As the individual Marvel heroes undergo changes from their first outings to sequels, few seem as primed for a change as Thor: The Dark World. Where the first film was a lighthearted fantasy with elements of Shakespeare and Norse mythology, The Dark World is going headlong into the territory of Viking warfare.
It’s not surprising that with all-out war in Asgard, a tenuous relationship with Thor and Loki, and a seemingly endless army of Dark Elves, the studio is able to fill the most recent Dark World trailer with plenty of action and charged dialogue.
We’re taking a closer look at what’s been shown, alluded to, foreshadowed, or hinted at in the trailer. And buried in some of those quick-cuts were some truly suspicious implications.
Potential spoilers for all readers from here on out (if our analysis is correct). You have been warned.
The previous trailer for Thor: The Dark World revealed that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was wasting away within an Asgardian prison cell (read our analysis of that trailer here), but it’s worth noting that the second trailer reveals that he’s not alone in his confinement.
Considering the breadth of fiction surrounding Thor in the comic books, we’d normally wager that an easter egg or two could be spotted in these cells when the finish film is released.
But the fact that both trailers have appeared to show Thor (Chris Hemsworth) doing battle with several enemies in these same rooms, there’s a chance those background characters could take center stage in a jailbreak (all part of Malekith’s plan?).
Although the lush, green landscapes seen in the trailer belie the title of ‘The Dark World,’ this is the titular realm of the Dark Elves also known as Svartalfheim.
If the scenery looks pulled directly out of a fantasy movie, it should: it’s the same Icelandic backdrop that director Alan Taylor used to represent the frozen, deserted wilderness above ‘The Wall’ during his time at the helm of Game of Thrones.
The casual moviegoer might expect a different realm to be home to such villainous beings as the film’s Dark Elves, but the views alone promise a more grounded, natural adventure.
Since both trailers have now opened with the Dark Elves’ attack on London, Thor making his unique brand of entrance here was implied to be taking place near the beginning of the film, triggering his rescue of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and travel to Asgard.
However, a closer look at the arm featured in the same shot shows the telltale layering of armor worn by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) himself. Unless Thor will be engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the central villain multiple times, it seems this fight – and the attack that precedes it – is positioned near the climax of the film.
Besides potentially ruining the surprise, this fact forces viewers to re-examine the implied sequence of events shown in the trailers. If it isn’t an attack that brings Thor back to Earth, what then?
How could we not make specific mention of the god of Thunder’s new-found appreciation for guyliner? All jokes concerning our hero’s makeup aside, this shot of Thor transporting Jane back to Asgard also provides a glimpse at the new effects of cross-realm travel.
In the previous film, transportation via the Bifrost left a large circle of Nordic runes embedded in the ground; here, the audience can actually watch as the runes are burned into the pavement one by one. It’s a nice addition from a purely visual standpoint, but it could also be tied to the form of travel itself.
As fans already know, the Bifrost was destroyed at the climax of Thor (2011), so perhaps this new effect is a result of his new means of travel.
We made a note of the shot depicting Loki, Thor and Jane making their way across a frozen landscape. What this means in regards to the shaky alliance between the Asgardian brothers is still unknown, but the second trailer highlights three new facts: first, that Thor isn’t quite ready to let Loki off his leash (notice the handcuffs); second, that Loki is leading them to Malekith’s stronghold (the same ship which eventually attacks London); and lastly, that Jane is not well.
We had previously assumed she was simply not a match for the stamina of the gods accompanying her, but in this shot, she looks to be in serious peril. It’s hard to say what ails her – especially since she seems fine in the shots that look to precede and follow these ones – but why Thor would be taking her along on his quest to find Malekith is the most important question.
If Loki is the “one” person who knows where to find the Dark Elves’ stronghold, could the mysterious ‘procedure’ Jane undergoes in the first trailer be motivating him? Could only Malekith hold the cure? We’ll have to wait and see.
Ready to welcome the Asgardian party outside of the tower/ship (which later seems to crash into the heart of Asgard) is a troop of Dark Elves, all wearing the masks and armor of their race. But that star emblazoned on the chest of this Dark Elf is a giveaway: this is Malekith, not yet ready to show off his singed face.
