Thor: The Dark World

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Thor: The Dark World
Thor - The Dark World poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Taylor
Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by
Story by
Based on Thor 
by Stan Lee
Larry Lieber
Jack Kirby
Starring
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Kramer Morgenthau
Edited by
  • Dan Lebental
  • Wyatt Smith
Production
company
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • October 22, 2013 (2013-10-22) (Leicester Square)
  • November 8, 2013 (2013-11-08) (United States)
Running time 112 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $170 million[2]
Box office $644.8 million[2]

Thor: The Dark World is a 2013 American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to 2011's Thor and the eighth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was directed by Alan Taylor, with a screenplay by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.[3] It stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, and Rene Russo. In Thor: The Dark World, Thor teams up with Loki to save the Nine Realms from the Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith, who intends to plunge the universe into darkness.

Development of Thor: The Dark World began in April 2011, when producer Kevin Feige announced plans for a sequel to follow the crossover film The Avengers. In July 2011, Kenneth Branagh, the director of Thor, withdrew from the project. Brian Kirk and Patty Jenkins were considered to direct the film before Taylor was hired in January 2012. The supporting cast filled out in August 2012, with the hiring of Eccleston, Dennings, and Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Principal photography began in September 2012 in Surrey, England with filming continuing in Iceland and London, before wrapping up in December 2012. Thor: The Dark World was converted to 3D in post-production.

Thor: The Dark World premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on October 22, 2013. It was released internationally on October 30, 2013, and on November 8, 2013, in the United States. The film received mixed reviews[4][5] and was a commercial success, having grossed over $644 million worldwide.

Plot[edit]

Eons ago, Bor, father of Odin, clashes with the Dark Elf Malekith, who seeks to destroy the universe using a weapon known as the Aether. After conquering Malekith's forces, including enhanced warriors called the Kursed, on their home world of Svartalfheim, Bor safeguards the Aether within a stone column. Unbeknownst to Bor, Malekith, his lieutenant Algrim, and a handful of Dark Elves escape into suspended animation.

In present-day Asgard, Loki stands imprisoned for his war crimes on Earth. Meanwhile, Thor, alongside warriors Fandral, Volstagg, and Sif repel marauders on Vanaheim, home of their comrade Hogun; it is the final battle in a war to pacify the Nine Realms following the reconstruction of Bifröst, the "Rainbow Bridge" between realms, which had been destroyed two years earlier. The Asgardians soon learn that the Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms, is imminent; as the event approaches, portals linking the worlds appear at random.

In London, astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster and her intern Darcy Lewis travel to an abandoned factory where such portals have appeared, disrupting the laws of physics around them. Separating from the group, Jane is teleported to another world, where she is infected by the Aether. Heimdall alerts Thor that Jane has moved beyond his near omniscient sight, leading Thor to Earth. When Thor finds Jane, she inadvertently releases an unearthly force, and Thor returns with her to Asgard. Odin, recognizing the Aether, warns that the Aether will not only kill Jane, but that its return heralds a catastrophic prophecy.

Malekith, awakened by the Aether's release, turns Algrim into a Kursed and attacks Asgard. During the battle, Malekith and Algrim search for Jane, sensing that she contains the Aether. Thor's mother Frigga is killed protecting Jane, and Malekith and Algrim are forced to flee without Jane. Despite Odin's orders not to leave Asgard, Thor reluctantly enlists the help of Loki, who knows of a secret portal to Svartalfheim, where they will use Jane to lure and confront Malekith, away from Asgard. In return, Thor promises Loki vengeance on Malekith for killing their mother. With Volstagg and Sif stalling Asgardian soldiers and Fandral assisting their escape, Thor, Loki, and Jane head to Svartalfheim.

There, Loki tricks Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Jane, but Thor's attempt to destroy the exposed substance fails. Malekith merges with the Aether and leaves in his ship as Loki is fatally wounded while killing Algrim. Thor, cradling Loki in his arms, promises to tell their father of his sacrifice. Afterwards, Thor and Jane discover another portal in a nearby cave and reunite in London with Darcy and Jane's mentor Dr. Erik Selvig — who was briefly institutionalized due to the mental trauma he suffered during Loki's attack on Earth. They learn that Malekith plans to destroy the universe and restore the Dark Elves to dominance by unleashing the Aether at the center of the Convergence in Greenwich. Thor battles Malekith through various portals and across multiple worlds until one portal separates them, leaving Malekith unopposed on Earth. Thor returns in time to help his mortal comrades use their scientific equipment to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is crushed by his own damaged ship.

