Sometimes the movies surprise you. On Friday, I saw The Muppets Most Wanted and wished I had waited for the DVD. Sunday I watched Thor: The Dark World on DVD, and was sorry I hadn’t caught it on the big screen.
As “the Convergence” approaches, a once every 5000 year alignment of the nine realms of the universe, portals between the worlds start to open at random. Exploring one near London, Dr. Jane Foster, Thor’s mortal honey, is infected with the Aether, an ancient, indestructible weapon of evil that the gods of Asgard had hidden away. The Dark Elf, Malekith, hopes to use the Aether to plunge the universe into darkness when the worlds align.
At the critical moment, Thor and his half-brother, Loki, the usual suspect in all things nefarious, team up to save the world and avenge the death of Frigga, their mother. Loki’s trickery fools Malekith into withdrawing the Aether from Jane and saving her life. The movie has lots of explosions, and moments that echo both Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (though admittedly without the depth). The forbidden love of immortal Thor and mortal Jane also parallels Superman and Lois, but for me, the character of Loki made the movie.
As I wrote in an earlier post, Loki the Trickster, has fascinated me since I read a book of Norse mythology as a kid. Sometimes an ally and sometimes a nemesis of the gods, in the old stories, Loki was finally imprisoned under the earth for killing Baldr, the golden boy of Asgard, where he will remain until the final battle when this world will be destroyed.
The movie Loki is far more nuanced; he and Thor compliment each other. Thor is ready to charge ahead, swinging his hammer against an invincible foe, while Loki embodies consummate strategy.
Loki, rejected by the Father of the gods and always subordinate to Thor, though he is older and smarter, is more the existential Outsider than any other movie superhero. Peter Parker may pine for Mary Jane, in a malt shop kind of way, and Clark gets tongue-tied near Lois, but Loki portrays the adult experience of not fitting in.
If you know what that’s like (and if not, why are you writing and reading blogs), you’ll enjoy this portrayal of Loki. The next time you’re in the mood for heroes, aided by Natalie Portman, saving the world, with help from a professor who runs around naked at Stonehenge, grab some popcorn and consider renting Thor. It’s a fun ride.
You’re right about the Loki character. He’s the very best of all the characters in the superhero movie pantheon today. Loki’s presence in the movie is worth a lot. But I thought overall THE DARK WORLD was a mediocre action movie, nowhere near as good as the first THOR movie or the AVENGERS. Gaping plot issues, and what really bugged me and my teen daughter, the way Thor improbably rejects that Asgardian warrior chick in favor of Portman’s character, who in this movie is portrayed as the epitome of a weak female character (despite her supposed scientific credentials).
I re-watched The Avengers on Netflix yesterday, and because I can’t remember it clearly, will probably look at the first Thor movie again – but later. I’m a bit superheroed out at the moment. You’re right right about the plot holes. I cannot remember the name of the well known writer who was asked of the difference between life and fiction and said, “Fiction has to make sense.” Except, perhaps, in folklore and Marvel comics.
I don’t remember all the details of folklore Loki, but I do remember that as a shapeshifter, he was rather prolific – the father of the Fenris wolf, for one thing, a fearsome beast who would burst his chains on the last day and help destroy the gods. And he also, in the shape of a mare, gave birth to an eight legged stallion. Reminded me of the story of Tiresias, the Greek seer. One day he came upon a pair of snakes coupling and split them apart with his staff, thus incurring the wrath of Hera, queen of the gods, who changed him into a woman for seven years. The experience added to his wisdom, but had nasty consequences later when Zeus and Hera were arguing about which gender has more pleasure in bed. They called Tiresias to judge – a lose/lose proposition if there ever was one! Irritated by his answer, Zeus blinded Tiresias who spent the rest of his days as the archetypal blind seer that no one ever listened to. But I digress…
I mentioned your point about “Thor improbably rejecting the Asgardian warrior chick,” and my wife remembered hearing Loki call her “sister” at one point. I missed that completely, but if he did, that would explain it.
Your digressions are worth more than most people’s primary thoughts
Oh boy. Last weekend, I rented this movie for my husband – the old fashioned way, on disc – and wouldn’t you know it? The disc wouldn’t work! I was disappointed, but I’m über disappointed now that I’ve read your review.
We’ll have to give it another go this weekend. 🙂
Hope it works this time for you. Meanwhile, I just spotted adds for another Captain America movie, due out 4/14. I expect to venture out to the theater for that.