BROTHERS IN ARMS
Hot on the jet-powered heels of Robert Downey Jr.’s electrifying outing as his limousine riding, high-tech armour flying, kiss stealing billionaire alter-ego Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, everyone’s favourite mythical Norse god has returned to take up the slack on the old avenging front – and rest assured he’s brought his hammer along for the ride.
As Marvel’s second film in phase two of their cinematic universe (phase one culminating with 2012’s inescapable ensemble adventure, The Avengers) Thor: The Dark World finds itself battling amidst some stiff competition in the form of the forthcoming, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the comic book world’s latest hot commodity, The Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel’s habit of interweaving storylines and characters between blockbusters to bolster mega releases such as The Avengers has proved extremely fruitful – ensuring an entourage of beloved fan-favourites can hold their own when it comes to all-star game time. Launching new representations of characters such as Hawkeye in Thor’s first earth based encounter, and allowing plot events and consequences to endure from one film to another has resulted in a rich and ambitious universe of heroes and villains that is currently unrivalled on the big-screen. Thor: The Dark World looks to continue on the same action-packed path, hitting the ground running following the destructive events of The Avengers and promising a plot that will undoubtedly influence the events of phase two’s remaining features – including 2015’s feverishly anticipated The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Bigger, blonder and possessing a vocabulary more eloquent than ever (it’s likely Thor doesn’t end sentences with LOL) Chris Hemsworth is back to drop the hammer upon any extra-terrestrial creatures who dare threaten the land of Asgard or his adopted home of earth – but this time he’s going to need some help to even the intergalactic odds. After orchestrating the near total annihilation of Manhattan and forcing The Avengers to assemble, Tom Hiddleston’s meddlesome Loki – Thor’s somewhat punier (as exhibited by The Hulk) but nevertheless ingenious adopted brother – has spent his days rotting and most likely plotting behind a set of impenetrable prison bars. Now that the cunning nemesis of Earth’s heroes has gotten the “mewling quim” monologues, big brother envy and daddy issues out of his system, his divine skill-set in magic and mischief will most likely come in handy – fighting the forces of darkness’ fire with some equally roguish materials.
Confronted by a deadly ancient race of dark elves led by the intimidatingly named supervillain, Malekith the Accursed, Thor must begrudgingly agree to overlook their sibling rivalry and release Loki from the depths of Asgard. Director Alan Taylor (renowned for his work on TV’s astounding Game of Thrones) has promised Loki will adopt a much more prominent role throughout the narrative than initially believed; uncovering not only the old wounds of battle, but the wounds of his and Thor’s fractured origins together. In the same manner as Game of Thrones, Taylor’s picture will take the concept of a fantastical fictional world and imbue it with the real–life issues and everyday dramas of friendship, family life and love – both romantic and brotherly. Our heroes may well be gods but ultimately the emotional and physical sacrifices they must face are distinctly human in nature – providing perhaps their greatest test yet.
Billed as the ‘darkness’ which predates the universe itself (quite the accolade) Malekith and his army threaten to tear asunder the very fabric of time and reality itself, plunging earth and the nine realms into an eternal black hole. The primeval overlord’s sinister motivation is that of revenge but his sudden devastating appearance remains a mystery; the little that is understood of him and his followers ultimately proving his greatest strength.
Fortunately, Thor will not carry the universe’s burden alone as numerous familiar characters return. Interplanetary love-interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) Anthony Hopkins’ Elder God Odin, and Asgardian gatekeeper Heimdall (Idris Elba) will all eventually come face to face the evil which masses beyond the gates of the realm. The God of Thunder’s second sole cinematic march into the perils of battle will undoubtedly set hearts beating, pulses racing, and heartstrings playing a folk song fit for the lofty halls of Asgard. Many questions will be raised before the Avengers once again unite but only one shall prove vital for Thor; can he truly trust Loki?
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Before the next Avengers flick and following Thor and Cap’s deeply personal battles with the demons of their past, Guardians of The Galaxy will be unleashed upon cinemagoers. It is still unknown how this new rough and ready hero collective will alter the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron but early signs suggest that writer/director James Gunn will provide the darker, harder-hitting franchise that many detractors have longed for from Marvel studios. Starring Chris Pratt as your sweet-talking hero Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as ‘the deadliest woman in the universe’ Gamora and Doctor Who favourite Karen Gillan as the ruthless space pirate, Nebula, The Guardians’ 2014 launch will most likely kick phase two into overdrive and provide the perfect prelude to The Avengers summer spectacular.