SPOILER ALERT. Do not pass go if you haven’t seen this film yet and do not want spoilers. If you have seen it or don’t care about spoilers, welcome.
1. Brotherly Bonds
Thor and Loki are thrown into an uneasy alliance and mutual quest for vengeance after the loss of a loved one, and their brotherly banter and shared angst over their messy past sustains this film for a good 30 minutes. I love seeing them work together, even if Loki plays Thor and plays Thor hard toward the end of their little truce. He wouldn’t be Loki if he didn’t manipulate Thor and the others around him in some way. But their dynamic pulls you in and makes you wish for more once their time together ends. Maybe we’ll see more in Thor 3?
2. Dark Elves
With so much going on in the film, Malekith was not as developed a villain as he could have been. Still, I found myself rooting for him more than a little. Granted, that reaction partly derives from my distaste for Odin. But, it really comes down to the “brothers in arms” dynamic between Malekith and Algrim. They deeply care for and respect each other as comrades, and again, I wish we’d seen more of their interactions before Algrim became Kurse and summarily stopped speaking. On a shallower note, I adore the Dark Elves’ aesthetic and their creepy, expressionless battle masks.
3. Everyone’s a Badass!
Nearly everyone got their moment to show why they’re bad mutha-you-know-whats. Frigga used a stolen sword from a palace guard to hand Malekith and a few other elves their asses. Heimdall took down an entire space ship with a couple of daggers, a sword, and a well-timed jump. The Warriors Three (minus Hogun) and Sif dispatched handfuls of warriors on their own. Even Loki took out a group of attackers with nothing more than a dagger. While Jane, Darcy, and Dr. Selvig didn’t do much sword fighting, they created the tech that ultimately saved the earth from destruction. Badass!
1. Rampant Ableism
In this film, Dr. Eric Selvig still deals with the aftermath of Loki hijacking his brain, and the writers went all in invoking the trope of the stereotypical, mentally ill, unwashed vagrant. What’s more, the film relentlessly played that one note, ableist joke over and over again. Selvig’s mental health issues are framed as pure comic relief. We’re supposed to laugh at his residual mental health issues. We’re supposed to laugh at the sheer amount of medication he takes to function daily. We’re supposed to laugh about him behaving like he’s drunk and not quite right. I did not laugh.
2. Oh, the Sexism
While Frigga got to be a total badass, she was ultimately fridged to facilitate the reconciliation between Thor and Loki and to fuel their epic quest. The powers that be also had no idea what to do with Jane for most of the film after settling on her needing protection from Thor & Co. She quite literally spent a good 30 minutes of the film lying down, out of the frame while Thor, Loki, and the menfolk actually did things. As a side note, I’m so very good on Sif and Jane having any friction over Thor. Can we not, movie?
3. The Racism
The powers that be couldn’t have written Hogun out of the film more gracelessly if they tried. He shows up on screen for a hot minute before Thor, literally and actually, tells him to stay off-world. That’s the last we see of him besides a two second shot of him observing all the action. I’m also not very happy with Algrim/Kurse sacrificing himself in service of whiteness and ultimately becoming a monster and with Kurse being the one to kill Frigga. I’m about done with the imagery of hyper violent, monstrous, black men menacing white women, thank you very much.
1. (Post) Colonial Critique
J. Michael Straczynski has explicitly discussed the themes of imperialism, colonialism, genocide, and oppression he invoked in the first Thor film. In fact, he revealed at a recent convention that, given his way, he would’ve delved more deeply into those themes regarding the relationship between Asgard and Jotunheim. Those themes (accidentally, I believe) carried over into this film. It’s easy to see a parallel to world history as the mostly white Asgardians subjugate the monstrous Jotuns and the “dark” Elves. I hear Odin’s version of events, and I wonder if the Asgardians are truly heroes or work as an imperializing force throughout the nine realms.
2. Allegorical People of Color
I’m actually really over the alien, seemingly villainous creatures used as stand-ins for oppressed peoples and specifically people of color given the imperialist narrative. I’m over the idea that these are the bodies with whom I’m meant to identify given the rarity of people of color in these films. Rarer still do we see people of color as lead characters. Still, I do identify with Malekith, Laufey, and Loki (in the first film) because their stories echo my own.
3. All the Genres!
This film blended science fiction and historical fantasy together in ways I’ve not seen before. The first film set out the same sort of genre buffet, but you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen warriors fighting against each other with broadswords and laser guns in the same scene. We also witness more than a few space ship battles and more jumping into dimensional portals than you can shake a stick at. My roomie actually leaned over to me during the film and said, “This is a little more sci-fi than I anticipated.” For what it’s worth, I thought they blended genres believably.
Readers, what did you think of the film?