UPDATE: Scroll down for video from the Thor 2 set!
Out of all the Marvel "Phase Two" movies, Thor: The Dark World remains the one to watch, if for no other reason than its pivotal role as a convergence point for many of the plot threads and elements that will lead into upcoming Marvel films like Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers 2 - and quite possibly a Doctor Strange movie, if recent rumors are to believed.
Production on Thor 2 is currently underway in the UK; recent set photos have hinted at a darker and grittier tone for the sequel, which is being helmed by Alan Taylor, whose previous experience as a director on HBO's Game of Thrones has certainly familiarized him with the aesthetics and mechanics of a myth-meets-medieval world. As new Thor 2 set photos further indicate, Taylor is going for some pretty gritty battle scenes as well.
The set photos come courtesy of outlets like WENN and SHH, and seemingly depict Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in the midst of a battle alongside his fellow Asgardian warriors - most notably actress Jaimie Alexander back as Lady Sif - against a horde of armored foes who are the spitting images of the Dark Elves of Svartalfhiem.
Check out this illustration of the Dark Elves in the Thor comic books - then compare it to what you see in the set photo gallery and video:
CLICK FOR THOR vs. DARK ELVES SET PHOTOS
There's little question that the figures Thor and Co. are battling in this scene are Dark Elves, in what is possibly their home realm of Svartalfhiem. Can the first set photos of former Dr. Who alum Christopher Eccleston as Dark Elf king Malekith the Accursed be far behind?
There is question, however, about the particularly big, burly, warrior seen holding an axe-like weapon in the photos. One might assume that it is Algrim the Strong, the most powerful warrior of the Dark Elf race; Algrim will be played in The Dark World by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko on Lost), and since that big guy in the set photo isn't AAA, it's hard to believe we're looking at Algrim. Then again, a white stuntman was used as a stand-in for a pre-CGI Don Cheadle as War Machine on the Iron Man 3 set, so you never know...
Overall, the Dark World set photos indicate that - unless Alan Taylor is rolling those cameras the wrong way - we should be getting some more grounded, Lord of the Rings-style action than the CGI-heavy choreographed
dance fight numbers that Kenneth Branagh put together in Thor. You won't hear us complaining about such a change; if anything, Thor 2 could use an upgrade in battle sequences - and an approach that's more Peter Jackson than George Lucas would understandably be more fitting with this particular character and his world.
The story of Thor 2 will pick up after Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been transported back to Asgard to face punishment for his crimes against Earth in The Avengers. If comic book lore is anything to follow, Malekith the Accursed will scheme to obtain the powerful artifacts housed in Odin's vault - possibly in collusion with the fire demon Sultur of Muspelheim and/or Loki himself. In the comics, Malekith also kidnapped a love-interest of Thor's (presumably that would be Natalie Portman's Jane Foster in this film) and used her to lure the hero into a battle with Algrim (who'd been transformed into a more fearsome warrior known as "Kurse") held in the fiery pits of Muspelheim. Now that would be a "boss battle" we'd love to see on the big screen...
More and more it's looking like Thor will be visiting multiple realms in the sequel (Asgard, Midgard (Earth), Svartalfheim and possibly Muspelheim); The Malekith/Sultur/Loki(?) alliance from the classic comics could very well be the threat; and Odin's vault will either be a major MacGuffin of the story, or a collateral damage event that galvanizes the larger cosmic events of the Marvel "Phase 2" storyline - including the creation of Doctor Strange and implementation of characters like Thanos and Guardians of the Galaxy into the larger narrative that presumably leads up to Avengers 2.
It's a lot to handle, for sure, but if screenwriters Don Payne (Thor) and Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) have done their job well (to the satisfaction of Marvel Phase Two architect Joss Whedon), then Thor 2 could be the Marvel movie that corrects the missteps of predecessors like Iron Man 2, by telling a compelling (and action-packed) standalone story, AND serving as a great tie-in piece to the larger universe.
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.
Update Source: AOL