For nearly a year, we’ve been speculating that Thor: The Dark World could feature multiple realms and more than one enemy faction vying for the destruction of Asgard. Lately, the majority of the Thor 2 villain conversations have centered around a face-off between the titular God of Thunder and Dark Elves led by the wrathful Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston). An official plot synopsis for Thor: The Dark World painted a clear picture of where Malekith and his army fit into the post-Avengers storyline – leading many fans to assume that the Dark Elves were the only game in town.

However, a new comment from Marvel Studios executive producer Craig Kyle confirms that the Dark Elves will not be the only enemy faction Asgard will face in Thor 2 – teasing another group of evildoers known as “The Marauders.”

The Marauders were previously captured in Dark World set-photos and video – though it was unclear, at the time, how they fit into the larger storyline (aside from Mjolnir fodder). Now, courtesy of an Empire [via CBM] interview with Kyle, we have a bit more insight into their Thor 2 role as well as confirmation of other key plot details.

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and the Dark Elves

According to the report, Thor: The Dark World will pick-up one year after The Avengers – and two years after the first Thor movie. At the sequel’s start, Thor – “now a full-time general” – and his forces are over-extended at war in The Nine Realms as a group of “rag-tag invaders known as The Marauders” thins and weakens the Asgardian army. Responding to the Marauder threat leaves Asgard vulnerable – allowing Malekith and the Dark Elves to mount a more effective assault on Thor’s home realm. Whether or not The Marauders are acting on their own orders or are manipulated by Malekith, Loki, Thanos, or some other unseen enemy isn’t known at this time. Though, it’s easy to imagine The Dark Elves using The Marauders as pawns in their larger plans to destroy Asgard.

Readers who have been following our coverage of Thor: The Dark World will remember we had speculated that Malekith might team with Surtur and the fire giants of Muspelheim in the attack on Asgard. Marvel has promised that there are plenty of Thor 2 surprises yet to be spoiled (along with a few that have been spoiled) but it’s looking more likely that, instead of a realm-specific army, The Marauders are a mix of viking-like humans as well as isolated members of other beastly races – some possibly from Hel (the Norse Underworld) and Vanaheim.

Whether or not prior casting reports that called for extras “skilled in playing with fire means that The Marauders could also include a few Muspelheims or just fire-breathing/twirling humans is speculation at this point. While prior evidence of The Maruaders came in the form of that live action on-set battling, it’s still possible that their respective scenes also include set pieces where Thor and his compatriots fight giant fiery CGI monsters as well. That said, it’s equally likely that Marvel is saving full-on appearances by Muspelheim and Hel for future sequels.

Kyle admits that Thor was the toughest sell in Phase One but, now that the character has been introduced in The Avengers, there’s a lot more room to explore fantastical story (and enemies) in Phase Two:

“Expectations are high. By bringing director Alan Taylor into the mix, with his expertise on The Sopranos, Mad Men and Game Of Thrones, we came up with a take that allows us to get more into the nooks and crannies of Asgard and its people. We spend more time on the ground with the commoners, as opposed to in the palace. It’s a very complicated blend [of genres: high science fiction, gritty fantasy, and realism]. Thor is, until Guardians of the Galaxy hits, by far our most wild, fringe Marvel piece. But that’s why it’s the Marvel Universe and not Marvel Earth!”

The Marauders should serve as a good way of putting Thor and his friends on the ground with the Asgardian army – as opposed to the first film where the story focused primarily on the God of Thunder, Sif, and the Warriors Three with little insight into how Loki’s actions were affecting the people of Asgard. Between The Dark Elves and The Marauders, along with the ever-scheming LokiThe Dark World should provide a better balance of captivating drama to accompany lightning strikes and Mjolnir face smashing.

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


Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

Source: Empire [via CBM]