Iron Man 3 opens in several international markets this Friday before its U.S. bow next week, thus marking the official beginning of Phase 2 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Early buzz is the Shane Black-directed superhero movie fulfills on Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige’s promise that the comic book studio is going to step up its game post-Avengers – beginning with an action-packed Tony Stark adventure that feels like the best Tom Clancy thriller never made – and that raises the bar for director Alan Taylor’s Game of Thrones-esque portrayal of the Nine Realms in this fall’s Thor: The Dark World.

The first Dark World trailer premieres online tomorrow, ahead of being attached to the Iron Man threequel beginning this week. Today, we have the first official images from Chris Hemsworth’s third screen appearance as the God of Thunder, in additional to a few morsels of information about the film’s subplots (much of which will be teased in the Dark World trailer.

Dark World – written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Christopher Yost (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes TV series), off a screen story by the late Don Payne (Thor) – picks up not too long after the events in The Avengers, as Thor brings the now-defeated Loki (Tom Hiddleston) back to Asgard, only to encounter a new threat: the vengeful Dark Elf leader Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccelston)

Check out the first images from Thor: The Dark World, via USA Today:


As revealed by the image above – and the previous description of Dark World trailer footage – the return of Malekith inspires Thor to rekindle his romantic flames with the human scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), before transporting her to Asgard for safe keeping. However, Taylor and his screenwriters aren’t going to ignore that little tidbit about how Thor managed to find his way back to Earth in The Avengers – without ever letting Jane know, that is.

“Thor still has lot of explaining to do, and a lot of making up,” says Hemsworth. “Even demigods end up in the doghouse, mate. So none of us is safe.”

“So while Thor was a fish out of water on Earth in the first two films (Thor and The Avengers), this time Jane is very much a fish out of water in Asgard,” says Feige.

I think I speak for a number of fans when I say the romance and “fish out of water” subplots in the first movie weighed down the rest of the proceedings, so it’s not altogether encouraging to hear Feige talk about Dark World having a “[familiar] love triangle where the parents think your girlfriend is wrong for you.” One would expect, nay hope, the sequel will instead prioritize showing more of the Marvel cosmic realm; not to mention, the portrayal of a fantasy universe caught up in an all-too-familiar struggle for power and control.

Taylor has proven more successful at weaving romance into the wartime drama and political intrigue on Game of Thrones, so hopefully that “love triangle” – probably more like a square (or is it a pentagon?) that involves Thor, Jane, Thor’s parents and the friend-zoned Sif (Jaimie Alexander) – won’t feel superfluous to the rest of the story, which provides Loki with a chance to make amends with his ‘brother’ Thor (when Malekith proves too much for the God of Thunder to handle on his own).

“Needing Loki’s help turns everything on its head,” says Hemsworth. “And it allows us to explore the underlying complexities of their relationship. It really ends up being a kind of chess match.”

“Tom has built and shaped one of the best movie villains in years with many, many layers,” says Feige. “It will be very difficult for Loki to lose the villain status. He has that firmly in hand.”

The Shakespearean conflict between Thor, Loki and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) was, in my humble opinion, the most richly executed and satisfying element in the first Thor installment, and there’s opportunity for the sequel to twist the (figurative) knife even deeper into those characters’ gaping emotional wounds; again, Taylor’s Game of Thrones background should come in handy there.

So, what are your first impressions/thoughts about the plot machinations and character development that transpire in Thor: The Dark World so far?

[Update: Watch the first trailer for Thor: The Dark World here!]


Iron Man 3 opens in U.S. theaters on May 3rd, 2013, followed by Thor: The Dark World on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6th, 2015.

Source: USA Today