Phase Two of the Marvel initiative continues with Chris Hemsworth once again wielding the mighty hammer as Thor. As with all the Avengers flicks not starring Robert Downey Jr.., this is a fun time, but nothing more. Natalie Portman returns as the mortal earthling Jane Foster, as does Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis. Anthony Hopkins keeps us invested with his "An Evening with Shakespeare" vibe as our hammy narrator, King Odin of Asgard.
Oh, and Jane is annoyed that Thor didn't bother to drop by when he was saving New York from his stepbrother Loki. Speaking of, Loki is in lockdown (but not for long!) as Thor and his fellow Norse gods battle a band of Dark Elves obsessed with Dark Matter from the Dark World.
Here are five ways Thor's latest keeps the Marvel movies chugging along:
1. MVP: Loki! By the Gods, the plot ain't that memorable, but Tom Hiddleston more than makes for it anytime he's on screen as trickster Loki. Imprisoned for his crimes on Earth in Avengers, he's quick to point out that his kill count is far less than dear old stepdad Odin. Loki isn't imprisoned for long though as Thor needs him. (More importantly, the film needs him.) Loki's twisted will he/won't he betray everyone logic is still hilarious.
2. Portman in Game of Thrones Couture: Alan Taylor has helmed some of the best moments on television like the pilot of Mad Men and several episodes of Thrones. Asgard is like a goldeny version of Westeros where instead of Seven Kingdoms, Odin lords over the Nine Realms. Some clever world-shifting CGI moments makes for a cool climax. Along the way, Jane (Portman) looks stunning in her Asagardian attire.
3. New Baddies As Silly Ones Seen On Dr. Who: The plot of Dark World involves Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston) who needs Dark World goo called Aether to end the universe as we know it. (Marvel certainly loves their all-encompassing magical doomsday devices.) Malekith rules the Dark Elves whose appearance should be familiar for the former time traveler (Eccelston played the Doctor in 2005), but the plastic-looking armor and "pew pew pew" lasers make the sequel appear underfunded.
4. The Next Wonder Woman? As Sif, warrior princess Jaimie Alexander is still playing second hottie to Jane. Rumors are faster than a speeding a bullet on the Superman vs. Batman film. Will the Amazonian make an appearance? Maybe. Could Alexander be the next Princess Diana of Themyscira? The actress has been outspoken about going to the DC side to play the goddess, however, others are currently in talks to play the most famous super woman. (Like former Bond gal, Olga Kurylenko.) Still, Alexander already looks the part, no?
5. An Avenger Cameo, Extras Scenes: We would never spoil the surprises, but on top of the already mandatory two bonus scenes (first during the credits, second after them) a costumed pal makes an appearance of sorts. Hint: it's not Thor's smash pal, Hulk. Kudos to Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) and Stellan Skarsgård whose earthbound antics keep the tone light. In the case of Erik (Skarsgård) that means less clothes as the scientist streaks at Stonehenge.