As many visitors to BleedingFool are aware, I’ve written reviews for all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Phase One films. I started working on Phase Two with a review of Iron Man 3, then stopped writing reviews for a couple of weeks. This is because real world events have intruded to disrupt my writing schedule. Of those events, one is somewhat linked to these movie reviews. On the side, I have been writing articles for a news site from a pro-police perspective. Recent events in the United States created a strong demand for such articles, and they have kept me quite busy.
The law enforcement articles are meant to combat the fake news dispensed throughout the mainstream media, which insists on portraying police as law-unto-themselves racist aggressors. Any honest look at available data is enough to counter such dangerous and fraudulent claims but the monolithic nature of the media’s message makes it difficult to find the data. So I try to find it and share it when I can. For instance, how many readers here are aware that there is literally a near zero chance that Kyle Rittenhouse was chased by only the three felons he shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin? In a crowd of that size, to fire at 3 people and to hit 3 convicted felons, would be nearly impossible unless most of the crowd was comprised of convicted felons. Strictly speaking, 80% of the crowd have to be made up of convicted felons to give Rittenhouse a 50/50 chance of hitting three in a row.
For those who love statistics, this is how they are calculated:
|At start||After first shot||After second shot||Probability all three|
|Chance one in:||16.67||24.50||48.00||19,600|
I used the number 50 for crowd size because that is what it looked like to me. But even if it was only ten, to shoot 3 convicted felons if only 3 were among the group would still be against the odds, which give it only a 1 in 100 chance of happening. This is well below the “not chance” threshold of 5% used in medical research and other sciences.
Now you might wonder why I’m talking about convicted felons, law enforcement, and riots in the middle of a review of The Dark World. The reason is that I have been writing these MCU reviews as a way to determine how and when MCU movies switched from being simple entertainment to woke messages for SJW culture. This is important because entertainment products are often infected with as many fake narratives as the media is, and they mutually reinforce each other. The media says that “cops are racist” and then every single movie portrays cops as racists or incompetents, it makes it easier to think of them that way if all sources of outside information (meaning, not direct experience) have the same message and perspective. There are few exceptions to this rule but the MCU was one of those exceptions at first. I believe this is one of the reasons the MCU movies were so popular. There are a number of TV series that started as neutral or conservative, like Home Improvement and The Waltons, but as they became more popular, they became more woke until ratings fell so hard that they were cancelled.
Tony Stark was a fun-loving, hard-partying everyman despite his great wealth. He had some conservative traits and some liberal habits. The mixture was fairly even, making it easy to identify with him, no matter who you are. The Hulk could be imagined as a hounded, persecuted conservative. He was ousted from his job and livelihood, treated as a monster, hounded by the government, and had no discernibly liberal traits at all. The Hulk must have been welcome relief to moviegoers who were sick of imbibing woke propaganda in nearly all of their movie-going experiences.
From my perspective, I got fed up with it a long time ago. I dislike seeing seeing police portrayed as corrupt, racist, and as incompetents. I hate seeing so-called “strong women” like Tim Allen’s TV wife on Home Improvement, emasculate him at every turn, or race-swapped characters like the black Johnny Storm in “The Fantastic Four” reboot. Why was that even done? Was that actor so much better than all the Caucasian alternatives that they had to race-swap the character and thus force the writers to re-imagine the family dynamics of the Fantastic Four characters? Better to have original character of the desired race than to change established characters. To the audience, this could be as jarring as watching Robert Downey Jr. get into the Iron Man armor and then watching Samuel Jackson get out of it.
And then there are the over the top numbers of gay characters inserted into storylines that really don’t benefit from constant reminders of their character’s sexual preferences. For instance, the gay Sulu in Star Trek: Beyond. This doesn’t mean I am against such characters, They have been used very well in some movies where it is appropriate to the story, like David Hyde Pierce in “Wolf”, or the gay couple in “Big Business”, but sticking those references into every orifice of every film is distracting. After a certain point, it seems like the rest of the movie is no more than a delivery vehicle for the knowledge that, for instance, Seven of Nine is now gay! I don’t want to interrupt my interest in a science fiction extravaganza to celebrate gay pride any more than I like being awakened in the middle of the night by a pre-recorded robo call telling me that my extended warranty is about to expire.
Getting back to The Dark World; it wasn’t my favorite nor my least favorite of the MCU overall, or the MCU up to that point. Iron Man set a high bar with its unusually direct, unapologetic style and brassy lead character, played by Robert Downey Jr. Captain America and Thor had great heart, or passion, and the Avengers was a fantastic epic. Competing with these, as well as those not mentioned, is a tough job for any film, even very good ones. Spoiler alert, out of the entire MCU so far, my impression is that there is only one that can be described as “weak”, and that is The Incredible Hulk.
Even so, most of it is an excellent movie.
I wanted to find hints of conservative or liberal subtext in the Dark World, but was frustrated because most of it stayed focused on the story, which is a good thing.
The movie starts with a voice over by Odin, played magnificently by Anthony Hopkins, though slightly less magnificently than when he was directed by Kenneth Branagh in the first Thor film. He tells the story of the Dark Elves and their leader Malekith. Malekith resented a universe filled with life-giving light, and wanted to return it to darkness. To accomplish this, he sought to use the near-infinite power of the Aether, a fluidic Infinity stone. It is interesting to note here that Malekith’s goal makes him much worse than Thanos. More than that, he intended to use one infinity stone to accomplish twice the death and destruction contemplated by Thanos, who needed all six. Malekith was moments from victory in his first attempt, until stopped by Odin’s father, Bor. Bor ordered the Aether stashed where it would never be found again.
