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Are you experiencing superhero fatigue? With so many Marvel flicks and now Agents of SHIELD on every week, it’s understandable if you’re wary of yet another Marvel movie, especially the successor to the weak link in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Thor. Fortunately, Thor: The Dark World improves upon the first film in nearly every aspect. It’s funnier, brings back the characters we liked and makes them even better, and has some amazing action to boot.

Opening with some heavy exposition, the first act is a bit slow but it picks up once all the pieces are in place and characters are (re)introduced.  The main villain of the piece got a big expository backstory for why he’s just so darn evil, but that wasn’t enough to make him truly interesting. The best part of the villain is the epic final battle between Thor, Malekith, and the gravitational forces at play thanks to Jane Foster’s mastery of astrophysics. While I know Loki can’t be the villain in every Marvel movie, it’s just so much more fun when he is.

That’s not to say that Tom Hiddleston as Loki isn’t fun in this film. That’s always one of the highlights of Marvel – they look like they’re fun to make, they keep it light throughout and never get bogged down in too much melodrama and grit. While there are definitely serious moments and major action set pieces, they always seem to find the right moment to crack a joke or throw in a funny line to keep it from going off the deep end. This isn’t Batman with his dead parents and doom and gloom, this is the story of a mythical demi-god and how he fell in love with a human.

Zachary Levi is one of the many people keeping things light, replacing the original Fandral (played by Josh Dallas, Once Upon a Time). As a major fan of the NBC series Chuck, I’m always glad to see him on screen. If you’ve seen Tangled, then you’ve seen this character before. He basically pulls a live-action Flynn Rider and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I hope this side character finds its way in to more Marvel films.

thor: the dark world

Natalie Portman is fantastic as Jane Foster, and remains among my favorite of the Marvel ladies. In fact, all of the female characters are fantastic – yes I even found Kat Dennings funny in this one. Between Jane Foster’s brilliance, Sif’s strength in battle, and Frigga’s skills with a sword and general regal elegance, this is the strongest array of women in a Marvel movie yet. Hopefully we’re not too far off from a female-lead superhero flick, but I’m not holding my breath. Black Widow, Jane Foster, Peggy Carter, and Pepper Potts will have to suffice for now.

Thor: The Dark World opens in theaters November 8, 2013.

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The Author

Kristal Bailey

Kristal Bailey

With a soft spot for movies that fall into the “So Bad They’re Good” category, Kristal Bailey regularly watches B-movies, 80s comedies, and sci-fi from the 50s and 60s. She also refuses to grow up if that means she has to hide her love for Disney and Pixar films.

In her free time, she enjoys reading graphic novels or books that are soon to be turned into movies, watching hours and hours of television, and spending way too much time on Twitter.