Thor returns to Asgard, where he declines Odin's offer to take the throne and tells Odin of Loki's sacrifice. As he leaves, Odin's form transforms to that of a grinning Loki.

In a mid-credits scene, Volstagg and Sif visit the Collector and entrust the Aether to his care, commenting that, with the Tesseract already in Asgard, having two Infinity Stones so close together would be dangerous. As they leave, the Collector remarks, "One down, five to go." In a post-credits scene, Jane and Thor reunite on Earth while somewhere in London a frost monster from Jotunheim, accidentally transported to Earth during the final battle, continues to run amok.

Cast[edit]

The cast of Thor: The Dark World at the world premiere in London. Top to bottom: Hemsworth, Portman, Hiddleston, Elba, Eccleston, Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Dennings.
The crown prince of Asgard, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.[6] Hemsworth stated that the film addresses unresolved issues regarding Thor's relationships from previous films, "For Thor and Jane, there are some unanswered questions now, since obviously he didn't stop in and catch up with her in The Avengers. Thor might have some explaining to do in this one. And with Loki, we get down to the major bones of our conflict with everything that's come from Thor to Avengers to now."[7] Hemsworth added, "Thor's journey I think picks more so up from where we left the first one—About to take on the throne... and now coming to the realization of what responsibility comes with that. Also, Alan [Taylor] keeps talking about the dark side of that responsibility, and the secrets of being king or becoming sort of very political about what people need to know and what they want to know."[8]
An astrophysicist and Thor's love interest,[9] who is brought from Earth to Asgard by Thor after she is infected with a mysterious energy.[10] Producer Kevin Feige said, "[W]hile Thor was a fish out of water on Earth in the first two films (Thor and The Avengers), this time Jane is very much a fish out of water in Asgard."[11] Portman reiterated, "It was a whole different adventure this time. Because Jane is the fish out of water. I didn't want to make it like Bill & Ted, or like a valley girl dumped into Shakespeareland."[12] Portman also said the film finds Jane at a different place in her life, "Jane has moved, so she's now in London, not in Santa Fe anymore. Obviously she has gone through missing Thor and also being upset at him because he didn't come knock on her door when he was on her planet. She's definitely been getting over that and trying to move on."[13] Hemsworth's wife Elsa Pataky stood in for Portman during the final kissing scene due to a scheduling conflict.[14]
Thor's adoptive brother and nemesis, based on the deity of the same name, who forms an uneasy alliance with Thor against the Dark Elves.[15][16][17] On where he wished to take the character in the film, Hiddleston said, "I'd like to take [Loki] to his absolute rock bottom. I'd like to see him yield, essentially, to his darkest instincts. Then, having hit rock bottom, maybe come back up. I think the fascination for me about playing Loki is that, in the history of the mythology and the comic books and the Scandinavian myths, is he's constantly dancing on this fault line of the dark side and redemption."[18] Hiddleston recalled, "When I met Alan [Taylor], he asked me how I thought I could do Loki again without repeating myself and I remembered talking with Kevin Feige when we were on the Avengers promotional tour. I said, 'OK, you've seen Thor and Loki be antagonistic for two films now. It would be amazing to see them fight side by side. I've been the bad guy now twice, so I can't be again, or otherwise I shouldn't be in the film. So we have to find a new role for me to play."[19]
The king of Asgard, father of Thor, and adoptive father of Loki, based on the deity of the same name,[20] who disapproves of Jane Foster being in Asgard.[10][11] Regarding Thor's relationship with his father, Hemsworth said, "[T]he conflict between Thor and Odin was so great in the first one... so, certainly they disagree as I think they always will at times but there's a far greater respect from each other. So it becomes, I guess, a more mature conversation, but there's more at stake this time, too. It's not sort of just their individual egos, the whole universe is at stake."[8] As to his approach Hopkins said, "I just play Odin like a human being, with maybe a little more dimension. I grow a beard, look hopefully impressive and keep it as real as possible."[13]
Foster's mentor and colleague.[21] Skarsgård said, the film finds Selvig in a "disrupted mode" explaining, "Having a god in your head for a while creates some psychological problems", referring to the character's ordeal following The Avengers.[22]
The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the mythological deity of the same name.[23] Elba said he has a larger role in the sequel, "In the new film we're going to get to know Heimdall the Asgardian a bit better, and we're going to get to know Asgard a bit better. I can't say too much, but the expansion of Thor in his world is going to be huge. My part was very small and functional in the first film".[24]
The ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim.[25] About Malekith's motivation, Eccleston said, "There is a kind of tragic quality to his quest. Because he's lost his wife, he's lost his children. He's lost everything. And he returns for revenge. And the agent for his revenge is the Aether. If he gets hold of that, he is omnipotent."[26] Eccleston continued, "What I thought about a great deal was revenge—there's huge amounts of revenge. One quote is: 'When you seek revenge, be sure to dig two graves.' I did a film called Revengers Tragedy where I played a guy called Vindici—from the word 'vindictive'—and he is the distillation of revenge. So, in a way, that was what I had to think of: how revenge can make you absolutely monomaniacal—though you're still trying to make it recognizably motive-led. It's just the personification of movie evil."[19] However Taylor stated that a lot of scenes involving Malekith's backstory had to be cut from the film to make it more efficient.[27] Eccleston revealed that he speaks an invented language for the film explaining, "The Elvish language is definitely based on European languages. I think there’s probably some Finnish in there. It does have its logic and its rhythms. It also has many syllables and it's very difficult to do while remaining naturalistic. It's been a particular challenge for us but hopefully it gives the film some complexity and variety."[13] Eccleston also said the role required six hours of make-up and 45 minutes in wardrobe.[26]
A Dark Elf, and Malekith's trusted and loyal lieutenant, who is transformed into a monstrous creature in order to destroy Thor.[28][29] Akinnuoye-Agbaje described Kurse as "an amalgamation of a bull and a lava-like creature. He has very animalistic tendencies but with this insatiable and unstoppable power. As an actor, that's one of the hardest things to embody. You have to realize you are probably the most powerful thing you could imagine. And you have to be that. You can't pretend, so that when you face Thor, it's real."[30] Akinnuoye-Agbaje stated the role required three hours of make-up a day and had to put on heavy duty prosthetics explaining, "The outfit weighed about 40 pounds. I'm sure there will be a certain amount of CGI but a good 80% was me in that suit."[30] About the character Akinnuoye-Agbaje said, "I suppose Algrim and Kurse would be the quintessential baddies, but in reality they are what I perceive as the scorn and the victims of the story. They are the elves who have basically lost their planet and their race to another race, the Asgardians. Here is a man/alien who places a noble objective beyond his own life and I think there is something extremely inspiring about that because he looks at the bigger picture and sees himself as a means to that end." Akinnuoye-Agbaje added, "I worked with director Alan Taylor in trying to maintain Algrim's humanity all the way throughout Kurse's transformation, so that even when you see Kurse the beast, you can still relate to him as being Algrim inside. And symbolically we did that by keeping the same piercing blue eyes throughout."[13]
A political science major who is interning for Foster.[29][31] Her role in the film was expanded from the comic relief sidekick role she played in the first Thor film.[32] Dennings said her character is "really bad at real science in this first movie. In the second movie, she's more interested, but she still doesn't know anything about it. She loves Jane, she really wants Jane and Thor to be together. It's almost like her own little soap opera that she watches."[31]
A member of the Warriors Three; a group of three Asgardian adventurers who are among Thor's closest comrades, known for both his hearty appetite and wide girth.[33] About the character Stevenson said, "He's got a heart the size of a planet that he wears on his sleeve, so he's like a big kid."[13] Regarding Volstagg's role in this film, Stevenson said, "Volstagg is struggling, he has a brood, they [the Warriors Three] are fighting for hearth and home as much as for the idea of Asgard itself. That's where he has trouble." Explaining, "He's all too aware of how potentially threatening this new enemy is on both the home front and the battlefield."[34]
A member of the Warriors Three, characterized as an irrepressible swashbuckler and romantic.[35] Levi replaced Joshua Dallas in the role due to his commitment on Once Upon a Time. Levi was originally up for the role in the first film, but had to bow out due to his commitment on Chuck.[36] Levi compared the character to Flynn Rider, the character he played in the animated feature, Tangled, "Fandral is a little similar to Rider in some ways... He's like this lothario. He's like Errol Flynn. He loves ladies, as do I".[37] Regarding the dynamic of the Warriors Three, Levi said, "The Warriors Three are here to support Thor. We are his confidants, his best friends. We've all grown up together in a lot of ways and fought many a battle together, escaped death. To me it's the way best friends ought to be—they're there when you need to talk and they're there if you don't want to talk, and they're there if you need to escape from your father's place in a flying skiff!"[13]
A member of the Warriors Three, a native of Vanaheim[22] primarily identified by his grim demeanor.[38]
An Asgardian warrior, Thor's childhood friend and Jane Foster's romantic rival, based on the deity of the same name.[11][39] Alexander said there is more character development for Sif and the film explores the Sif-Thor relationship.[40] Alexander elaborated, "I really tried to bring a little bit more vulnerability in this film. Sif is very much in love with Thor and very much cares about his well-being. So she kicks a lot of butt in this movie but she also opens her heart a lot."[13] Alexander suffered a severe back injury while on the set. About the injury, she said, "It was raining, it was dark outside, it was like 5 in the morning—and I went down a metal staircase and slipped and slipped a disc in my thoracic spine and chipped 11 of my vertebrae. I knocked my left shoulder out of place and tore my rhomboid on my right side... It took me out of filming for a month".[41]
The wife of Odin, queen of Asgard, mother of Thor and adoptive mother of Loki, based on the mythological deity of the same name.[42] Russo said that her role was expanded and explores Frigga's relationship with Loki, "You know, they cut me [down] in the first film. Kenneth Branagh sent me a nice note, because he understood, he's an actor. You move on, what are you going to do? But I think they're going to need a good mom in the next film. Loki needs his mom. I have a lot of compassion for [Loki]. But we might have to have a conversation about what he just did".[43]