Interestingly, the same promotional image which shows Malekith’s armor so clearly shows no sign of the burns which cover half of his face. The question then, is whether Malekith is capable of hiding his wounds (why bother?), or if the ship crashing into Asgard, and his ensuing attack actually takes place before the other scenes.
That would certainly explain the dark, dank restraints he was first shown in. Whatever the case, this desert setting seem to be the backdrop of some major plot points to follow.
We deduced from the previous trailer that Frigga (Rene Russo) would be fighting Malekith, and what spoiled plot points that might lead to. This trailer confirms our conclusions, and shows that while Frigga’s role in the first film may have been a small one, she is just as skilled as her family members.
However this scene plays out, Malekith looks to be free from burns at this point, lending credence to the notion that this attack on Asgard takes place before Thor seeking him out with Jane in tow, but after Jane is brought to Asgard for her own protection (whoops)!.
If Frigga is put into harm’s way, it could affect Loki more than audiences might expect. He still sought out his adoptive mother’s approval in the first film, so Thor and he may have common ground to stand on after all.
This shot stands out to us for several reasons: Jane is indeed suspended in mid-air by (a now-burned) Malekith, as a defeated Thor looks on. The first trailer showed this scene as a potentially massive sacrifice, but knowing what we do about Jane’s possible illness/possession, and the fact that Thor sought Malekith, could this be something different?
It’s also worth noting that Loki is simply observing the scene – minus his manacles – despite fighting a Dark Elf himself. Could he be in league with Malekith, or preparing to redeem himself (he does “like” Jane, after all).
This shot also reveals what looks to be the first shot of Algrim the Strong/Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a Dark Elf and servant of Malekith who fought Thor in the comics. Seeing Thor unable to save Jane leads us to believe that may have already taken place.
One of the more confusing shots from the trailer depicts the same desert landscape and stationary ship from the prior scenes, only this time punctuated by what appears to be a magical explosion. The only time in recent memory we’ve seen anything resembling this shockwave was when Thor’s hammer Mjolnir met Captain America’s shield in The Avengers, but we know Vibranium is an Earthly metal.
So how do we explain the explosion? Could it be a result (or the climax) of Thor’s fight with Algrim the Strong? In the comics, Malekith fired upon both once they began fighting, so it’s possible that same treachery could be at work here – notice the two figures silhouetted against the explosion?
The nature of this special effects showpiece largely depends on the events of the last scene we discussed, so we’ll have to wait for more hints to come to a conclusion.
It may not be as pivotal to the plot as some other moments in the trailer, but Thor’s increased control over his trusty hammer Mjolnir is worth pointing out.
While the dull thudding of the hammer punching through numerous walls aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier worked in The Avengers, it seems the filmmakers have come up with a less damaging solution.
Instead of taking the shortest path through London to Thor’s outstretched hand, Mjolnir now weaves its way down city streets and around corners. We can’t disagree that it’s worth an explanation, since shattering homes and families in the name of time seems a bit callous on Thor’s part.
As one of the funnier end scenes to a Marvel trailer we can recall, Thor’s quick dispatching of a colossal stone warrior is likely to get a laugh from even non-comic book enthusiasts. But to those who pride themselves on Thor lore, the enemy isn’t just some random golem.
That would be one of the ‘Stone Men from Saturn,’ the strange rock monsters that Thor fought in his first appearance in print, in “Journey into Mystery” #83. While there may be only a single enemy here, his victory makes his strength as evident on film as it was in the comic book pages.
The inclusion of such an easter egg in the film’s trailer certainly raises our hopes for those in the rest of the movie, but this is a strong start regardless.
Those are the brief clips and questions from the newest trailer that most stood out to us, even if their answers leave us scratching our heads. What do you think of our explanations?
Are they right on the money, or will you be disappointed if they prove to be true? Be sure to share your own insights or theories in the comments, and check out our previous trailer analysis if you haven’t already.
Thor: The Dark World hits theaters on November 8, 2013.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.