The Marvel Universe after THOR: THE DARK WORLD…

Saw THOR: THE DARK WORLD twice this weekend and (apparently =) enjoyed it mucho. A good story, a new/original (as far as my Marvel comics memory can recall) WMD, and some great interaction between Thor and Loki. A very cool-looking and interesting movie-realization of the dark elves (might’ve given me some flashbacks to the STAR TREK reboot, tho), particularly Malekith (a clever way to re-create the comic’s version’s harlequin appearance) and Kurse/Algrim, all of whom I first met under Simonson’s amazing THOR watch. Better, funner writing and pacing than the first movie, and some truly great fun with wormholes. =)

That’s as much as I’m gonna jot right now in the way of a “review.” What I really want to get to before I forget anything are the epilogues…

Beware. What follows is a SPOILER-ful rambling on the epilogues and revelations (to me, at least =) of the second THOR film…

I was *really* hoping to get a tease of Coulson sucking down some mead and exchanging headbutts with Viking heroes in Valhalla, or haunting the wastes of Niffelheim, perhaps trying to get a message to one of the Asgardian warriors. Alas, no. But then, any Asgardian time of Coulson’s should’ve been spent in the past compared to the timeline of this movie anyway. O well.

EPILOGUE 1 (mid-credits).

We see Volstagg and Sif meet The Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro (! =), to deliver to him the Aether for safe keeping. When The Collector asks why Odin should want him to hold it, Volstagg explains that Odin thinks it too dangerous to keep TWO of the INFINITY STONES in one place. The two Stones he is referring to are the Aether(!?) and the Tesseract(!?). On the surface, good thinking, as Asgard and Odin’s weapons vault have been compromised twice within two years. Higher form of war and all that.

I hafta say, on first blush, I don’t love that the Infinity Gems are being recreated/retconned for the movies. I kinda love the crazy Marvel mythic-ness of it all as I have come to know it thru comic books, y’know? But, hey, this *is* a new universe. It deserves some myths of its own, adapted from what’s come before. So, I’ll allow it. =)

Earlier in the film, when Odin fills Thor and Jane in on the origin (basically unknown) and nature (a destructive force) of the Aether, he mentions that there are relics that survived from before the creation of this universe, and the Aether is one of them. He mentions that the other relics all took the forms of stones, but the Aether alone is fluid. He’s flipping thru an Asgardian storytome while explaining, and the imagery on the pages might actually describe the stones. There is a rainbow of columns on one left-hand page, with items or runes maybe at the top of them, and on the facing page (I think), the Aether in the hands of Malekith. I’m sure someone must’ve gotten a screenshot out of a screening by now, but I’m guessing that they don’t give anything significant up, or the Asgardians would already know it. Maybe a puzzle of some kind that reveals the locations of the stones? MAYbe? But I didn’t notice anything that would obviously be that.

Would’ve been sweet to see a gilded animated GIF of the gauntlet on one of those Asgardian webpages. =)

Back to the epilogue: Gotta say, the Collector could’ve chosen a more impressive sector of his cosmic man cave to hold court with Asgardian emissaries. The production value on the set and specimens seemed quite low compared to the rest of the film, or MAYbe just developed from a seriously divergent design sense? Maybe it’ll get Lucas’d up in the DVD release? Or perhaps the Collector’s being re-imagined as something more of a cosmic hoarder. =)

In the comics, the Collector is an Elder of the Universe, one of the I-can’t-remember-how-many longest lived beings in the cosmos, each of whom in their old age has become unofficial patron alien of some aspect of existence or another. The Collector collects. He prizes endangered and one-of-a-kind items or beings of the cosmos. In the comic book universe he maintains a world of various artificial environments that are homes to samples or the last of thousands of species. In the comic book universe, the Elders for a time were the keepers of the Infinity Gems and the Collector possessed the yellow Reality gem.

In the THOR epilogue, the case that contains the Aether glows RED. The red stone was identified in the comics as the Power gem, which enhances the wielder’s strength, super-abilities, and enables energy manipulation. I guess the Aether kinda does that, altho the fluid Aether itself seems to be the manipulated energy, or the medium for it? Anyhow… The Collector accepts the Aether and once his guests have gone, the Collector reflects to himself, “One down… Five to go.”

I’m a little confused as to how the Aether was transportable in this hand-held case. It does appear to be a miniature version of the containment device that once held the Aether (a monument of two black stones/boxes, with the Aether permitted to radiate from a tight space between them and apparently contact anyone who happens to get close enough to it). Would’ve been nice to see an Asgardian clean-up crew on Svartalfheim vacuuming up the Aether from the wreckage of Malekith’s Dark Elf flagship and Odin and Thor or some other Asgardian energy manipulators drawing it into this containment device. I mean, really, where’d the Aether go once Malekith died? What is the natural state of the Aether? Before the Dark Elves was it spread infinitesimally thin throughout the cosmos? Is it some aspect of actual dark matter, an invisible mass and source of gravity? Is it sentient? Once it had jumped into Jane Foster, it seemed to wake Malekith and his army. Or, no—it was the approach of the convergence that woke them, right? Or both. Sure, why not both? The Aether sensed the convergence and woke them. It defended itself/its host.

What’s up w Dark Elf weaponry, specifically the Kursed and their dark matter/black hole grenades? Are they based on or powered by the Aether? Zola, Hydra, and Project Pegasus were able to derive technology based on the energy of the Tesseract. Loki’s staff seemed to contain a fraction if its power as well. That’s a cool but dangerous idea. That portions of the Infinity Stones might be split off and harnessed, right? Cuz 5% of infinity is still infinity, right?