Additionally, Alice Krige portrays Eir, an Asgardian physician.[44] Chris O'Dowd was cast as Richard,[45][46] a suitor of Jane Foster's. Benicio del Toro, who plays the Collector in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy, appears in a mid-credits scene with Ophelia Lovibond, who plays his aide Carina.[47][48][49][50] Jonathan Howard plays Ian Boothby,[51] Darcy's intern. Tony Curran plays Bor, Odin's father, based on the deity of the same name.[52][53] Clive Russell plays Tyr, based on the deity of the same name.[54] Richard Brake portrays a captain in the Einherjar.[54] Chris Evans makes an uncredited cameo appearance[55] as Loki masquerading as Captain America, while Thor co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance[56] as a patient in a mental ward.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

"In both cases, it's using the conceit of a fantastical, alien world to make fresh what is really a domestic drama. In Game of Thrones, seeing Tyrion battle with his sister Cersei, seeing the relationships between children and their fathers... It's all the stuff we're interested in at a psychological level because we're living it all the time. But it takes place in this otherwise fantastical, foreign realm. I think the same thing is true in Thor. The brilliant thing Ken Branagh did in launching it was making it very much a story about two brothers, a story about brothers competing for the love of their father. So it's small, confined and human at the same time it's this blown-out, intergalactic world."

—Alan Taylor, director of Thor: The Dark World and several episodes of Game of Thrones[57]

In April 2011 before the release of Thor (2011), Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige stated that following The Avengers (2012), "Thor will go off into a new adventure."[58] Kenneth Branagh, director of Thor, responded to his comments, saying, "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. I shall wait for the audience to tell us whether there should be a second one, and then if that's a nice conversation to be had [among] all of us, that'd be thrilling. 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".[59] Feige later explained that Marvel Studios would gauge how well Thor did at the box office before announcing sequels, but stated, "Don Payne is working on story ideas for a part two. We've got various options with Ken [Branagh] to discuss coming back, but right now the focus is on the first one. Don is, slowly but surely, thinking about where to take the character next should we be so lucky".[60]

In June 2011, Walt Disney Studios set a July 26, 2013 release date for the Thor sequel with Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as the title hero. It was also reported that Branagh would not be returning as director but would likely be involved in a producing capacity.[6] The Los Angeles Times cited the long commitment necessary for a special effects-heavy epic and the pressure to start the script process right away as reasons for Branagh's departure, although he was initially enthused by the chance to direct the sequel.[61] The following day, Marvel formally hired Payne, one of the credited writers of the first film, to script the sequel.[62] In August, Brian Kirk entered early negotiations to direct the Thor sequel. The film would have marked Kirk's first time directing a big-budget motion picture, after having directed television series for HBO, Showtime and the BBC, including Game of Thrones.[63]

In September 2011, Tom Hiddleston confirmed he would return in the sequel, speculating that in the film, "[Loki will] have to take responsibility for what he's done".[15] Patty Jenkins, the director of Monster and the pilot episode of AMC's The Killing, entered early negotiations with Marvel Studios and Disney to direct the film, after Kirk had passed due to contractual sticking points that arose during negotiations.[64] Later in the month, Feige stated the sequel would "take Thor literally to other worlds" and would "primarily be the journey of that character, of he and Jane Foster and how the new dynamic with his father is working out, as well as what are the broader stakes for The Nine Worlds".[65] On October 13, 2011, Marvel confirmed that Jenkins would direct the sequel and Natalie Portman would return to star.[9] Disney also moved the release date for the film to November 15, 2013.[66]

Pre-production[edit]

"The main difference I have [from Branagh's approach] is really to do with look and tone. Things look really dirty. The first Thor was quite shiny and it was a very conscious, smart choice. When I came in, I wanted to get more of a sense of the Norse mythology: the Viking quality, the texture and weight of the history. He’s a superhero, but he’s been around for thousands of years. His dad is god!"