Back in the present, Thor pines for the earth woman Jane Foster. Meanwhile, the beautiful Sif is ever near and available. All Thor would have to do is throw a glance her way and she’d be his for the remainder of their natural lifespans. Odin reminds him of this, telling him that Foster’s life will be here and gone in the blink of an eye, while Sif will endure as long as he will. It is this dynamic, if any, that comes across as somewhat liberal. The reason is that Sif strikes me as a conservative woman while Foster comes across as a liberal. For Thor to prefer Foster over Sif makes about as much sense to me as seeing Prince Harry marry Meagan Markle to become Mr. Markle after leaving the royal family behind.
Sif is a strong woman but she is also respectful, responsible, and duty-bound. I can picture her having children with Thor. These are all traits I associate with conservatives. At the same time, Foster is portrayed as disrespectful, irresponsible, and flighty. She could have an abortion or she might carry a baby to term, but it would be a fifty-fifty chance with her, unlike Sif. I could picture both women at an Antifa rally, but Foster would be in the crowd with demonstrators and Sif would be there to defend the city against Antifa’s depredations. More than that, if the two women encountered each other, Foster would be incapable of comprehending why Sif, a woman, would be on the other side of the issue. Add in the fact that Sif has the longer life span, understands Asgardian life, and is clearly the more stable of the two, Thor’s attraction to Foster makes no sense. The only reason he would go for Foster over Sif is that he is controlled against his will by the film’s writers.
Why would a screenwriter want Thor to go after Foster over Sif? They could say it is because Thor is smitten by Foster in the comics. This is true but Foster was originally much more like Sif than the incarnation we see in this film. She was a caring, helpful, responsible, respectful nurse, not a ditzy unmarried professional woman. When Foster was introduced, Thor suffered from the additional burden of being trapped in the body of physician Donald Blake, which made it possible to appreciate Foster through the eyes of a mortal.
My guess is that the screenwriters were aware of the Foster/Thor storyline and felt they had to use it. That makes sense to me. The problem is the way they changed Foster into a modern feminist ideal: brainy, accomplished, single, and aggressively “equal”. Her attempts to assert her equality with Odin, by treating him like any other subway passenger, are cringe-inducing. I understand that in woke culture, lack of respect for authority is a badge of honor but to my eyes it just looks stupid.
Every time Sif is on screen, I want to shout to Thor, “Go to her! You moron! Ditch that Foster woman, she’s no good!” Luckily, everyone else in Thor’s family noticed the problem and gave him the same advice but he ignored them all. Just like Prince Harry. Next thing you know, he’ll be in Hollywood trying to cash in on the Asgardian brand, selling Royal Asgardian hammers or some such.
My favorite characters in The Dark World are: Thor, Odin, Sif, Darcy, Ian, Dr. Selvig, and Richard. The other major characters are: Malekith, Loki, Kurse and Foster. Normally I like Loki, but in this film he breaks character several times by shouting like a student actor. Hiddleston’s Loki is perfectly believable as a brooding and careful man. He is not believable when he raises his voice and shouts. This happened in the Avengers also, during a conversation with Black Widow. He was trying to express malice but went too far in my opinion. He does the same here, but too often and without enough redeeming moments to help me forget them. Malekith and Kurse suffered from what may have been direction that they deliberately speak in a slow, grave, and archaic-sounding way. It came across as foreign exchange students practicing their English on each other. The problem is, they were speaking their native elf language, which was translated into subtitles for movie-goers. There was no reason for them to be so slow and halting, other than they were thoroughly unfamiliar with the sounds they were making.
Many of my favorite moments in this film, like the previous Thor, involved the secondary character Darcy Lewis, Foster’s intern. Watching these two together is astonishing because Darcy, played by Kat Dennings, lights up the screen in a way that Natalie Portman can’t hope to equal. Portman is pretty but Darcy has plenty of zing as an actress. She is hilarious pretty much every time she opens her mouth to speak. She has one silent moment in the film that is easily one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in a movie.
Darcy’s assistant Ian and the trouserless Dr. Selvig are also funny, and add a great deal to the scenes they appear in. Charlie O’Dowd, of IT Crowd fame, makes a surprise appearance as a love interest for Foster. He was funny also but more than that, I would have enjoyed watching a romantic comedy about his character as he pursues the aloof Foster, then realizes he’s much better off with Sif, and he moves to Asgard.
I hate to say it, but just as in Thor, I walked away from Thor: The Dark World feeling like the movie could have just as easily been titled Jane Foster: The Dark World. The reason is that her character stuck out like a sore thumb. She did not belong. In the scenes that are meant to be the most dramatic in the film, Foster is handled like a fashion model in a photo spread for Vogue by celebrity photographer Annie Liebowitz. The images are compelling but they take me right out of the movie. Instead of thinking about Foster’s relationship to the characters and events of the film, I’m thinking, “wow, she really is pretty when she isn’t talking.”
Overall, The Dark World was a perfectly good movie, though my wife didn’t like it because she found the “dark” theme off-putting. I admit to having the same feeling but I enjoy sci-fi enough that I was willing to set that aside so that I could enjoy the movie. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was really looking forward to the garish electric color of Ragnarok. In comparison, The Dark World is weaker technically but preferable on the basis of a more engrossing story that is truer to the ideals of the character than Ragnarok was.