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Jordan Hoffman

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Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on ScreenCrush, Badass Digest and StarTrek.com.

Release The World Engine! Why ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Is the Nerdiest Superhero Movie Yet

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WARNING: This article has SPOILERS about “Thor: The Dark World.” However, if you are the type of person who wants to read an article like this, it is likely you’ve already sought out the spoilers contained herein on other websites. If you are not that type of person, this will all sound made up.

It isn’t just looking deep and longingly into Chris Hemsworth’s blue eyes, imagining your fingers flowing through his luxurious blonde locks or wondering what your face would feel like pressed against his cut-from-marble chest. No. The movie “Thor: The Dark World” rules (in spite of what Film.com’s official review might have you believe) because of its relentless, gleeful nerdery. It is among the dweebiest things to play in a metroplex and for mainstream audiences in this or any other Multiverse.

Like a glutton at a geek smorgasbord, the screenwriters (and there are a bunch of ‘em on this one) pile on mounds of sci-fi and fantasy tropes. (For the purposes of this metaphor, picture sci-fi as baked Virginia ham and fantasy as cubes of lime jell-o.) Then they add the delicious crackle that is fealty to the Marvel Universe. (That’s the bacon, the delicious bacon.)

“Thor: The Dark World” doesn’t just feature Asgard and Midgard. It features all of the Nine Realms, which are about to line up for the once-in-ten millennia Convergence. There are side trips to Vanaheim, where Sif and the Warriors Three watch Thor battle a Kronan Rock Man. Whether this particular Kronan Rock Men is actually Korg is unknown and dear God I hope you are loving all these ridiculous names as much as I am.

It gets better when the action goes to Svartalfheim. That’s where Malekith the Dark Elf is hanging out, hoping to get his hands on the Aether. The Aether is a bit of floating ooze that, if it falls into the wrong hands during the Convergence, would be very bad indeed. What specifically about it would happen? It’s almost as if the movie doesn’t want to worry – because it doesn’t tell you. However, it does show you what happens when the Aether enters the body of Jane Foster. She floats helplessly in a red void and her eyes turn black. It’s like entering a White Stripes album cover but without the backbeat.

The Aether isn’t the only substance that can change you in “Thor: The Dark World.” Malekith’s buddy Algrim (a big brute of a Dark Elf lemme tell ya) takes one for the team and shoves a Kurse stone into his belly. Then he doubles over and howls like a Klingon undergoing a Painstik Gauntlet during the Second Rite of Ascension as his skin turns to ash. He is transmogrified into Kurse and even Thor’s mighty Mjolnir has trouble getting him to stay down. (I’m gonna keep typing these words even if spellcheck is going crazy. I’m just having too much fun.)

When Dr. Jane Foster is bewitched by the Aether, Thor brings her to an Asgardian healer who diagnoses her using a Soul Forge. Our Earthbound scientist is more into sci-fi than fantasy (a Rush fan, not a Yes fan) and calls the Soul Forge a “quantum field generator.” Of course, they are both right, and that’s why “Thor: The Dark World” is awesome.

When Malekith and his forces sneak past Heimdall and the Bifrost (in crazy-looking spaceships that travel in some sort of undetectable phase space) they immediately start kicking ass. The Asgardians and their cool helmets are no match for the laser-primed staffs of the Dark Elves, or the lobbed hand grenades that – when they explode – suck its victims into some sort of inter-dimensional vortex, never to be heard from again!

Gravimetric imbalances like this are all over this movie, and feature prominently in the final fight set in Greenwich, England. (Why Greenwich? Because longitude is completely badass. Ask Amerigo Vespucci.) Thor and his hammer leap from Realm to Realm, his trusty hammer flying behind him at top speeds. Shenanigans ensue as the fighting moves from one land to another, portals opening and closing like the far-out comic book version of “Noises Off.”

The film’s mid-credits stinger features The Collector, a fairly deep cut character who is one of the Elders of the Universe. His holdings of Infinity Stones (or Gems, as they are called now) will tie into later Marvel films when Thanos works obtain the Infinity Gauntlet. Oh, baby, that’s gonna be sweet.

The film’s post-credits stinger (yeah, there’s two of these absurd things) features some smoochy stuff between Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, but also shots of a four-legged creature who got trapped here in Midgard (outside London, specifically) and who leaps about bashing into cars. Getting rid of the guy is probably a job for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Lastly, to make sure the geek factor is as high as possible, Dr. Foster goes out with Chris O’Dowd, who we first learned about in the code-jockey comedy “The IT Crowd.” You can voice your love or hate about him on alt.nerd.obsessive at any time. But if you’ve just seen “Thor: The Dark World” and love this sort of thing, your eyes may still be rolling in the back of your head as you drool.


Categories: Columns

Tags: Jordan hoffman, Loki, Marvel Movies, Nerds, Op-ed, Superhero Movies, Thor, Thor: The Dark World