—Alan Taylor[19]

In December 2011, Jenkins exited the project, citing "creative differences".[67] She stated, "I have had a great time working at Marvel. We parted on very good terms, and I look forward to working with them again."[68] Three days later, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Marvel was looking at Alan Taylor and Daniel Minahan as prospective directors to replace Jenkins. THR also reported that Marvel was in the midst of hiring a writer to rewrite Don Payne's script and the shortlist of possible writers consists of John Collee, Robert Rodat, and Roger Avary.[69] At the end of the month, Alan Taylor, best known for directing episodes of the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, was chosen to direct the sequel.[70] Feige mentioned Taylor's work on the series Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones as reasons for his hiring, saying "With Alan's direction we got a few more layers of patina, of texture, of reality into our golden realm."[13]

By January 10, Marvel Studios had commissioned screenwriter Robert Rodat to rewrite the sequel and Hiddleston stated that filming was expected to begin in London in the summer of 2012.[71][72] Hemsworth later confirmed that filming was scheduled to begin in August.[73][74] Hemsworth also revealed that the film would have a more Viking-influenced feel, elaborating "I think the science fiction element to Thor … the danger is it falls a little bit into the world of it's 'tough to throw a light to.' I think of big waterfalls and mountains and a Viking influence, where the Norse mythology kind of grew from. Having that in Asgard is going to make it all the more special and that's what Alan [Taylor] wants to bring to it." [sic][73] Feige said "while the relationship between Loki and Thor certainly has changed [after the events of the movie The Avengers] and has progressed, a lot of Thor 2 is picking up where it left off in terms of Jane, who you just saw for a moment on a computer monitor, and also what's been going on in the nine realms without the Asgardians being able to use the Bifrost." Feige also said that while Loki has a part, "there will be a different villain, another big villain".[74]

In May 2012, Mads Mikkelsen began talks to play one of the villains in the film and Anthony Hopkins, who played Odin in the first film, committed to returning in the sequel.[20][75] At the end of the month, Disney moved up the release date for the film a week ahead of the previous date to November 8, 2013.[76]

By June 2012, much of the first film's supporting cast was confirmed to return, including Idris Elba,[23] Jaimie Alexander,[39] Ray Stevenson[33] and Stellan Skarsgård.[21] Also in June, Joshua Dallas announced that he would not be reprising the role of Fandral.[77] Dallas had initially intended to return,[78] but had to bow out due to his commitment on the television show, Once Upon a Time,[77] and Zachary Levi was cast in his place.[35] Levi was originally up for the role in the first film but scheduling conflicts with Chuck forced him to drop out.[36]

In July 2012, Mikkelsen stated he would not be appearing in the sequel due to prior commitments, "That's not happening unfortunately. I had a meeting with [the filmmakers], but it was a bit too late and then Hannibal came in...It's just not happening".[79] At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that the film would be titled Thor: The Dark World.[80] At the end of the month, residents near Bourne Wood in Surrey, England were notified that a film going by the working title, Thursday Mourning would be filming in the area.[81][82]

In August of that year, Christopher Eccleston entered final negotiations to play Malekith the Accursed,[25] and the film was scheduled to shoot in Iceland, where Taylor shot parts of Game of Thrones.[83] By August 22, Kat Dennings was hired to reprise her role as Darcy Lewis and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was cast as Algrim.[28][32] At the end of the month, film crews for Thursday Mourning began set construction at Stonehenge near Amesbury, England.[84]

Filming[edit]

Film set for Thor: The Dark World at Bourne Wood, Surrey, England.

Principal photography began on September 10, 2012 in Bourne Wood, Surrey, England.[85] A few weeks later, Clive Russell was cast as Tyr, and Richard Brake was cast as an Einherjar captain.[54] At the end of the month, Jaimie Alexander was injured on the London film set, after she slipped while walking in the rain.[86] On October 12, 2012, production moved to Iceland with filming taking place in Dómadalur, Skógafoss, Fjaðrárgljúfur and Skeiðarársandur. Iceland Review described the shoot as being among the most extensive film projects to have ever taken place in Iceland.[87] Three days later, Disney announced that the film would be released in 3D.[88] In late October, filming commenced at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London.[89] Filming also took place at Shepperton Studios in Surrey between October and December 2012. Other filming locations included Wembley, Borough Market, Hayes and Stonehenge.[13] Alexander tweeted that principal photography wrapped on December 14, 2012.[90]

