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Trailer Watch: Loki Smirks His Way Through New Great, Not Too Revealing Thor: The Dark World Trailer

This is Geek Week over at YouTube, and Marvel has christened the occasion with the release of its new trailer for Thor: The Dark World.  Here it is:

Those who were either at Comic-Con or obsessively read coverage from those in attendance will immediately recognize that this is NOT the trailer which premiered in San Diego last month.  That one, to the surprise of many (and dismay of some), ended with a huge spoiler-y cliffhanger.  I for one am happy that this new trailer they made for wide release has excised that footage.  If you are unopposed to spoilers, you can read a description of the Comic-Con trailer here, but I’d heavily advice against it.

The trailer we did get looks good, but it actually does not reveal much more than the first one.  The first trailer provided the details of a basic plot involving a very old entity known as Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) which threatens the various realms of the world, including Earth (specifically poor, poor London, the increasingly beloved target of all cinematic villains).  We got to see Thor reunite with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), forge an uneasy alliance with Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and battle alongside Sif (Jaime Alexander), who is hinted as being not entirely on board with the Thor/Jane Foster pairing.  This new trailer re-hashes those same basic points, though it holds back any of the Jane/Thor/Sif triangle hints, while offering us our first glimpses of Idris Elba and Stellan Skarsgard in action (however brief), a bit more of Kat Dennings (though not much more), Rene Russo as Thor’s mother fighting off attackers, and the voice Christopher Eccleston will be using as Malekith (honestly, to me he sounded pretty much just like he did on Doctor Who).   What are the overall takeaways or bits of new information to be gleaned here?

Should This Just Be Called Thor & Loki: Back Together Again?

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Tom Hiddleston appeared in character as Loki at the Thor: The Dark World panel at the San Diego Comic-Con last month, working the crowd into a “say my name!/Loki!/I cant’ hear you…/Lokkkkiiiii!” fervor (you can see it here) before premiering the aforementioned trailer.  Since then, Hiddleston’s made headlines by confirming that Loki will not appear in the next Avengers film, and earlier today  he indicated he might be open to making an appearances as Loki on ABC’s forthcoming Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

What I am trying to say is that he is crazy popular right now, and with good reason – Loki is arguably the most captivating and complex villain yet accomplished by any of the Marvel films from Iron Man to The Avengers to Iron Man 3.  Heck, he’s arguably a more interesting character than even Thor.  So, it’s no surprise that this new trailer is front-loaded with footage of Loki, be it footage we’d already seen (Thor recruiting Loki from his Hannibal Lector-style prison cell) or new material mostly centering on Loki smirking as everyone threatens him, even Jane Foster.  In fact, it honestly seems more like a trailer for the long-awaited Loki movie than Thor film until Loki mostly disappears in the trailer’s second half.

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Loki is a bit of a problem for Marvel right now.  His popularity rivals if not surpasses that of the hero he is in opposition to, but as a god he’s basically unkillable thus eliminating some potential for narrative tension.  They’ve already used him as the primary villain in two of their films, Thor and The Avengers.  At a certain point, you either make him a Spike-esque anti-hero (ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer), or put him on the shelf to bring back out when the timing is right. With the new trailer so heavily tipping their hand about the likelihood of an imminent betrayal on Loki’s part is it possible that it could all be a mis-direction?  They are the same company that seriously misled us on The Mandarin with the Iron Man 3 promotional material.

You Better Be On Board with A Film Taking Place Mostly on Not-Earth

The original Thor is notoriously front and back-loaded with sequences involving live actors interacting with largely CGI surroundings.  It was the fish-out-of-water section featuring Thor on Earth that made the film work, and its CGI-heavy finale carry any emotional heft. However, the sequel is thought to kick off Marvel’s new cosmic-influenced portion of Phase 2, with Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Solider being Earth-bound stories and Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy taking place mostly in other realms of the galaxy.  It is believed this is part of a long-game to set up Thanos, i.e., the Hellboy-looking dude from The Avengers closing credits scene, as a villain for a third Avengers film.

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Thanos…you know, the guy you’d never heard of before until The Avengers.

 As such, there is a fair amount of hand-wringing over whether or not audiences will respond to a Thor movie which appears to begin on Earth before spending most of its remaining times in other realms, including Asgard.  Luckily, new director Alan Taylor has brought with him a slightly more realistic approach than his predecessor (Kenneth Branagh, who did an amazing job on the first film).  For example, Asgard in the trailers for The Dark World looks a bit more like a real place in which actual living entities reside…

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…whereas before it kind of looked more like the cartoon home of gods.  In fact, in the first film from certain angles Asgard looked more like a Disney castle, as seen below:

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Plus, Taylor has clearly carried over his experience from directing Game of Thrones to film The Dark World on location throughout Iceland and use actual historical castles throughout the U.K. as stand-ins for something meant to take place in a realm far, far away.  So, while much of the film appears as if it will take place on not-Earth it will at least resemble something recognizable and not be the full-on CGI freak-out of the opening of Man of Steel or the first Thor.  Or so the trailers lead us to believe at this point.  There could be way more stuff set on actual Earth than they’re letting on.

Thor Is Still a Bad-Ass

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Most trailers for big blockbuster films have to have it nowadays: the last rush of adrenaline at the end of the trailer.  Man of Steel had a quick shot of Superman fighting General Zod in mid-air.  Thor: The Dark World manages to do that with a sense of humor, including a very, very Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark-esque sequence involving Thor presented with a formidable foe he vanguishes in comically short order.  Because Thor…still kind of a bad-ass when he has that hammer.

Thor: The Dark World is due to be released in the UK on October 30, 2013 and in the US on November 8, 2013.

Here’s the synopsis for Thor: The Dark World:

“Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.”

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