'Thor: The Dark World' mixes fantasy and mythology

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6 2013 5:25 p.m. MST

Loki (Tom Hiddleston), left, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) form an uneasy alliance in defense of the cosmos in "Thor: The Dark World," which opens in U.S. theaters Friday.

Courtesy Marvel Studios

Having saved the Earth in the first “Thor” movie, the Marvel Comics superhero/god takes a mighty whack — with his fabled hammer, of course — at saving the entire cosmos in the much-anticipated “Thor: The Dark World,” which opens Friday in movie theaters across the United States.

Chris Hemsworth returns in the title role, with Natalie Portman back as Thor’s human love interest, Jane Foster. Tom Hiddleston is also back as Loki, Thor’s adoptive brother and nemesis in both “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers.” Only this time, Loki and Thor must work together to defeat a villain that is even too powerful for their father, Odin, played once again by Anthony Hopkins.

The cast also includes Stellan Skarsgård reprising the role of Dr. Erik Selvig; Idris Elba as the all-seeing, all-hearing sentry Heimdall; Christopher Eccleston (“Doctor Who”) as the malevolent Malekith; Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the evil lieutenant Strong/Kurse; Zachary Levi as Fandral; and Rene Russo as Frigga, wife of Odin and queen of Asgard.

Directed by Alan Taylor (“Palookaville,” “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones”), “Thor: The Dark World” opened internationally last week, taking in nearly $110 million in its first weekend in such countries as Great Britain, France, Mexico and Brazil.

Forbes estimates the production cost of the new Thor film to be around $200 million, so the stronger-than-expected international opening is seen as “another victory for Marvel Studios and parent company Disney,” according to the Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock.

“I don’t think the anticipation for the new Thor movie is quite at the level of ‘The Avengers’ last year,” said Dan Farr, founder of Salt Lake Comic Con and an experienced businessman. “But if you’re a fan of the Marvel movies — and there seem to be an awfully lot of those — you’re aware of the new movie and you’re probably going to come out to see it. I don’t see how you can enjoy one of those movies and not want to see the others.”

According to Farr, the anticipation for “The Dark World” is especially true in certain demographics.

“I’ve seen a lot of women in the 35-50 age range, ladies who aren’t typically fans of superhero movies, who are big fans of Chris Hemsworth,” he said, chuckling, acknowledging that his wife, Stephanie, is among those fans.

“And so are all her friends,” he added. “It’s kind of funny. Even her sister, who hasn’t had a celebrity crush ever, is one of them. If we can get Chris Hemsworth to come to the Salt Lake Comic Con next year, we won’t have any trouble selling tickets to that demographic.”

One person who is not eagerly anticipating the new movie opening is Dan McCoy of Nashville, whose Norse mythology website is billed as “the ultimate online resource for Norse mythology and religion.” Although Thor is among his favorite Norse gods and the legends of Odin and Asgard are as comfortable and familiar to him as Bible stories are to Christians, he didn’t see the first “Thor” and doesn’t plan to see “The Dark World.”

“I had every intention of going to see the first one,” he said during a telephone interview last week. “But then I saw the trailer for the movie on YouTube, and I could see it wasn’t a movie that I was interested in seeing” — not because of any scholarly objection to the way significant Norse mythological characters are presented in the film but because “action movies and supernatural movies in general just don’t appeal to me.”

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