A large part of the charm of the original Thor was its faithfulness to the incredibly out-there, just-slightly goofy universe of the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby-created comic books. That fidelity meant the film made room for much of the comics’ wonderful supporting cast – something that may have made Thor a little overstuffed, but increased its fun and vitality in the same equation.

It looks as if the same track is being taken by the upcoming sequel, Thor: The Dark World. Packed to the rafters with new and returning characters straight from the comics, moviegoers may end up wanting a primer before going into the viewing experience. Fortunately for them, Disney has recently released a handy list of characters – including their current statuses – to get you up to speed.

Stitch Kingdom has shared an official list of short biographies of Thor: The Dark World’s principal characters – along with a few fan-favorite supporting roles. The full descriptions are thus:

Thor (Chris Hemsworth)

Thor Odinson is the Prince and future King of Asgard, an advanced alien civilization. Once arrogant and impulsive, Thor was banished to Earth by his father, Odin. The experience taught him humility, but put him into conflict with his adopted brother Loki. After saving the Earth from Loki’s schemes alongside the Avengers, Thor now faces a new enemy — one that threatens to destroy everything he cares for.

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman)

Jane Foster is an astrophysicist who met Thor when he was exiled to Earth by his father. The two had an intense attraction in the short time they were together, and through Jane, Thor learned the value of humility and the heroic nature of humanity. After being separated since Thor’s first visit to Earth, Jane has moved on with her life… but now finds herself pulled into Thor’s world once again by an ancient evil.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

Loki Laufeyson is the adopted brother of Thor, raised alongside him from birth by Odin. Upon learning his true lineage, Loki sought to conquer both Asgard and Earth but was stopped by Thor and the Avengers. Still arrogant and unrepentant, Loki sits in the dungeons of Asgard, with only his mother Frigga seeing any hope for him. But when an ancient enemy seeks the destruction of Asgard, Loki finds his loyalties tested.

Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård)

Dr. Erik Selvig is a fellow astrophysicist and mentor to Jane Foster and was with her when Thor arrived on Earth. Selvig’s mind was possessed by Loki, who forced him to aid in his invasion of Earth. Loki’s mind control was lifted after Thor and the Avengers defeated him, but Selvig’s mental state has deteriorated due to Loki’s influence. Selvig now finds himself at the center of cosmic events once again as two worlds collide.

Heimdall (Idris Elba)

Heimdall is the sentinel of Asgard with the ability to see and hear events galaxies away. He stands at his post in Asgard’s Observatory, watching over the cosmos and protecting Asgard from any and all intruders. As one of Odin’s most trusted warriors, Heimdall is beyond reproach…but now Asgard faces an enemy that even Heimdall cannot see.

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston)

Malekith is the cruel leader of the Dark Elves, a race of beings said to be older than the universe itself. Born into darkness, Malekith led his people in a war against the Asgardians, but they were thought to have been destroyed thousands of years ago. Malekith survived, however, and now seeks to transform our universe, plunging it back into eternal darkness.

Algrim/Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)

Algrim/Kurse is Malekith’s trusted and loyal lieutenant. He fought at Malekith’s side during the initial war with Asgard thousands of years ago, but now their time is running out. Algrim is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice and is transformed into the monstrous Kurse. With a new and terrifying power, Kurse seeks to destroy Thor and Asgard in preparation for Malekith’s arrival.

Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings)

Darcy Lewis is Jane Foster’s intern, a quirky but quick-thinking poli-sci major who found herself in the middle of Earth’s first contact with an alien civilization. And while she doesn’t always understand everything that’s happening around her, she doesn’t hesitate to speak up about it. When Jane discovers an ancient cosmological event affecting the Earth, it’s Darcy who has to pick up the slack when Jane disappears.

Volstagg (Ray Stevenson)

Volstagg makes up one third of the Warriors Three, Asgard’s greatest and most loyal warriors. Large and imposing, Volstagg’s skill with an axe is matched only by his appetite. With Fandral and Hogun, Volstagg has fought alongside Thor on many adventures across the cosmos. And while the stories of his exploits are often elaborated, he’s a hero to the Asgardian people.

Fandral (Zachary Levi)

Fandral is Asgard’s finest swordsman, which serves him well as a member of the Warriors Three. Alongside Volstagg and Hogun, Fandral fights to protect Asgard from any and all foes. When not using his sword to smite his enemies, Fandral uses his charm and good looks to woo the ladies.

Hogun (Tadanobu Asano)

Hogun, often known as Hogun The Grim, is the deadliest of the Warriors Three. With both spiked mace and blade, Hogun defends Asgard as well as his own home, the peaceful planet of Vanaheim. Though he rarely speaks, his loyalty to Thor is legendary… as is his disapproval of Fandral and Volstagg’s frivolous natures.

Sif (Jaimie Alexander)

Sif is one of Asgard’s most formidable warriors. Skilled and fearless, she’s a trusted and faithful ally to Thor. During his banishment, Sif saw Loki’s treachery and risked all to return Thor to Asgard…but on Earth, she saw that she had lost Thor’s heart to another—the human Jane Foster. Now at the end of a long campaign to free the Nine Realms from strife, Sif seeks to rekindle her relationship with Thor.

Frigga (Rene Russo)

Frigga is wife of Odin and mother of Thor and Loki. The glue that holds the royal family together, Frigga knew that there was more to Odin’s banishment of Thor than met the eye, just as she now sees that there’s more within the villainous Loki than the others see. But when Asgard is attacked, Frigga will fight to defend those that she loves at any cost.

Odin (Anthony Hopkins)

Odin is King of Asgard, Protector of the Nine Realms, and father to Thor and Loki. Odin’s long reign is coming to an end, however, and while disappointed with Thor’s arrogance at first, he now sees that Thor is ready for the throne. But when an ancient enemy returns, Odin questions Thor’s allegiances…for if Thor is to be king, he must choose duty over his heart’s desires.

In truth, this list doesn’t reveal much that hasn’t already been shared via the Thor: The Dark World trailer or nuggets of official information that have slipped out in previous months. Most interesting are the hints at Malekith and the Dark Elves’ motivations for coming out of the shadows to once again wage war on Asgard. Why exactly is “time running out” for the race of Svartalfheim?

Poor Dr. Selvig seems to have a more interesting character arc building for him than simply reprising his role as a convenient Nordic physicist. We may see him taking a stab at redemption after his (admittedly brainwashed) role in the Battle of New York in The Avengers.

Also of note is the tone of Odin’s character entry, which seems to imply that the character may soon step away from the Asgardian kingship. This would make sense if Thor: The Dark World is drawing heavily from the Thor tales of Walt Simonson, which initially introduced Malekith and saw the departure of Odin from his throne during wartime. Could this also mean the departure of Anthony Hopkins from the franchise?

At the very least, Disney/Marvel’s release of this comprehensive list serves as a handy way for fans to reacquaint themselves with the franchise before the movie’s release. Doubtless there are plenty of surprises left up Thor: The Dark World’s figurative sleeves.

Thor: The Dark World will strike theaters on November 8th, 2013.

Source: Stitch Kingdom