I watched the latest Marvel movie from two perspectives. First, I enjoy the Marvel universe and I have been able to appreciate how the Avengers movies have done such a good job of maintaining their integrity to the comics. Second, I am a student of the world’s mythologies and I hoped that the new characters and different species to be introduced in this movie would continue to match up with the Norse stories.
The Dark Elves, likely Dwarves according to mythology scholars, are rarely and then vaguely mentioned in the myths; making them ripe for interpretation. The comics have done this, and they are Thor’s enemies there. However, they don’t have the same level of insanity in the literature; the villain of the latest movie wanted to destroy the Asgard as well as all the inhabited worlds because his species had been reduced to a small number in a war and he wanted revenge. The movie did not provide enough background to rationalize thinking like that, nor did it give the villain enough significant dialogue to provide some explanation. The plot device that allowed a Dark Elf to become virtually unstoppable until it killed them was also not thought out very well. It is not in mythology, it is not explained, it’s an invention for the movie.
The general relationship to mythology was even less well done. The Thor of myth is a giant-killer, who goes to the land of the Frost and Fire Giants on campaigns. He often goes alone, but occasionally with comrades. He does not interact at all with Loki, who is chiefly Odin’s concern. I knew from the start that such dynamics would not play well in a movie, and was not surprised by the adjustments made for the first one. Loki was used as a facilitator, the Frost Giants became aggressors. It then became necessary for them to be sealed off from the other planets in order to give the audience some closure.
However, I also recognized that the writers had painted themselves into a corner there; the Frost Giants had no leader, and without Loki to cause trouble the Fire Giants had no means of posing a threat either. Their solution was disappointing. They took an undeveloped species from the comics and stretched their history back before time itself.
I liked the movie for a lot of reasons. I enjoyed the chance to see more of Asheim. I could appreciate the coninuing development of Thor as a character in his abilities of deception and self-sacrifice. Loki’s fascinating personality was on display here as well. I found the Earth asides with the quirky assistant and the half-insane former mentor to be great fun. I even found myself happy that Loki had survived (despite the new and unexplained enhancement of his illusion power). But Marvel needs to remember to stick to the comics as closely as possible in order to maintain its audience. They must respect the mythology as well. The Norse stories have developed over thousands of years. They are product of our communal human psyche. They work, they touch us on an emotional level that all the FX in the world cannot match. Best not to interfere with that relationship.