Thor: The Dark World is a 2013 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to Thor (2011) and the eighth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Alan Taylor from a screenplay by Christopher Yost and the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor alongside Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, and Rene Russo. In the film, Thor and Loki team up to save the Nine Realms from the Dark Elves.
Development of a sequel to Thor began in April 2011 when producer Kevin Feige announced plans for it to follow the MCU crossover film The Avengers (2012). In July, Thor director Kenneth Branagh withdrew from the sequel. Brian Kirk and Patty Jenkins were considered to replace him as director before Taylor was hired in January 2012. The supporting cast filled out in August 2012, with the hiring of Eccleston and Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the film's villains. Filming took place from September to December 2012 primarily in Surrey, England, as well as in Iceland and London. Taylor wanted the film to be more grounded than Thor, inspired by his work on Game of Thrones. He hired Carter Burwell to compose the score, but Marvel replaced Burwell with Brian Tyler.
Thor: The Dark World premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on October 22, 2013, and was released in the United States on November 8, as part of Phase Two of the MCU. The film received praise for the performances of Hemsworth and Hiddleston, visual effects, and action sequences, but received criticism for Eccleston's villain being generic and lacking depth. It was a commercial success, grossing over $644 million worldwide, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of 2013. A third film, Thor: Ragnarok, was released in 2017, while a fourth film, Thor: Love and Thunder, is in development and scheduled for release in 2022.
Eons ago, Bor, father of Odin, clashes with the Dark Elf Malekith, who seeks to unleash a weapon known as the Aether on the nine realms. After conquering Malekith's forces, including enhanced warriors called the Kursed, on their home world of Svartalfheim, Bor safeguards the Aether within a stone column. Unknown to Bor, Malekith and a handful of Dark Elves escape into suspended animation.
In present-day Asgard, Loki stands imprisoned for his war crimes on Earth. Meanwhile, Thor, alongside warriors Fandral, Volstagg, and Sif, repels marauders on Vanaheim, home of their comrade Hogun; it is the final battle in a war to pacify the Nine Realms following the reconstruction of the Bifröst, the "Rainbow Bridge" between realms, which had been destroyed two years earlier. The Asgardians soon learn that the Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms, is imminent; as the event approaches, portals linking the worlds appear at random.
In London, astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster and her intern Darcy Lewis travel to an abandoned factory where such portals have appeared, disrupting the laws of physics around them. Separating from the group, Foster is teleported to another world, where she absorbs the Aether. Heimdall alerts Thor that Foster has moved beyond his near all-seeing vision, leading Thor to Earth. When Thor finds Foster, she inadvertently releases an unearthly force, and Thor returns with her to Asgard. Odin, recognizing the Aether, warns that the Aether will not only kill Foster but that its return heralds a catastrophic prophecy.
Malekith, awakened by the Aether's release, turns Algrim into a Kursed and attacks Asgard. During the battle, Malekith and Algrim search for Foster, sensing that she contains the Aether. Thor's mother Frigga is killed protecting Foster, and Malekith and Algrim are forced to flee without Foster. Despite Odin's orders not to leave Asgard, Thor reluctantly enlists the help of Loki, who knows of a secret portal to Svartalfheim, where they will use Foster to lure and confront Malekith, away from Asgard. In return, Thor promises Loki vengeance on Malekith for killing their mother. With Volstagg and Sif stalling Asgardian soldiers and Fandral assisting their escape, Thor, Loki, and Foster head to Svartalfheim.
There, Loki tricks Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Foster, but Thor's attempt to destroy the exposed substance fails. Malekith merges with the Aether and leaves in his ship as Loki is fatally wounded while killing Algrim. Thor, cradling Loki in his arms, promises to tell their father of his sacrifice. Afterward, Thor and Foster discover another portal in a nearby cave and reunite in London with Lewis and Foster's mentor Dr. Erik Selvig — who was briefly institutionalized due to the mental trauma he suffered during Loki's attack on Earth. They learn that Malekith plans to restore the Dark Elves to dominance by unleashing the Aether at the center of the Convergence in Greenwich. Thor battles Malekith through various portals and across multiple worlds until one portal separates them, leaving Malekith unopposed on Earth. Thor returns in time to help his mortal comrades use their scientific equipment to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is crushed by his own damaged ship.
Thor returns to Asgard, where he declines Odin's offer to take the throne and tells Odin of Loki's sacrifice. As he leaves, Odin's form transforms into Loki, who is alive and impersonating Odin.
