Phase 2 of the cinematic Marvel Universe will kick off May 3rd. It seems like only yesterday that AVENGERS came out, but here we are, on the precipice of the continuation of Marvel and Kevin Feige’s vision. The films are five-fold (in order of release): IRON MAN 3, THOR: THE DARK WORLD, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and AVENGERS 2, and we will get an interesting mix of new and familiar, as we continue to test how stable these franchises and characters are on their own, how much demand there still is for superhero fare (or these particular heroes on their own), and how much more genius Joss Whedon has stolen from the Gods.
While it’s like picking a favorite horror film, I got to thinking, how would I rank my anticipation level for these films? Which film am I most excited about? Which movie do I think will be the best? The worst? What do I hope to happen? Let’s be clear: I’m a massive nerd for these films, and aside from IRON MAN 2, I have loved all of Marvel’s Phase 1 films (though I still rather enjoyed IM2, I just didn’t LOVE it). I’m beyond excited for all of these films, but there are characters and concepts that I am far more pumped to see than others, as you’ll soon see.
Without further ado, here is my countdown for Marvel’s Phase 2:
5. THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Of all the Phase 1 films, I thought the original THOR was probably the riskiest, and most likely to fail miserably. But, because of Branagh’s involvement, Helmsworth’s hire (saw the star power from the moment STAR TREK began) and my crush on Natalie Portman, I was optimistic. And lo and behold, it, like CAPTAIN AMERICA, was a pleasant surprise, and hit about everything I wanted, and may have been my favorite of the recent crop after AVENGERS (the first IRON MAN may yet stand the best). Chris Hemsworth is a tad wooden, but so is Thor, and Kenneth Branagh rocked it. We got a good dose of Asgard, with a lot of Loki, Heimdall and Odin, all stuff I loved.
For the second jaunt in Asgard, Thor is set to take on the dark elves, and in particular, Malekith the Accursed. The casting of Christopher Eccleston as the big bad is a brilliant hire, for sure, but I can’t say I hold that much enthusiasm about the dark elves and Malekith himself. Thor is light on villains once you move past Loki, but I think we’re all a bit over the god of mischief at this point (even if Tom Hiddleston rules). It sounds like Thor will be forced to go to Loki for help this time, and that uneasy alliance is fresh and welcome news. Marvel also landed Mr. Eko himself, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, as another baddie, as Algrim the Strong (and Kurse). Adewale has all kinds of charisma and was another great move. Neither villain has a big name in comics or otherwise, and neither actor playing them is big outside of geek circles, but I think at least one of them is going to be the big breakout performer in the film.
The idea of Thor exploring the nine realms of Norse mythology, with Svartalfheim, is a tantalizing prospect, and promises an interesting expansion of lore and creatures and sets. But a love triangle between Sif, Jane and Thor just won’t make it very high on this list, even if the great GAME OF THRONES director Alan Taylor is on board to oversee things (again, fantastic decision).
I really just want a movie entirely in Asgard, with Norse mythology oozing from each shot, fire demons from Muspelheim aplenty and a merry trip to Nilfheim. My favorite THOR comics are the ones that tackle the fables and lore of Norse mythology, not any that feature Jane Foster. I realize Marvel is loathe to sever the ties of Earth and humanity from its movies (until GUARDIANS), but that very well may happen in THOR 3, when Thor needs to find himself, or bring Jane Foster back to life (just a haphazard guess) or something.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD opens November 8th, 2013. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ray Stevenson, Kat Dennings, Zachary Levi, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo, and Clive Russell.