Bringing the Collector in sets off my GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY alarm.

(Maybe that’s already a known? I do my best to avoid any pre-release buzz or news. I had no idea that Robert Redford is in WINTER SOLDIER until I saw the trailer before THOR 2. =)

And for me, it also puts some more movie-time/distance between the present and an ultimate confrontation with Thanos, and that is a Good Thing as far as I’m concerned. Thanos is one of The Biggest Bads, and throwing the Avengers and Guardians at him will be awesome, but best done after they’ve gone a few rounds with other bads (Ultron and the Elders).

EPILOGUE 2 (post-credits).

Thor beams in from Asgard to Jane Foster’s apartment in London and they immediately smooch it up. Sorry, Sif. It’s a good thing that Jane went out to the balcony to meet him and not Eric cuz he steps out of the beam and just goes for it. =)

Aside. Heimdall: Asgard’s Montgomery Scott.

Then, a cut to the abandoned shipping warehouse where the first Nine-Worlds-Conjunction wormholes appeared, shipping containers now stacked normally. A small flock of pigeons zips across the scene, followed by a bounding Asgardian beastie chasing after them and trying to snap a few up in its jaw. I’m pretty certain it wormholed in from Loki’s homeland, the realm of the frost giants, Jotunheim.

I suspect that the AGENTS OF SHIELD will end up being assigned clean-up on this little fella. Might be an opportunity to get more of the Coulson backstory if it is in fact entangled with an afterlife stay in Asgard. It really does seem like a kind of frost giant canine in its behavior. Would AGENTS be up for training such a creature? Does Coulson get to saddle up on a frost hound? =)

AGENTS OF SHIELD.

In the course of the final battle between Thor and Malekith, the convergence peaks, allowing all manner of creatures and artifacts to jump back and forth between the Nine Worlds. There might be a more than a frosty pooch to pick up after. RED SKULL! =)

I’m very hopeful/curious about the possibility of an untold story behind two Royal Air Force pilots who ended up following their rockets thru a wormhole to Vanaheim, home to Hogun (the not really all that Grim?). Anyone else think it conspicuous that the movie took the time out to show Thor giving Hogun leave to stay in Vanaheim? And then flash to his face as the jet fighters enter Vanaheim’s airspace? SOMEthing must’ve happened in that five to ten minutes or so, right? I’m hoping that the AGENTS will follow up with the pilots, either as a matter of course, or as a case when some wacko phenomenon manifests itself around them.

Hrm… Another way to get the AGENTS more tightly woven to movie events would be to have them stumble upon one of the other Gems. Ohhh… The Soul Gem! That might be a final piece to a Coulson puzzle… OR a VISION puzzle! Soul Gem to turn Pinocchio into a real Agent! Wack! =)

How would they end up working a Gem case? An Asgardian delegation to another Elder/Gem trustee might be intercepted or randomly attacked by enemies of Asgard, or perhaps the Centipede guys, or AIM or HYDRA. If they’re capable of hacking SHIELD they might get some up-to-date intel that with some ESPer and Extremis help could give them the advantage of surprise in an attack on a couple of Asgardians in Midgard airspace, right? Anyhow, the Asgardians would smite them, but perhaps not without losing their package.

But to whom on Earth would Odin entrust such an object of power?

How about Doctor Strange? Awwh yeah! =)

WHAT ABOUT THE INFINITY GAUNTLET?

Okay, it *would* be kind of interesting to have the gems materialize or be (re)discovered over the course of several Marvel movies. This seems to mean that the gauntlet that we saw in the first THOR does not have anything to do with the Infinity Stones/Gems (seems like the movie universe may be calling them stones). Which is not to say that it isn’t immensely powerful, cuz it *is* kept in Odin’s weapons vault after all, but it probably doesn’t give its wearer complete control over the existence the way the Infinity Gauntlet does.

Altho, I suppose at some point predating Bor’s rule of Asgard, and the rebellion of the Dark Elves, someone might have possessed the Aether, the Tesseract, and the four other pre-existence relics/stones and fashioned the gauntlet to channel and combine their powers. Some great ancient powers must have defeated him and separated the actual relics from the gauntlet and gems (the gauntlet in the first THOR movies has gems embedded in it).

It really *shouldn’t* be the Infinity Gauntlet in the vault. It *is* too dangerous to have two gems in close proximity, much less all six together in the gauntlet, so really, that thing we saw in the vault can’t be the Infinity Gauntlet as we know it, because that would be just too plain irresponsible, right? But… Maybe the gems can’t be removed from the Gauntlet?

Maybe it fell into this universe from a parallel one. Heh. SPIDER-MAN and/or the X-MEN movie universe! =)

Or, maybe it’s a paradox and is never created or destroyed, but exists in a closed loop in time. Sometime in the future, someone will don the gauntlet and it will draw the six relics (and/or their power) into its gems and make its wearer all-powerful. When the wearer decides to remake the universe to his own liking, he goes back to the beginning, before the Big Bang, but is pursued by the universe’s champions (or they are kept alive by him/his ego, as witnesses), and they defeat him. One of them uses the power of the gauntlet to trigger the Big Bang as it was meant to occur, return the champions to when and where they belong, and then scatter the six relics across existence. depowering it in the process. The Gauntlet ends up being, and always having been, instrumental in the creation of the universe! Done and done! =)

Keep on keepin on~