It’s been a long time since I watched Thor: The Dark World, but I remember it being a flawed movie. The movie I wanted was a buddy cop adventure where Thor and Loki are forced to team up to stop the bad guys. What I got was a movie where bad guys certainly show up, and Loki happens to be in it, but the buddy cop scenes are in short supply.
One thing that I think is a weakness of the movie is the villains, Malekith and his Dark Elves. Here’s what I remember about them.
#3. Malekith wants to destroy the Nine Realms
The villain’s motivation is that he wants to destroy everything and return the universe to “Eternal Night”. That’s it? Malekith is like that guy who is upset that people have been building houses in his neighborhood, and so he decides to burn them all down. This might have worked in some other movie, perhaps, but the strength of Thor was based on the strength of the very personal conflict between a family. Loki was simultaneously a sympathetic villain and supervillain.
It’s implied that Malekith’s family was killed in the opening flashback of the movie but that leads right into the second problematic point about Malekith…
#2. Malekith suicides the bulk of his forces.
Seriously, something like 90% of all on screen Dark Elf casualties suffered by the Dark Elves can be traced directly back to Malekith. In the opening scenes of the movie Malekith, after his Doomsday Weapon got teleported away by Asgardians, decides to kill the bulk of his forces in an attempt to suicide bomb the Asgardians.
So in effect it’s Malekith who kills his family in an obviously vain attempt to defeat his enemy. What makes this even more frustrating is that Malekith doesn’t really need to destroy his own forces.
Admittedly, the possibility that Malekith is projecting his guilt onto the Asgardians for his own murder of his family is an interesting take on the villain, but we really don’t see that in the portrayal of Malekith. He’s kind of an evil dude, who takes a nap, then wakes up and tries to blow up the world. He fails because he underestimates how powerful Thor is. Seriously, Thor is super powerful guys.
#1. Dark Elves are more better than the Asgardians.
This is what makes #2 so frustrating. We see in Thor: The Dark World that the Dark Elves are pretty much superior in than the Asgardians at least in their tactics and implementation of their technology. What’s clear in retrospect from the opening flashback is that the Asgardians had the advantage in mobility thanks to the Bifrost.
But seriously, if you watch the movie you’ll see that the Dark Elves have huge space ships and their weaponry comes from a much more modern design sensibility than the Asgardians. The Asgardians equivalent to a fighter craft is to put jet engines on a boat, whereas the Dark Elves at least seem to grasp the idea of a fighter craft without having to build a boat first.
And during the attack on Asgard it’s shown that the Dark Elves do pretty well. Admittedly, it was a surprise attack and they had inside men, but seriously guys, why kill all your Dark Elves in the opening flashback? You have giant space ships, they have a bunch of guys with swords, at the very least you should have been able to retreat. The Kursed super-soldiers were shown to be able to stalemate Thor for a time, so it seems like the Dark Elves wouldn’t be pushovers for the Asgardians.
So how did the Dark Elves lose in the first place? My hypothesis is that they lost because of a combination of Bor and the Bifrost (which may or may not have been manned by Heimdall). Bor, as Odin’s father, probably was privileged to the same powers as Odin is imbued with and so probably was pretty Superman. He obviously has the Death Star Laser Spear from Thor and probably could do Odin’s super speed trick. Combine his relative invincibility with Heimdall’s omniscience and the Bifrost Rainbow Laser of Doom, and you have a really strong pairing.
The problem with Malekith as portrayed is that he just ultimately has no real interesting motivation, and in fact is pretty much actually kind of bad at being the guy in charge. He and his goons look cool, and he is personally very potent, but he basically kills all his own guys in the first part of the movie, and then spends the rest of the movie not doing very interesting things. He kills Thor’s mom, but that doesn’t really seem to really bring anything to the story. Thor was already motivated to kill the guy, and Loki’s “revenge” thing seemed to be more faked than real.