“Thor: The Dark World” – What You Need to Know

This Friday marks the premier of Thor: The Dark World, and judging from the trailers and information pertaining to the film, it looks to be like Godfather II or Empire Strikes Back in the sense that it is a sequel better than its predecessor. I liked Thor, but there was definite room for improvement. If you haven’t seen the first, or think of basketball when I say Odin, fear not! Consider this a crash course on what you need to know going in to theaters.

Thor: The titular God in question, son of Odin, and God of Thunder. Seeing that he is, indeed, a Norse god, his powers are pretty gnarly. The man has incredible strength, reflexes, speed, yadda yadda yadda. Imagine Superman’s physical stature but with way better hair. He can also time travel, and can fly with the aid of his magical weapon (see: Mjolnir) Add to that control of the elements a la storm from X-Men fame, and you’ve got yourself a bevy of badass powers. Thor often runs into the same writing issues that Supes sees: How do you challenge a God? He can’t die (at least it would be REALLY REALLY hard) and on paper can go toe to toe with any foe. It seems he gets used a lot as a last resort, coming in to save the day. (think more deus ex deus than deus ex machina) His luscious locks  made their first appearance in Journey Into Mystery #83 and have been entertaining fans since. When written properly, he is a powerful protagonist with a mindset that varies between brash and powerful teenager and all powerful God. It can also be surprisingly funny when done well.

Mjolnir: The hammer that Thor possesses. It is where a lot of his abilities stem from. From the Norse mythology it translates to “that which smashes,” and smash it does. The thing is capable of leveling mountains with ease. It will always return to the point from which it was thrown, making it the most terrifying boomerang ever. It can control the elements of Earth (better known as Midguard to Thor) on a global scale, and if Thor spins it fast enough, he can fly. Think that sounds silly? Don’t tell Stan. These things alone would be enough to make it one of the better weapons in comics, but it is also a key between dimensions, allowing Thor to travel amongst them at will. It doesn’t grant this amazing powers to just anybody though. You must be worthy to raise it, and so far a select few of Marvel’s characters have done so. Those that have tried have found out the hammer is pretty heavy, best to leave it to the pros.

The Nine WorldsThe mythology of Thor is pretty deep. It helps when you have the entire Norse mythology to steal  use. The nine worlds are what shape and create Thor’s story lines. The worlds include Asgard, Thor’s home world; Hel, a realm of the dead; and Midguard, the Earth portion of their universe. The Dark World looks to draw upon this mythology more than the previous movie, which is great for a few reasons. It makes for a richer Thor story, and expands the Marvel movie universe greatly. I thought Thor was a good movie, but spent way too much time in the middle of nowhere. When you have a story with multiple dimensions, fantastical creatures from deep recesses of Norse imagination, and magic hammers, setting a good portion of the story in New Mexico (void of powers mind you) seems silly. Again we see similarities to Superman problems where writers seem to have no idea how to write a good story without resorting to stripping the hero of his powers. Any time you can punch your way into another dimension, bank robbers seem beneath you. The new movie looks like it will let Thor be Thor. And for that we can all be thankful.

Odin: Thor’s dad. The big mamma jamma in Norse mythology. He is the one that depowers Thor in the first film. Played by Anthony Hopkins with an eye patch, do you need any more info than that?

Heimdall: The guardian of Asgard. He had a small part in the first, and was played by Stringer Bell. He is mentioned here mostly because I love The Wire, and this story about a white nationalist group that tried to boycott the film because Heimdall was a white character in the comics. Obviously, the movie was made, and Idris Elba was (as usual) excellent. Score one for the good guys.

Loki: Quite possibly the best thing to come out of these movies. Loki is Thor’s adopted brother, and the main villain in The Avengers. Tom Hiddleston played the role masterfully, and stole almost every scene he was in. According to the mythology Loki is the trickster god, but in the film his “tricks” are more “genocide and planet wide enslavement” and less “whoopie cushion on your seat” Hiddleston seems hell bent on winning the JGL award awarded to the most charming actor out there. (Current recipients also include Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender) I say you can tell a lot about a man by the gifs of him on the internet. And. Boy. Are. There. A. Lot. Of. Gifs. He (thank Odin) makes another appearance in the sequel, and seems poised to continue his stellar on screen track record.

Those involved with making the movie, like writer Christopher Yost, have not drawn heavily from specific story arcs. Sometimes in film, you will see iconic panels portrayed on the big screen. (I’m looking at you The Dark Knight Rises) David S. Goyer and Zach Snyder are already releasing what Batman stories are shaping their new script. But here the writers went in a new direction, and carved out the comic basis themselves. They have written their own prelude to the upcoming sequel that helps tie the strings from The Avengers and other movies and sets up the events to come. You can purchase it digitally here, or you can pick one up at your local comic store! There was also a recent sale at Marvel’s digital comics website. The sale may be over, but the prices are still great if you want to play some catchup.

Are you going to see Thor on opening night? Over the weekend? At all? Let us know in the comments! And come back to read our review of it soon!