Kramer Morgenthau, who worked with Taylor on Game of Thrones, was brought in as the director of photography. Morgenthau said, "We wanted a grittier, boots-on-the-ground feeling, inspired by what Alan and I had done on Game of Thrones. We wanted the realms to feel grounded, like a real place, while at the same time respecting the magical 'planet of the Gods' feeling and theme." Thor: The Dark World was Morgenthau's first time shooting a feature film digitally. For the film, Morgenthau chose the Arri Alexa Plus, although he tested with the Sony F65 but found the Alexa to be more pleasing. In addition to the Alexa, Red Epic and Canon EOS 5D Mark II cameras were used for second unit filming. With the Alexa, Morgenthau used Panavision anamorphic lenses. Morgenthau said, "The lenses brought some of the magic and mystery of photochemical back to digital, that big-movie look." Morgenthau also stated that Thor: The Dark World was easily the most technically complex project that he has worked but said, "It's all the same concept and the same principles as in a smaller film. You just scale it up. You do a lot more prep. We had three months of prep and loads of time to pre-rig stages. Part of it is having a really good crew—it's definitely not a one-man show."[91]

Post-production[edit]

In July 2013, Dennings told reporters that the film was about to head into reshoots.[92] In August, Taylor said he shot extra scenes with Hiddleston and was about to shoot more with Hopkins. Taylor explained that it was all a part of the "Marvel process" saying, "We're doing full scenes, scenes that were not in the movie before. We're adding scenes, creating scenes, writing scenes for the first time. The one [involving Loki] was a fun connective scene... We realised how well Loki was working in the movie, and we wanted to do more with him. So it was that kind of thing, it was like, 'Oh, we could do this, we could jam this in here' because he's such a wonderful guy to watch do his stuff."[93] Also in August, IMAX Corporation and Marvel Entertainment announced that the film would be digitally re-mastered into the IMAX 3D format and released into IMAX 3D theatres internationally beginning October 30, 2013.[94]

Taylor said Marvel's The Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon rewrote several scenes in the film explaining, "Joss came in to save our lives a couple of times. We had a major scene that was not working on the page at all in London, and he basically got airlifted in, like a SWAT team or something. He came down, rewrote the scene, and before he got back to his plane I sort of grabbed him and said, 'And this scene and this scene?' And he rewrote two other scenes that I thought had problems."[95] In October 2013, Tony Curran tweeted that he would be portraying Odin's father, Bor, in a flashback sequence.[52][53] In November 2013, Feige stated that the film was intended to be the conclusion of the "Loki trilogy", which examined the relationship of Thor and Loki throughout Thor, The Avengers and this film.[96] The film's mid-credits scene was directed by James Gunn, the director of Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy.[47]

Photo of the Lofoten islands off the coast of Norway, taken in July 2008.
The same islands used in the film with CG Asgardian structures added by Double Negative.

The film's visual effects were completed by seven special effects studios, including Double Negative and Luma Pictures.[97] Blur Studio was the lead studio behind the film's prologue sequence taking place 5,000 years before the start of the film, on the Dark Elves homeworld of Svartalfheim. The sequence consisted mostly of computer graphics with live-action shots interwoven throughout. The use of CG allowed for greater freedom of movement by the characters as the live-action costumes were too constrictive.[98]

Taylor wanted Asgard in this film to have a more natural look than its predecessor. To achieve this, crews filmed the coast of Norway with an Arri Alexa camera for three days in a helicopter, capturing six hours of footage. Double Negative then embedded their CG rendering of Asgard on shots of the natural landscape. Double Negative visual effects supervisor Alex Wuttke said, "The benefit of that is that you have some real world terrain to work with – so you have buildings that have to convey natural features. Then from there we went in there populating the terrain with different buildings."[98] For scenes taking place on Svartalfheim, production filmed in Iceland with Double Negative adding ruins, mountains, Dark Elf ships, and skies.[98]

For the shot of the levitating truck, which was used in the film to demonstrate the strange phenomena brought on by the coming of the alignment of the worlds, filmmakers attached a cement truck to a large hydraulic rig, which could be programmed to change speed and movement.[98] In order to create Algrim's transformation into Kurse, Double Negative morphed live action performances of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as both Algrim and Kurse. Double Negative then added in smoke and lava-like effects.[98]

The film's climatic battle sequence takes place through the nine worlds by the use of portals. Visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison said, "We ended up calling this 'time toffee', so as you punch through from one realm to another it's almost like cling film or a slightly gelatinous membrane you have to pass through. It bends a little bit then rips and spits the person out. The other thing we wanted to do was to make sure it was quite fast from an editorial point of view. In the fight scenes there are times when Thor and Malekith are portaling all over the place, quite frankly. We made sure we always kept up the momentum and never stopped the fight. It was a way of making sure the audience weren't conscious there was an effect going on."[98]

