Before Marvel’s conquest of pop-culture became a fait accompli, the first Thor movie had the feel of a bridge too far. Sure, movie audiences had lined up around the block for Iron Man, but two Hulk movies had failed to smash, and Thor — a Norse god in the comics who wielded a flying hammer — seemed like the most inaccessible hero of the bunch of Avengers. But then director Kenneth Branagh’s “momentous and lighthearted” 2011 movie came out, and people really seemed to dig Chris Hemsworth’s buff Shakespearean warrior. The movie grossed $181 million and even the critics were kind… ish.
In Thor: The Dark World, the crown prince of Asgard is reunited with his love, astrophyicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), after she discovers an alien substance that puts Earth and the known universe in danger. The threat from a race of Dark Elves — led by Christopher Eccleston — is so great that Thor has no choice but to call upon his devious brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who may be puny but is always a dastardly delight. “Hiddleston, with pleading eyes and a mad-dog grin, plays Loki as a wounded sociopath who’s cackling at the world but seething on the inside,” says EW’s Owen Gleiberman.
Thor was a promising beginning, The Avengers solidified the hero’s standing and made Loki a cinematic god. Will The Dark World raise them to even greater heights? Click below to see what the nation’s critics think before heading to the theater. READ FULL STORY