Why I’m Not Mad About Thor: The Dark World, I’m Just Disappointed
Ok, lets talk about Jane and the Aether, because I have some issues with that. This may surprise a lot of you, but I try not to be super nitpicky when it comes to movies like this. I’m fully aware that they’re comic book movies, they’re fun fantasy adventures for kids and grown ups alike. In a movie where the central conceit is aliens who look just like stylized viking warriors in a battle against evil space elves to stop the multi-verse from colliding, I’m fully aware of how absurd it seems for me to call any part of it “unrealistic”. So what I want you to know is I’m not arguing against any of the science or even logic of what’s happening, I’m perfectly happy to suspend my disbelief. What I’m trying to do with this (and most of my essays I post) is to take an in depth critique of the film as an audience member; that is, as the recipient of a story, I want to be able to take it in as a fully, wholly realized story. So. Let’s talk about Jane and the Aether.
First things first, one of the things that has bothered me since the very first time I watched Thor: The Dark World at its midnight premiere is where the fuck did Bor put the aether? It’s deep underground, yes, but is it under Svartalfheim? Is it under Earth? Is it under Asgard? For any of those situations: why? Also for any of those situations, how and why did it grab Jane in particular? These should all be very simple questions to answer within the plot with very little additional dialogue. It’s simply never ever brought up; like it was purposely ignored. Never in any other situation do the holes in the convergence show a kind of suction power. They’re more like doors that people travel through, no one is ever pulled in the way Jane is. If we give that to the aether, however, it again comes to the question of what its motivation is. Is it like the One Ring, that it’s trying to return to its master? Which I guess is Malekith, although he shouldn’t even really be its master if its an Infinity Stone, it should be too powerful to have some kind of attachment to any individual. Furthermore, if it is trying to return to Malekith, it’s really taking an incomprehensibly long way to get to him. After all, if it has the power to pull people into whatever realm that its in, it surely had a better means of transport than Jane Foster. If the idea was to be on Earth for Malekith to come get it (after all, thats where it needed to be for the Convergence, I guess), then it surely could have done more to stay on Earth. We saw it “protect” itself on two occasions; presumably, it could have done that when Thor attempted to take her to Asgard, or for that matter when she was taken prisoner by Odin. Point is, the movie wants to treat the Aether like a living thing, which I am all for, but then is treated like an inanimate object to be used by the protagonists.
Ok, ok, lets move past that. Let’s talk about how shittily the movie handled Jane’s “posession” or whatever that whole thing was supposed to be. In short, I was very disapppointed by the film’s use of Jane Foster. Though, if I’m being honest, she’s been poorly used throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, in The Avengers, she ggets shipped off to Norway so that she won’t be a distraction to our heroes. But the thhing that bugs me the most about her in Thor: TDW is the way the Marvel Execs had promoted her before the release as being such a strong force in the film and how integral she was to the defeat of Malekith. When in reality, for most of the movie, when she wasn’t fainting or swooning, she was being used as a prop or as bait by the other (male) characters. I really like Jane as a character, I like her attitude, I like that she has zero interpersonal skills, and I like her need to stand up to all authority even when (or especially when) its totally foolish to do so. But despite being the human vessel for this film’s evil macguffin, she has essentially nothing to do.
Jane gets posessed by a force of unmeasurable destruction and the only times we see hher use it are to push away some London beat cops and some Einherjar, the Asgardian equivalent of London beat cops. And then (and I really hate this part) on multiple occasions we see Jane have Aether influenced visions of semi-viscous liquid matter flying around space kinda destroying things but not really. Why? Are these premonitions? If so….why? Since when does the Aether show the future? And as I mentioned before, its not like the Aether itself has a particular need to fulfill Malekith’s plans. She tells us at one point that she sees Malekith’s plan to unleash the Aether in the convergence, but why does it show her this? In a film where so many characters are under-utilized and so many plot holes are left gaping, its hard to understand why they spent so much time and money with these Aether dreams.
I read somewhere (I wish I remembered the source now) that in an early draft of the script Jane, under the control of the Aether, destroys Svartalfheim as a display of its power. While I’m not sure that would make any sense with the story as it ended up, I like the idea of Jane, since she is after all possessed by an unimaginable destructive force, doing something unimaginably destructive. So, here’s my suggestion for how it should have played out (ps, I was not a fan of Selvig’s convergence neutralizing sticks):
Malekith releases the Aether at the center of the convergence. Having failed to stop it with the stupid pole things, Jane sacrifices herself by drawing the Aether back into her body. Having lost his powers, a weakened Malekith is sucked though a portal back to Svartalfheim. The Aether, being a force of its own, needs to destroy something and completely consumes Svartalfheim before allowing itself to be pulled into that little lamp thing (seriously, how did they like capture it at the end?). The surviving Dark Elves stand surrounding an injured Thor and exhausted Jane, staring with their blank, expressionless masks. Thor tells them their leader is gone, their world destroyed, but that if they renounce violence they can come to Asgard and he will find them a new home. Instead, silently, they each remove their masks, showing for the first time the manny faces of the Dark Elves, and one by one commit ritual suicide. Fade out into that scene of Jane, Ian, Darcy, and Selvig at the breakfast table, etc, etc.