If there were any possible justification Marvel could have for giving Loki his own movie, Thor: The Dark World would certainly be the one. He certainly isn’t called the god of mischief for nothing. He may be Thor’s evil adopted brother who tried to take over our world, but he does possess a malevolent, persuasive charm that’s sometimes hard to resist. Without his presence, the pic probably wouldn’t have been as good, if not better than the first.

Chris Hemsworth reprises his iconic role as the intrepid Norse god of thunder, facing an enemy considerably more powerful and dangerous than his wayward brother. His antagonist, Malekith, attempted to thrust the world into eternal darkness a very long time ago, with an evil, wavering substance called the Aether. Fortunately Thor’s grandfather, King Bor and the gallant forces of Asgard, promptly prevented this widespread ravage, thus saving the universe. Problem is, when this all powerful force was wrenched from Malekith’s hands and in turn was put into permanent suspended animation, the aether was not destroyed,but hidden-on earth. You would think that as vast as the cosmos is, why would the Asgardians hide the thing on our planet?

Astrophysicist Jane Foster just happens to be on planet earth. For over two years she’s been trying to figure out why her Norse god of a boyfriend hasn’t gotten back to her. She has no need to worry any longer when a series of experiments accidentally puts her in contact with the concealed Aether which decides to literally inhabit her body, thus awakening Malekith, and his fervent desire to retrieve the power source. Her connection to Thor and Asgard, not to mention father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and mother Frigga (Rene Russo) is deepened considerably.

Taking the reins from Thor’s Kenneth Branaugh, director Alan Taylor wisely ups the proverbial ante from the original. With the exceptional condition of Thor’s enlisting his errant brother Loki to battle Malekith’s forces, Taylor has greatly intensified the drama as well.

Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster has not changed a bit, although she has tried to live some kind of life besides gallant scientific research. She’s still a woman obsessed with a mission – and with Thor. No one can argue that she was born to be a scientist. So needless to say that she’s not too upset when Thor  she takes her on an unexpected trip to Asgard.

Foster is aided once again by her two stalwart colleagues, Darcy (Kat Dennings) who’s zany as ever, and Stellan Skarsgard’s Eric Selvig. But before the latter can be of any asistance, he needs to work on some serious issues that have apparently manifested themselves between now and the last movie.

It’s no surprise that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki nearly steals the sequel. His roug-ish  behavior is irresistibly funny, interacting with his co-stars in various ways. The scenes he shares with Thor, dramatically or dynamically, are priceless, making Thor The Dark World just as a much a showcase for the god of mischief as well as the god of thunder. His subtle duplicity keeps you guessing what he’ll do next.

After his film debut Palookaville in 1995, and then sticking primarily to television, director Alan Taylor forges a major come back to the big screen. His visual style fits perfectly with all things Marvel, making him an invaluable addition to the club. Like every other film maker who Has helmed a Marvel pic, he knows the importance of balancing drama, action and those incredible special f/x. Thor The Dark World is not only a profitable coup for him, it could be the pathway to more directing jobs inside the Marvel franchise- prayerfully.