Film Face-off: 'Thor' vs. 'Thor: The Dark World'

Film Face-off: 'Thor' vs. 'Thor: The Dark World'

Nov 11, 2013

I believe it was the philosophers YMCA who said, "Thor, what is he good for?" Well, so far the hammer-wielding god who walks the rainbow bridge has scored at the box office with 2011's Thor, and been part of the megasized Marvel's The Avengers. Now comes Thor: The Dark World. Returning is Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston... OK, um, everyone is back for the sequel. Yes, everyone... except for Josh Dallas. He was Fandral in the original, but now a fairly unrecognizable Zachary Levi has taken his spot. This week's Film Face-off pits original versus sequel. No, Dallas vs. Levi won't be a category. In fact, they won't be mentioned again. It's Thor vs. Thor: The Dark World, may the best bulging blond movie win.

 

Plot

Thor

Thor disobeys his father (Anthony Hopkins) by attacking the Frost Giants. He is banished to Earth and stripped of his powers. Thor comes to realize he’s been double-crossed.

Thor: The Dark World

An old enemy known as the Dark Elves are back, and looking to make everything... dark. Thor disobeys his father in an attempt to rescue Jane Foster (Portman) and bring peace to the nine realms.

Winner: Thor. In the first film, Thor needs to calm down. Even though Odin is strict in disciplining his son, you understand his perspective. It's like a reworking of the Superman II concept of having to lose your superpowers in order to discover what really makes you super... in your heart. Thor doesn't have an origin story as much as the other Marvel films. Instead the film showcases Asgard. In the plot of the sequel, Thor has almost no inner turmoil. He must decide how he feels about his brother Loki, but that's about it. He's just a hero who has to fight. That's not a lot of meat on the bone. Plus, he acts a little surprised when he hears that one of his childhood fairytales about Dark Elves and evil powers could actually be true. Word of advice... Thor, or anyone from Asgard, you should never be surprised about anything being real.

 

Setting(s)

Thor

After we spend some time in Asgard and learn what makes that place tick, we're on a cold planet, and finally a little town in New Mexico.

Thor: The Dark World

We're in Asgard, a dark planet (or world), and another place that is one of the realms. Eventually we get to London with a final battle in Greenwich.

Winner: Thor. When Thor ends up in a tiny town, it gives this superhero the necessary feeling of isolation. Even with S.H.I.E.L.D. there the scale isn't overwhelming. With the sequel, we get to know Asgard a little better, but only a little. Now we know how they all act during a funeral I wasn't emotionally connected to, and we see how their prisons look (a lot like Star Trek Into Darkness). The lack of time spent on the dark world makes me think they should have given this film a different name. Plus, I do not need to see another city on Earth destroyed at the end of a superhero film, for a long, long time.

 

Our Villain

Thor

The CGI Frost Giants give way to the true evil of the film, Loki. He's the overlooked son of Odin. Once he discovers why he's playing second fiddle to Thor, he sets out to make sure his brother can never come home again.

Thor: The Dark World

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is the leader of the Dark Elves. He has sacrificed many of his people for a chance at Aether, which has the power to turn everything dark. FYI, before there was light, there was darkness.

Winner: Thor. On first viewing, I didn't think Loki was that compelling. I was wrong. Not only did Hiddleston give a good performance in Thor, he was absolutely a worthy villain for all the boys (and one girl) in The Avengers. Family issues have been done to death in superhero films, but Hiddleston playing the outcast brother felt fresh. Normally, sequels are a chance for the villain to shine, since you don't need to spend all of that time introducing the hero. With that being said, I never felt connected, nervous, happy or compelled to watch Malekith do anything. That's not a good sign. His goal is basic universe domination. Eccleston's performance will be forgotten, whereas it feels like future Thor films wouldn't be the same without Loki.

 

The Comedy

Thor

A god trying to understand Earth has plenty of potential. In fact, up until Iron Man 3 I would have said Thor was the funniest modern-day superhero film. The fish-out-of-water stuff really gave the film some surprise pep.

Thor: The Dark World

There is plenty of confusion to be had, but it doesn't include Thor understanding Earth, or humans trying to contemplate the gods from Asgard. There are wormholes or portals or cracks in time/space that allow for potential amusement.

Winner: Thor. Wow, was that second film flat. A running joke is Darcy (Kat Dennings) refusing to call the intern by his name. In fact, the humor lies squarely on Darcy's shoulders until there are finally some funny moments with Thor and Loki. I saw Thor: The Dark World less than 24 hours ago, and I can only recall two amusing parts. Loki has some fun looking like an Avenger, and Thor doesn't know where to put his hammer when entering an apartment. That's the whole list. Darcy shined in the first film, capturing amusing ways to react to otherworldly situations. There was also Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson, and Thor asking a pet shop owner for a horse.

 

The Best Scene

Thor

You would think I'd save something about Thor's battle with the destroyer, or the final stand off between Thor and Loki. You'd be wrong. Thor lands on Earth, demands to know what realm he's in, and gets tasered by Darcy.

Thor: The Dark World

You would think I'd save something involving Thor. Unfortunately, his battles are redundant. I almost chose Loki's amusing walk with Thor. Instead, I'm going with Idris Elba's big moment as Heimdall.

Winner: Thor. My favorite scene in Thor completely sets up the drama and comedy in that film. Plus, it's nice to see an arrogant superhero get knocked down to Earth (literally). Heimdall's big moment is when he takes down a ship. Visually, it's fantastic and reminded me of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) taking down the Oliphant in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It's a shame that it is the only thing that Elba gets to do in the film.

 

OVERALL WINNER: Thor defeats Thor: The Dark World, 5-0.

We haven't had a sweep for a while, and this one feels good. Thor, what is he good for? Easily cleaning up at the end of battles, longing for Jane even though he'll only be with her for a maximum of one percent of his life, and still trying to figure out if he wants to be king. The sequel fails to live up to the fun I had with the original. In fact, this my least favorite of the Avengers-related films. Yes, I do remember Iron Man 2. This is a chapter that doesn't matter except for the continuation of Tom Hiddleston's Loki being absolutely necessary. I don't think this is the beginning of the end for Marvel's reign. After all, Iron Man 3 was good, and there is good buzz with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Thor: The Dark World is a (hammer) swing, and a miss.

 

 

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