The first “Thor” movie was something of a risk for Marvel. Wisecracking Robert Downey Jr. in a (relatively) grounded real world setting was one thing, but a Viking god from space, played by a complete unknown and directed by a man best known for Shakespeare adaptations was quite another. But the 2011 film, while flawed in many ways, proved surprisingly entertaining and teed up both its title character and his villainous brother Loki for a return appearance in the team-up movie “The Avengers,” which turned out to be an absolute megahit. As such, the studio must be feeling on surer ground with “Thor: The Dark World.” It’ll undoubtedly be a big hit, but it’s a shame that the movie isn’t much of an improvement on its predecessor. While it rights some of the first film’s problems, it has more than a few of its own, leading to an effort that, while entertaining, is probably the most deeply flawed Marvel movie since “Iron Man 2.”
After a very “Lord of the Rings“-esque prologue introducing villain Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and his Dark Elves, ancient creatures who are bent on returning the universe to darkness using something called the Aether during the Convergence, a once-every-ten-millennia alignment of the nine realms, the action picks up almost immediately after “The Avengers.” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to Asgard in chains, and he’s left to languish for the rest of his life in a dungeon.