In a mid-credits scene, Volstagg and Sif visit the Collector and entrust the Aether to his care, commenting that with the Tesseract already in Asgard, having two Infinity Stones so close together would be unwise. As they leave, the Collector states his desire to acquire the other five Stones. In a post-credits scene, Foster and Thor reunite on Earth, while somewhere in London, a frost monster from Jotunheim—accidentally transported to Earth during the final battle—continues to run amok.
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor, an Avenger and the crown prince of Asgard, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.
- Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, an astrophysicist and Thor's love interest who is brought from Earth to Asgard by Thor after she is infected with a mysterious energy.
- Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor's adoptive brother and nemesis, based on the deity of the same name, who forms an uneasy alliance with Thor against the Dark Elves.
- Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the king of Asgard, father of Thor, and adoptive father of Loki, based on the deity of the same name, who disapproves of Jane Foster being in Asgard.
- Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig, Foster's mentor and colleague.
- Idris Elba as Heimdall, the all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the mythological deity of the same name.
- Christopher Eccleston as Malekith, the ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim.
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Algrim / Kurse, a Dark Elf and Malekith's trusted and loyal lieutenant who is transformed into a monstrous creature in order to destroy Thor.
- Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, a political science major who is interning for Foster. Her role in the film was expanded from the comic relief sidekick role she played in the first film.
- Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, a member of the Warriors Three, a group of three Asgardian adventurers who are among Thor's closest comrades, known for both his hearty appetite and wide girth.
- Zachary Levi as Fandral, a member of the Warriors Three, characterized as an irrepressible swashbuckler and romantic. Levi replaced Josh Dallas in the role due to Dallas's commitment on Once Upon a Time. Levi had been up for the role in the first film, but bowed out due to his commitment on Chuck.
- Tadanobu Asano as Hogun, a member of the Warriors Three, native of Vanaheim, primarily identified by his grim demeanor.
- Jaimie Alexander as Sif, an Asgardian warrior, Thor's childhood friend and Foster's romantic rival, based on the deity of the same name.
- Rene Russo as Frigga, the wife of Odin, queen of Asgard, mother of Thor, and adoptive mother of Loki, based on the mythological deity of the same name.
Additionally, Alice Krige portrays Eir, an Asgardian physician, while Talulah Riley plays an Asgardian nurse. Chris O'Dowd was cast as Richard, a suitor of Jane Foster's. Benicio del Toro, who plays Taneleer Tivan / The Collector in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy, appears in a mid-credits scene with Ophelia Lovibond, who plays his aide Carina. Jonathan Howard plays Ian Boothby, Darcy's intern. Tony Curran plays Bor, Odin's father, based on the deity of the same name. Clive Russell plays Tyr, based on the deity of the same name. Richard Brake portrays a captain in the Einherjar. Chris Evans makes an uncredited cameo appearance as Loki masquerading as Captain America, while Thor co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance as a patient in a mental ward.
Thor: The Dark World earned $206.4 million in North America and $438.4 million in other markets for a worldwide total of $644.8 million. It surpassed the gross of its predecessor after just 19 days of its release. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $139.4 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film.
Thor: The Dark World made an estimated $7.1 million in Thursday night showings, more than double the midnight gross of its predecessor. On Friday, November 8, 2013, the film topped the box office with $31.9 million (including Thursday night earnings), which is 25% higher than the original film's opening-day gross. Through Sunday, the film remained at the No. 1 spot with $85.7 million, which is a 30% increase over its predecessor's opening weekend. This was the largest November opening for a film distributed by Disney, surpassing The Incredibles. The film topped the box office in North America during its first two weekends, before being overtaken by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in its third weekend.
On its midweek opening day of Wednesday, October 30, 2013, Thor: The Dark World earned $8.2 million from 33 territories, including the United Kingdom and France, where it opened higher than its predecessor. During its first three days, the film earned $45.2 million, and by the end of the weekend, after expanding into three more territories, it totaled $109.4 million over five days, finishing in first place in all 36 countries. Its largest openings were recorded in China ($21.0 million), the United Kingdom ($13.8 million), and France ($9.94 million). It topped the box office outside North America on its first three weekends of release. In total earnings, its largest markets are China ($55.3 million), Russia and the CIS ($35.7 million), Brazil ($27.7 million), and the United Kingdom ($26.2 million).
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported a 66% approval rating with an average rating of 6.20/10, based on 282 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "It may not be the finest film to come from the Marvel Universe, but Thor: The Dark World still offers plenty of the humor and high-stakes action that fans have come to expect." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 54 out of 100 based on 44 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". It is currently the lowest-scoring film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on both websites. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an "A−" average, based on a grading scale ranging from A+ to F, an improvement on the "B+" received by the first film.