MCU Sequels: How do they stack up against their original films?

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Credit: Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures; from Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World was full of talented people and unfortunately they were not all completely invested in the material. First Patty Jenkins dropped out as director and was replaced by Alan Taylor. As a television director Taylor may have been used to answering to a higher authority, which could seem in line with the idea of a shared movie universe, but one of the great things about the Marvel studio is that they let their directors operate with independence and encourage an auteur’s vision.

The first Thor had a sort of Shakespearian tragedy spin to it with Kenneth Branagh leading the charge and the third was heavily stylized by Taika Waititi with its radiant coloring, synthesized soundtrack, and absurdist humor. Alan Taylor just doesn’t leave his mark on #2.

Natalie Portman was an advocate for Patty Jenkins to direct, so she was probably not too happy about the break-up. In response, the Academy Award winning actress goes through the motions, giving a less enthusiastic performance than in Thor and is conspicuously never seen in another MCU film again after.

To make matters worse, the talented Christopher Eccleston was hired just to stand around looking ominous. Malekith the Accursed is the weakest villain in the MCU, reducing the importance of the conflict between the god of thunder and the dark elf. But even if the bad guy was as lazily written as villains in the DCEU, The Dark World as a whole is more agreeable than the Snyderverse films.

Chris Hemsworth is extremely charismatic as Thor. Of course when the material is superior (The Avengers, Ragnarok, Infinity War) Hemsworth comes off looking a lot better, however he is always endearing and amusing as Thor and that goes for The Dark World as well.

The movie featured a sensational attack from the elves on Asgard that ended dramatically with Frigga killed in action. The sequel also had one of the best cameos in the entire MCU – Chris Evans as the shape shifting Loki mocking Captain America.

And yes, we have a Loki. His value in the MCU should never be understated. Any movie where Tom Hiddleston plays the god of mischief is worth the price of admission. Loki was the most compelling character in The Dark World, from concealing his fragile state while in the Asgardian prison, to faking his own death, and finally claiming the throne by masquerading as Odin.

All in all, if this is as bad as the MCU gets, then Marvel devotees have a lot to celebrate.