Thor: The Dark World grossed $632 million at the global box office. Those aren’t Iron Man 3 numbers: Robert Downey Jr.’s post-Avengers outing grossed almost twice as much last year. But the Thorquel earned the third-highest box office tally in Marvel Studios history. So, yes, there will be a sequel. Marvel announced that Craig Kyle (a producer on the first two Thors) will co-write the next Thunder God movie with Christopher Yost (who co-wrote The Dark World.) There’s no release date yet, but given what we know about Marvel’s future plans and the general 2+ year turnaround between sequels, it’s likely that Thor 3 won’t hit until 2016.
The Thor series has seen the most creative turnover of Marvel’s various franchises. Thor 1 has five credited screenwriters, and only one of them — the late Don Payne — did any work on The Dark World. Four other screenwriters were credited with The Dark World, including Captain America franchise scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. (Joss Whedon also rewrote a couple scenes.) A lot of cooks in the kitchen, which maybe explains why the Thor movies were all over the place. Some things (Loki!) worked great; other things were a bit fuzzy. I feel like I have a personal stake in the advancement of this franchise, partially because I love Norse mythology but mainly because this is the first comic book I ever purchased, so I’m a ride-or-die Thor fan for life. Forthwith, my wish list for Thor 3: Ragnarok (working title.)
Make Loki The Real Bad Guy: Dark World was one of those “enemy of my enemy is my friend” sequels, where the hero has to join forces with his nemesis to fight off an even more dangerous villain. This led to some nice moments between nominal star Chris Hemsworth and actual star Tom Hiddleston; indeed, it’s possible to read The Dark World as the story of Loki deciding whether to be good or evil. The ending cinched it — Spoilers, obvs — revealing that Loki had replaced his stepfather Odin, taking over the Throne of Asgard. (It’s not clear what happened to Odin, but when the movie came out, Anthony Hopkins seemed pretty okay with not returning for a third go-round.)
Among a certain kind of hyper-engaged fan, Loki might actually be the most popular character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — a popularity that Hiddleston seems to relish and gleefully feed. The natural instinct would be to soften Loki’s edges, and to once again introduce a new species of Make-Up Monsters Gone Wild, like Thor 1‘s Frost Giants or Thor 2‘s Dark Elves. Probably the most commonly-demanded villain for a Thor sequel is Surtur, the mega-demon whose purpose is to bring an end to, like, everything. In the comics, Surtur’s arrival actually led Thor and Loki to, yes, team up for the common good.
But where’s the fun in that? Let’s give Hiddleston the chance to go Full Lannister as the main villain of Thor 3. The movie absolutely should introduce some colorful new villainous characters — more on that in a second — but Loki should be their ringleader. (Even in The Avengers, he was just a forward representative for Thanos.) By the time Thor 3 hits, Loki will have had months or years to secure his power in the Golden Realm. Don’t you want to see what post-Loki dystopian Asgard looks like? Wouldn’t a Thor movie pack a bigger wallop if it came down to Thor vs. Loki, instead of Thor vs. That Guy With The Ears And The Red Stuff?
Enter the Enchantress and a Romantic Quadrangle: I don’t want to be controversial here, but Chris Hemsworth is not an unattractive man. His body has a somewhat impressive amount of muscles. His eyes are a blue-ish color that may or may not remind you of waves crashing on some distant tropical shore. He’s not a troll, is what I’m getting at here. And some of the best parts of the first Thor focused on the swoony romance between the God of Thunder and confirmed human female Jane Foster. They had nice teasing chemistry — especially impressive since Hemsworth is the size of ten cubic Portmans.
Dark World ever-so-briefly hinted at some romantic complications: The Warrior Woman Sif is carrying a centuries-old torch for Thor. Sif makes an ideal romantic rival for the brainier Jane. The prospect of a high-fantasy Some Kind of Wonderful looked promising, with Sif in the Mary Stuart Masterson friend zone. But the way-too-busy Dark World just introduced the idea and then forgot about it.
I say turn Thor 3 into a Hemsworth Chemistry showcase, with not one nor two but three leading ladies. In the comics, Amora the Enchantress is a wild-card nemesis for the Asgardian, a powerful and seductive sorceress who can enslave a man just by kissing him. She’s sort of Thor’s Catwoman — sometimes a villain, sometimes a love interest. Let’s throw her into the mix as a Loki lieutenant. Maybe, after a couple years of relative tranquility, Jane gets suspicious that Thor has returned to his old wild-child ways. At that precise moment, in comes the Enchantress, using all her powers of seduction to beguile our poor Thunder God. Then Sif shows up on Earth, trying to convince Thor that Odin has been acting strange.
The long-term goal here would be for a three-way fight between Sif (using a sword), the Enchantress (using magic), and Jane (using, like, science.) To play Amora, cast Margot Robbie and tell her she was too subtle in Wolf of Wall Street.
Stay Off Earth As Much As Possible: Guys, our planet is boring. It’s also positively brimming with superheroes. Leave Midgard to Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, and the Netflix B-List All-Stars. To me, the best Thor stories are the ones that take advantage of the character’s cosmic side, with stories that combine high fantasy and space-faring science-fiction. So far, the other realms of the Thor series have been pretty stripped-down: The Frost Giants live in a giant ice mansion, the Dark Elves’ world was a ruin. Why not take us to a city besides Asgard?
Or hell, why not really hit the cosmic accelerator and send Thor to battle with and on Ego the Living Planet? Marvel Studios has been very careful about Weird Comic Stuff, doling out only very occasional doses of Jack Kirby/Jim Starlin gonzo-cosmic stuff. But by the time Thor 3 hits, we’ll already have seen Guardians of the Galaxy and we’ll be barreling towards Avengers 3. Perfect time to send Thor into deep space — or some other corner of the Marvel cosmos — on a mission.
No More Kat Dennings. Darcy the intern is adorable, really. But Dark World was overstuffed as it is. Give her a Marvel One-Shot, why not!