Superhero movies are in abundance these days and it is easy to see why they have become so popular. Tales of beings with larger than life personalities and extraordinary powers are the epitome of movie escapism. Hollywood’s love affair with this new genre continues and there are a few big superhero films due out this year. Thor: The Dark World is one of them and it is a sequel to Kenneth Branagh’s film Thor released in 2011. In that film Thor, the God of Thunder (played by Chris Hemsworth) defeated his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who sought to take over Asgard the home of Thor and his people. Thor saved his home and he was made the ruler of Asgard by his proud father Odin
(played by Anthony Hopkins.) He matured as a character and became a responsible leader which made him a valuable asset when he then joined the Avengers. He also bonded with a few humans including Jane Foster, a scientist played by Natalie Portman.

In Thor: The Dark World Thor fights against a new enemy called Malekith played by well known British actor and former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston. He is the leader of a race known as the dark elves and he launches an attack on London at the start of the trailer. Jane Foster travels to London to investigate strange occurrences that foreshadow Malekith’s invasion. When Malekith arrives and her life is put in danger Thor returns to Earth to face this new threat. Asgard is also seen under attack in the trailer and it makes the viewer wonder if the attack on Earth was merely a diversion. In the comic book version of the story that was the villainous strategy and it may be the same in the movie but this is speculation. The invasion plot in the movie could be the other way round with Asgard as the diversion or maybe both realms are of equal importance but time will tell. This threat is so great that Thor has no choice but to turn to his brother Loki who is now a prisoner for aid. Together they must find a way to overcome this new tribulation or suffer dire consequences.

The film appears to have plenty of action and drama based on what is shown in the trailer. Thor: The Dark World is larger in scale than the first film and will feature plenty of big battles. The trailer also hints at a possible tragedy involving Jane Foster as she is attacked by Malekith in a brief shot during the trailer. Most of the cast members from Thor return including Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Rene Russo alongside newcomers Christopher Ecclestone as Malekith and Zachary Levy as Fandral. Most of the supporting cast also return including Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano and Stellan Skarsgård.

The Avengers are conspicuously absent in the trailer and some viewers may wonder why they were not called upon to help out. Obviously these movies are intended to be separate affairs featuring individual heroes but no doubt some moviegoers will be baffled. Suspension of disbelief may be required in order to overlook this issue.  Another rather amusing thing is how often London seems to be the city being attacked in movies these days. At least three big movies this year feature the capital under attack. Maybe Hollywood is bored of using New York for this purpose.

The trailer is full of spectacle and it makes liberal use of slow camera pans and dramatic music to good effect as elements are revealed. The special effects should be top notch and the impressive cast list should ensure the acting is up to snuff too. The director Alan Taylor has experience with the fantasy genre before as he worked on the Game of Thrones series so he knows his onions. Kenneth Branagh decided not to direct the sequel for some reason and Taylor was eventually given the job. Taylor’s touch is evident here as the film looks less like a superhero movie and more akin to a fantasy like Game of Thrones. That gives the film a unique flavor which makes it very different from the other Marvel superhero flicks like Iron Man and Captain America.

Thor: The Dark World follows the pattern of being a sequel that is bigger than the previous film in every way. The film has more characters, a larger scale and bigger stakes. Hopefully the film will not sacrifice substance and character development in favor of too much overt action and spectacle. In the first film characters like Jane Foster had little to do and it felt like the movie wasted Natalie Portman’s talents. It would be nice if her character has more relevance in this sequel.  The same could be said of Idris Elba and Rene Russo who were also underused in Thor. They all deserve some more screen time in this sequel and it would be good to find out more about them. The final ingredient this film needs is a memorable villain with screen presence. Tom Hiddleston is a very good actor but he didn’t seem like a real threat in Thor or The Avengers. Christopher Ecclestone certainly has the acting chops to become a great comic book villain and if he is on top of his game the film will be all the better for it.

The film will be released on November 8th so take a look at the trailer and share your thoughts.