Music[edit]

In August 2012, Patrick Doyle said that he had discussions with the director about potentially returning to score the film.[99] By April 2013, Carter Burwell had been hired to compose the score,[100] but by the following month he left the film over creative differences.[101] In June 2013, Marvel hired Brian Tyler, who scored Iron Man 3, to replace Burwell.[102] Tyler said the previous film had an "attitude and [was] grounded in limitations" whereas the Thor film allowed for "all-out regal themes that could be as epic as I could make them." The composer described The Dark World as "science fiction meeting classic medieval war", leading to a score that drew from works of both genres such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.[103] Azam Ali is a featured vocalist on the score.[104] The soundtrack was released digitally on October 28, 2013.[105]

Release[edit]

The world premiere of Thor: The Dark World took place on October 22, 2013 at the Odeon Leicester Square in London.[106][107] The film was released theatrically in the UK eight days later, on October 30.[108] The film held its North American premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, and was released into U.S. theaters on November 7, 2013.[109]

Marketing[edit]

Hiddleston as Loki at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International.

In March 2013, Marvel announced the release of a two-issue comic book prelude by writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost and artist Scot Eaton in June 2013.[110] In April 2013, Marvel released the first trailer for Thor: The Dark World. Forbes said, "This trailer fits nicely into that larger marketing push for Marvel's brand. It puts all of the recognizable characters from the first film front and center, presents the action as a team event reminiscent of the Avengers, and once again Loki—who was quite popular with audiences—makes an appearance."[111] The Los Angeles Times said, "Evident throughout the trailer is director Alan Taylor's influence; the Game of Thrones director's hand can be seen in the battle sequences, and Asgard—a bright and shiny kingdom under Thor director Kenneth Branagh—seems grittier in the sequel."[112]

In July at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, Hiddleston introduced footage from the film to audiences in character as Loki.[113] Also in July, Gameloft announced that a mobile video game titled, Thor the Dark World: The Official Game, would be released in conjunction with the release of the film in November.[114]

In August 2013, Marvel released a second trailer for the film as part of YouTube's Geek Week.[115] Forbes said, "this 150-second trailer is basically just an extended version of last April's 106-second teaser" and that "this trailer fails to showcase what's new this time around... making audiences question if they really don't have much else to offer."[116] The Los Angeles Times said, that the trailer suggests "an ominous, epic scale for the sequel" and that "the collaboration between Thor and Loki promises to be especially interesting."[17] Later in the month, producer Kevin Feige and cast members Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins presented additional footage at Disney's D23 Expo.[117]

Also in August 2013, Disney announced plans to promote the film with an attraction at Disneyland.[118] The attraction called Thor: Treasures of Asgard, located next to the Stark Industries exhibit inside Innoventions in Tomorrowland, opened on November 1, 2013 and features displays of Asgardian relics and transports guests to Odin's throne room, where they are greeted by Thor.[119]

The eighth episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., titled "The Well", takes place in the aftermath of the events of Thor: The Dark World. It first aired on November 19, 2013.[120] Jaimie Alexander reprised her role as Sif in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Yes Men", which aired on March 11, 2014.[121]

Home media[edit]

Thor: The Dark World was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for digital download on February 4, 2014 and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on February 25, 2014. The physical media release includes deleted scenes, extended scenes, a gag reel, audio commentary by the cast and crew, and a Marvel One-Shot short film entitled All Hail the King,[122] featuring Ben Kingsley reprising his role as Trevor Slattery from Iron Man 3.[123]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Thor: The Dark World earned $206.4 million in North America and $438.4 million in other markets for a worldwide total of $644.8 million.[2] It surpassed its predecessor within 19 days of release.[124]

North America

Thor: The Dark World made an estimated $7.1 million in Thursday night showings, more than double the midnight gross of its predecessor.[125] On Friday, November 7, 2013, the film topped the box office with $31.9 million (including Thursday night earnings), which is 25% higher than the original film's opening-day gross.[126] Through Sunday, the film remained at the No. 1 spot with $85.7 million, which is a 30% increase over its predecessor's opening weekend.[127] This was the largest November opening for a film distributed by Disney, surpassing The Incredibles.[128] Thor: The Dark World topped the box office in North America during its first two weekends,[129] before being overtaken by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in its third weekend.[130]

Outside North America

On its midweek opening day of Wednesday, October 30, 2013, Thor: The Dark World earned $8.2 million from 33 territories,[131] including the UK and France, where it opened higher than its predecessor.[132] During its first three days, the film earned $45.2 million,[133] and by the end of the weekend, after expanding into three more territories, it totaled $109.4 million over five days, finishing in first place in all 36 countries.[133] Its largest openings were recorded in China ($21.0 million), the UK, Ireland and Malta ($13.8 million) and France and the Maghreb region ($9.94 million). It topped the box office outside North America on its first three weekends of release.[129] In total earnings, its largest markets are China ($55.3 million), Russia and the CIS ($35.4 million) and the UK, Ireland and Malta ($31.4 million).[134]

Critical response[edit]

Taylor at the world premiere of Thor: The Dark World in London.

