't. On a technical front, it just has more to offer in the realm of entertainment, even if the tone often diverts into something very dreary. But the Face-Off is the sum of all parts, and on that note, THOR is purely a more well-constructed movie. It is very much a piece of white bread in comparison the overall MCU, but it's a sweet and often fun piece of white bread. The drama is meaningful and present, the action is solid, the story is sweet and befitting of a proper origin, and the leads prove they were born to play the roles. It's all far more cohesive than TDW, and proof Marvel has always cared about doing something different, and not just doing IRON MAN in space. It is a flawed movie, but it sold a character called Thor with an evil brother named Loki to mainstream audiences, and it did it well. Also, what would the world be without Loki?

Oh and, in the end, none of this matters, because THOR: RAGNAROK kicks the shit out of both of them.



Latest Entertainment News Headlines