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Marvel Cinematic Universe: Everything You Need to Know Before Watching Ant-Man

Marter | 15 Jul 2015 08:00
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Directed by Alan Taylor. Produced by Kevin Feige. Written by
Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely. Release date: November 8, 2013.

Thor: The Dark World, Marvel Cinematic Universe movie #8. That's honestly kind of what it feels like, unfortunately, as it comes across more as an obligation than anything else. That doesn't mean it isn't fun, but it exists to set the stage for future movies - particularly Guardians of the Galaxy - and little more.

The Characters:

Thor (Chris Hemsworth): Our leading character. The heir to the throne of Asgard. Odin's biological child. Learned humility in Thor.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston): Odin's adoptive son and Thor's adoptive brother. The villain of both Thor and The Avengers, and plays a slightly different role here, going back and forth between friend and foe.

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman): A scientist. Thor's love interest.

Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård): A scientist. Hired and works with Jane. Was under the control of Loki in The Avengers and has now gone off the deep end thanks to that trauma.

Odin (Anthony Hopkins): Ruler of Asgard. Father of Thor. Adoptive father of Loki.

Heimdall (Idris Elba): The gatekeeper of the Bifröst Bridge. Sees and hears all, and decides who gets to enter Asgard.

Sif (Jaimie Alexander): Thor's warrior friend and a teased love interest.

Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings): Jane's intern. Our comic relief.

Frigga (Rene Russo): Odin's wife. Thor's mother. Loki's adoptive mother.

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston): The film's villain. The leader of the Dark Elves who wants to destroy the universe.

Algrim (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje): The lieutenant of Malekith.

The Collector (Benicio Del Toro): A man in space who collects Infinity Stones. Cameos in the mid-credits scene. Appears again in Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Plot:

Many, many years ago, Malekith, an evil Dark Elf, fought with the father of Odin, by using the power of the Aether, an Infinity Stone. He was defeated, though, and held in suspended animation.

In present day, an event called the Convergence happens, causing random portals to appear between various realms. Jane Foster, on Earth, stumbles upon one of these and becomes infected by the Aether. This awakens Malekith. Thor takes Jane to Asgard in order to protect her, but Frigga is killed in a battle. Thor recruits Loki to help trick Malekith and bring revenge upon him for the death of their mother. This backfires when Malekith gets the Aether out of Jane and merges with it, fatally wounding Loki.

Thor, enraged by this, winds up battling Malekith across various realms, eventually defeating him by using his human friends' scientific equipment to transport Malekith to a different realm, where he is crushed by his own ship. Back in Asgard, Thor tells Odin of Loki's sacrifice, after which we see Odin transform into Loki learning that the trickster is alive and impersonated his adoptive father.

The mid-credits scene sees Sif and another warrior visit the Collector, giving him the Aether so that two Infinity Stones - the Tesseract is still in Asgard - are not kept together. The Collector then says "one down, five to go," showcasing his desire to possess all six.

Is It Any Good?

Thor: The Dark World is a movie packed with a lot of exposition and world-building. It was necessary for Guardians of the Galaxy to fit into this universe. And because it's so packed with things, it can often be a tougher watch. Once it gets going, though, about halfway through, it's got great action and comedy - some of the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It does have a lot of problems, mostly stemming from its human characters being largely unnecessary, but it's a decent movie.

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