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 65% approval rating with an average rating of 6.2/10 based on 221 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "It may not be the finest film to come from the Marvel Universe, but Thor: The Dark World still offers plenty of the humor and high-stakes action that fans have come to expect."[135] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 54 out of 100 based on 44 reviews.[136] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an "A-" average, based on a grading scale ranging from A+ to F.[127]

Ben Child of The Guardian said, "Thanks to Hiddleston and Hemsworth's impressive collective charisma, Thor: The Dark World is far from a franchise killer."[137] Justin Chang of Variety wrote, "This robust, impersonal visual-effects showpiece proves buoyant and unpretentious enough to offset its stew of otherwise derivative fantasy/action elements."[138] Alonso Duralde of The Wrap said, "Thor: The Dark World delivers the goods—action, otherworldly grandiosity, romance, humor—above and beyond its predecessor".[139] Simon Abrams, writing for RogerEbert.com said, "There's just enough tension and humor in Thor: The Dark World to make the film's otherwise listless proceedings worth watching, but only just."[140] Echoing other critics' sentiments, Frank Lovece of Film Journal International wrote, "Is it wrong that the best relationship in Thor: The Dark World is between the titular Norse-god superhero and his adoptive brother Loki? To take nothing away from Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, ... it's the complicated love-hate between Thor and the trickster god Loki that you can't turn your eyes from."[141]

Conversely, Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph said, "It feels entirely made by committee—the definition of house style, without a personal stamp in sight."[142] Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Although director Alan Taylor manages to get things going properly for the final battle in London, the long stretches before that on Asgard and the other branches of Yggdrasil are a drag, like filler episodes of Game of Thrones but without the narrative complexity, mythical heft or all-pervading sexiness."[143] Michael Phillips of the Los Angeles Times described Thor: The Dark World as having the "same old threats of galaxy annihilation spiced with fairly entertaining fish-out-of-water jokes".[144] Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times said, "the battle scenes are as lacking in heat and coherence as the central love story".[145]

Accolades[edit]

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences placed Thor: The Dark World on its shortlist of potential nominees for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects but ultimately was not nominated for the award.[146]

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2014 IGN Best of 2013 Best Comic Book Adaptation Movie Thor: The Dark World Nominated [147]
People's Choice Awards Favorite Year-End Movie Thor: The Dark World Nominated [148]
ABFF Hollywood Awards Artist of the Year Idris Elba (also for Pacific Rim and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) Nominated [149]
Empire Awards Best Supporting Actor Tom Hiddleston Nominated [150]
Saturn Awards Best Comic-To-Film Motion Picture Thor: The Dark World Nominated [151]
Best Supporting Actor Tom Hiddleston Nominated
Best Costume Wendy Partridge Nominated
Best Make-Up Karen Cohen / David White / Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou Nominated
Best Special / Visual Effects Jake Morrison / Paul Corbould / Mark Breakspear Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Shirtless Performance Chris Hemsworth Nominated [152]
Best Hero Chris Hemsworth Nominated
Favorite Character Tom Hiddleston Nominated
Golden Trailer Awards Best Action TV Spot Thor: The Dark World Nominated [153]
BET Awards Best Actor Idris Elba (also for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) Nominated [154]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Thor: The Dark World Nominated [155]
Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Chris Hemsworth Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Natalie Portman Nominated

Sequel[edit]

While promoting the release of Thor: The Dark World in October 2013, Hemsworth stated that he is contracted for another Thor film and two more Avengers films but would be happy to keep going, if people want more.[156] Also in October 2013, Feige stated that Thor would next be seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He added that certain elements at the end of The Dark World hint at a direction for a possible third film, adding, "We definitely have a story we'd like to tell." Additionally, Feige stated that, while Loki would not appear in Age of Ultron and most likely not before a third Thor film, the studio "certainly has ideas of where we would like that to go [with him, but] we have to see how this one does and then go from there."[157]

In January 2014, Marvel announced that Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost will write the screenplay for a third film, with Kevin Feige again producing.[158]

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