Four of the upcoming five Marvel Studios productions with confirmed release dates are sequels to established properties and of them, Thor: The Dark World may have the most complicated story to tell. Due to its otherworldly origins, the Thor comic has its own rich continuity and large array of characters based on Norse mythology to draw from, and from the sounds of it, director Alan Taylor is attempting to explore much of it in his first big budget feature film.
Even if we ignore rumors about a Dr. Strange appearance in Thor 2, the film will attempt to introduce other realms and new villains into the cinematic universe. The latest news about the sequel has UK actors Richard Brake and Clive Russell joining Thor: The Dark World as Asgardian characters who may help the titular hero against his newfound foes.
Deadline has the scoop that Brake and Russell will play an Asgardian soldier and Tyr, respectively. Brake (pictured below) will play a captain in Asgard's elite Einherjar (an army of dead warriors in the mythology), who in the comics team with Thor on several occasions, most notably with the U.S. military to defend Earth against an assault by Surtur and his fire demons (keep this in mind). This fact harkens back to early casting calls we covered which indicated the production was looking for actors and stunt people who are comfortable or trained in using fire to play "warriors" which hint at fire demons playing a part in the film.
Knowing that Christopher Eccleston is playing Malekith the Accursed, and from casting reports for extras, it's plausible that Surtur and his Fire Giants from the realm of Muspelheim will play an important role in The Dark World, or at the very least, will be introduced. It's Surtur who in the comics works with Malekith and Loki and their shady goals may be a key story thread for the followup. More on this in a moment.
Russell on the other hand, who played Captain Tanner in both of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films and is joining season 3 of Game of Thrones, has been cast as Tyr, the ill-tempered older brother of Thor. Tyr and Balder, who like Thor are biological children of Odin, weren't included nor name-dropped in the first Thor but that can be explained away depending on which parts of Marvel Comics history are adopted in The Dark World.
Tyr is Asgard's bloodthirsty God of War and at times has opposed both Odin and Thor - mostly due to his desire for battle - but at other times due to jealousy over Thor's relationship with Sif and his title of being Asgard's greatest warrior. Where Thor wields the mighty hammer Mjolnir, Tyr uses a sword in his one able hand but at one time had in his possession (through questionable means) the Mace of the Myth-Wars, a weapon comparable in power to Thor's, and one that would certainly allow Tyr to stand out in the film's large-scale skirmishes.
Tyr has defended Asgard from otherworldly foes on several occasions but has also worked against it in teaming with Loki. We'll have to wait and see on which side of the line Tyr makes his mark, but of note is that he also teamed with The Avengers and the Einherjar in defending Earth from Surtur and the fire demons.
Knowing each of these characters' histories, if Thor: The Dark World is going to go as deep into the nine realms as we think, then we can start to piece together a theory of where these characters will find themselves in the next movie(s). Set photos from the UK production already reveal Svartalfheim, home of the Dark Elves and Algrim the Strong (ruled by Malekith), where a major battle will take place.
Asgard, Earth and two additional realms for the Dark Elves and Fire Giants are a lot of ground to cover in one film so another workable theory is that Thor: The Dark World could setup another Thor sequel where he would battle Surtur, arguably one of the most menacing of Thor's villains. If we want to get really deep into wild speculation, we can take Feige's recent quotes about Thanos and Phase Three as a sign that Thanos won't be the primary villain of The Avengers 2 and instead, like its predecessor, Thor 2 could be serving up another villain for The Avengers to protect earth against - something like Surtur and the Fire Giants for example.
Just like The Avengers where Thanos hid in the background, he could be doing the same in its sequel, although Surtur doesn't at all fit Whedon's approach to The Avengers 2 (going smaller and more personal). Thanos, Surtur, Malekith and the Guardians fo the Galaxy are however, all connected by the mystical artifacts hidden away in Odin's Vault and this is yet another reason why Thor: The Dark World is an important and challenging project in telling its own complex story while also potentially serving as a launchpad for multiple other films. There's a reason it's positioned before Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers 2. Thoughts?
For more on the story of Thor 2, join our discussion on the other realms and Surtur.
- Clive Russell appeared in one episode of Drew Pearce's No Heroics, the same Drew Pearce who was tasked with writing Runaways for Marvel before helping write Iron Man 3 with Shane Black.
- Richard Brake played a role alongside Thor: The Dark World co-star Ray Stevenson in The Outpost.
The Thor sequel is being directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) and stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Christopher Eccleston.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015.
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Tyr art by Mico Suayan & Billy Tan (Thor #609)