Of all the upcoming five Marvel Studios’ features with confirmed release dates (all sequels to established properties), Thor: The Dark World may have the most complicated story yet to tell.
Thanks to its ‘otherworldly’ origins, the Thor comic has its own vast continuity and an array of characters based on rich Norse mythology to draw from, and from the sounds of it, director Alan Taylor is attempting to explore much of it in his first big budget feature film.
Even if we ignore rumors (unfortunately only that) about Dr. Strange’s appearance in Thor 2, the film will attempt to introduce other realms and new villains into the cinematic universe. The latest news about the sequel has UK actors Richard Brake and Clive Russell joining the cast as Asgardian characters who may help the hero against his newfound foes. We wrote about this a few days ago, but the focus now is on speculations about what will be going on and how the actors’ characters will fit in the sequel, so bear with me, please.
As we wrote, Brake and Russell will play an Asgardian soldier and Tyr, respectively. Brake will play a captain in Asgard’s elite Einherjar [an army of (un)dead warriors in the mythology], who appear in the comics teamed with Thor on several occasions, most notably in an attempt of the U.S. military to defend Earth against an assault by Surtur and his fire demons (make a mental note about this).
This fact goes back to early casting calls we covered, which indicated the production was looking for actors and stunt people who are comfortable or trained in using fire to play ‘warriors’ which also hints at fire demons playing a part in the film – it’s plausible that Surtur and his Fire Giants from the realm of Muspelheim will play an important role in Thor: The Dark World, or at least will be introduced.
Also, we already know that Christopher Eccleston is playing Malekith the Accursed. In the comics, it’s exactly Surtur who works with Malekith and Loki and their goals may be a key story part for the followup.
Russell, on the other hand, who played Captain Tanner in both of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films and is joining season 3 of Game of Thrones (yaaaay!), has been cast as Tyr, the short-tempered older brother of Thor. Tyr and Balder
(invulnerable god of light and joy), who like Thor are biological children of Odin, weren’t included nor mentioned in the first Thor but that can be justified as being dependant on which parts of Marvel Comics history are adopted in The Dark World.
As you probably know already, Tyr is Asgard’s bloodthirsty God of War and at times has opposed both Odin and Thor – mostly due to his lust for battle – but at other times due to jealousy over Thor’s relationship with Sif and his title of being Asgard’s greatest warrior. Whereas Thor wields his mighty hammer Mjolnir, Tyr uses a sword in his one able hand but had at one time in his possession (through questionable means) the Mace of the Myth-Wars, a weapon comparable in power to Thor’s, and one that would certainly allow Tyr to stand out in the film’s large-scale clashes.
Tyr has defended Asgard from otherworldly foes on several occasions but has also worked against it, teaming with Loki. We’ll have to wait and see on which side of the line Tyr makes his mark in the Thor sequel, but of note is that he also teamed with The Avengers and the Einherjar in defending Earth from Surtur and the fire demons, so that might be another hint.
Knowing each of these characters’ histories, if Thor: The Dark World is going to delve as deep into the Nine realms as we think, then we can start to piece together a theory on where these characters will find themselves in the next movie(s). Set photos from the UK production (that we published a bit earlier this month) already reveal Svartalfheim, the home of the Dark Elves and Algrim the Strong (ruled by Malekith), where a major battle is supposed to take place.
Asgard, Earth and two more realms for the Dark Elves and Fire Giants are a lot of ground to cover in just one film so another plausible theory is that Thor: The Dark World could setup the story for another Thor sequel where he would battle Surtur, arguably one of the most menacing of Thor’s villains. If we want to get really deep into wild speculation, we can take Feige’s recent quotes about Thanos and Phase Three as a sign that Thanos won’t be the primary villain of The Avengers 2 and instead, like its predecessor, Thor 2 could be serving up another villain for The Avengers to protect earth against – like the mentioned Surtur and the Fire Giants, for example.
Just like The Avengers where Thanos hid in the background, he could be doing the same in its sequel, although Surtur doesn’t at all fit Joss Whedon’s approach to The Avengers 2 (going smaller and more personal).
Thanos, Surtur, Malekith and the Guardians of the Galaxy are however, all connected by the mystical artifacts hidden away in Odin’s Vault (seen in the first Thor) and this is yet another reason why Thor: The Dark World is an important and challenging project in telling its own complex story while also potentially serving as a launchpad for multiple other films. There’s a reason it’s positioned before Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers 2.
Thor: The Dark World is being directed by Alan Taylor and stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
Iron Man 3 hits the theaters on May 3rd, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015.