While many of the Marvel Studios headlines lately have focused on the home video release of The Avengers, casting reports for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Robert Downey Jr. returning to the set of Iron Man 3 after an injury, the most mysterious sequel of the bunch is currently shooting in the UK.
We're of course talking about Thor: The Dark World, a film we didn't know much about - officially speaking - until today. As it turns out, we unofficially had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the basic outline of next year's cosmic Marvel film.
Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures has finally released the official synopsis for Thor: The Dark World:
Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World" continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s "Thor" and "Marvel's The Avengers," Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos...but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, "Thor: The Dark World" is directed by Alan Taylor, produced by Kevin Feige, from a story by Don Payne (credit not final) and screenplay by Christopher Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (credit not final) and is based on Marvel’s classic Super Hero Thor, who first appeared in the comic book "Journey into Mystery" #83 in August, 1962.
"Thor: The Dark World" is presented by Marvel Studios. The executive producers are Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Victoria Alonso, Craig Kyle and Nigel Gostelow. The film releases November 8, 2013, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Full press release on page 2. The second and third paragraphs listing the talent behind the film contain information that has all been released previously as official. The first paragraph, offering the first official description of the plot however, is new, and confirms a lot of what we've reported and theorized about.
The "ancient race" refers (at least in part) to the Dark Elves of of Svartalfheim, whom Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston) leads. Thanks to casting calls for extras and recent descriptions of concept art, we know Thor: The Dark World will show moviegoers not just Asgard, Earth and Svartalheim, but potentially all of the nine realms from Norse Mythology. While Thor may not step foot on all of these worlds, we can expect to learn about them.
The fact that the synopsis name-drops all of the realms as needing Thor's help, lends credence to the rumors and speculation of the sequel ambitiously getting (much) deeper into the lore behind Marvel Comics' take on the mythology. Our own early thoughts were that The Dark World could be taking inspiration from the '80s run of Thor #344-350 which includes Malekith, Loki, almost all of the characters cast so far for the film, along with Surtur, the menacing leader of the fire demons of Muspelheim (who we think could represent the ancient returning race the synopsis mentions). Here's my summary of the events from Thor #344-350 to see how and why this could be the story of the film:
Much like Odin kept the Casket of Ancient Winters locked away in his vault to prevent the Frost Giants from acquiring its power, we saw in Thor the Eternal Flame in Odin’s Vault as well – something Surtur (the fire giant leader) desperately wants to reclaim in order to enchant his sword and burn the nine worlds. In Marvel Comics, specifically in the ’80s run of issues of Thor #344-350 (which includes the The Casket of Ancient Winters saga), we see several important things happen. Loki, Malekith and Surtur all work together – to a certain extent – and this sees Malekith come to Earth.
Without getting into too much detail, Malekith – in the comics – is a bad dude who wants the Casket of Ancient Winters (the blue glowing box from Thor) to use as a weapon to freeze the nine worlds. He was exiled by Odin but later freed by big bad Surtur who sends Malekith to use the casket on Earth, creating a massive winter snow fall – this ties into previous rumors which had some enemy faction trying to invade Asgard and to get to Thor, they attack Earth (and Jane Foster), knowing its importance to him. Surtur also had Malekith meet with Loki and make an agreement to have him help with the Asgard invasion – this is where Loki’s redemption can come into play as he deceives Malekith knowing Surtur intends to destroy Asgard.
With the synopsis referencing an enemy "Odin and Asgard cannot withstand," we know that Asgard and Earth fall under attack, which matches the events of this story from the books. The ancient force, that could very well be the fire demons and not necessarily the Dark Elves. Unfortunately, these specifics remain a mystery as production continues for Thor 2 in the UK. Perhaps "The Dark World" could even refer to a snow-covered Earth?
Sorry, no Dr. Strange confirmation.
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.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.