Marvel’s “Phase 2″ continues this November with Thor: The Dark World, which pits the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) against a new dangerous opponent – or, rather, an ancient foe in Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccelston). While the Thor sequel won’t stray too far into dark storytelling territory – this is still a Marvel Studio production after all – it’s clear from the trailers and images released so far that director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) is taking a grittier and more tangible approach to the Nine Realms than his predecessor, director Kenneth Branagh, did on the first Thor installment.

Taylor has described The Dark World as a fantastical blockbuster that’s “really a domestic drama,” with its emphasis on the complicated relationships between Thor and his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), step-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his human love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), among other Earthlings and Asgardians who populate the Thor universe. Obviously, it’s the damaged link between Thor and Loki that’s been the focus of the marketing so far – in part, thanks to the Loki character’s runaway popularity.

Empire has premiered a couple new magazine covers, featuring Hemsworth and Hiddleston in costume as their Marvel-verse alter egos. In addition, the site has unveiled several new images from The Dark World, which features new glances at Malekith and his Dark Elves, in addition to your favorite humans and “gods” from the previous Thor installment. Feel free to peruse through all that material at your leisure (in the gallery below):

[Click for Full-Sized Version]

The Dark World is undergoing reshoots so as to beef-up Loki’s screen time in the sequel. However, according to director Alan Taylor and executive producer Craig Kyle, there are much larger problems at hand for Thor and his companions than the trickster God – with Taylor in particular having told Empire that not all of the Asgardians will make it out of this movie alive, saying “It turns out immortality isn’t all that it was cracked up to be.”

Kyle went on to clarify the situation, as far as what’s been going on in the Nine Realms since the events of the first Thor installment took place (including, around the same time as Loki’s attack on Manhattan/Earth in The Avengers):

“When the Bifrost was broken at the end of the first film, Odin had to conjure a lot of dark energy and go through a lot of personal sacrifice to try and get his son back to Earth. And it was a one-shot deal. If Thor didn’t succeed, without the Tesseract he couldn’t have got back again. And in our film, finally the Bifrost has been rebuilt, but during that time, when the cops were largely cut off from the rest of the universe, you had miscreants that came in from outside the Nine Realms, pillaging and destroying and causing havoc. So that’s what our guys have been doing now – trying to put all these fires out across the Nine Realms.”

Do you like the look (read: costumes, sets, etc.) for Thor: The Dark World? Are you excited to see more of the cosmic realms located in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Thor: The Dark World opens in select IMAX 3D theaters on October 30th, 2013, before it begins a general release a week later on November 8th.

Source: Empire