With the release of this year’s highly successful Doctor Strange, Marvel Studios continues to keep their house intact, imploring various genres and sub-genres of storytelling to deeply impact the world of cinema. Taking a look back at Phase 2 entries, the post-Avengers Marvel Cinematic Universe did take a step in the sci-fi direction, especially with Thor: The Dark World.
Let’s take a look at this sequel, full of heavy nods to none other than the largest geekdom franchise this side of the galaxy: Star Wars.
Dark Elves // Star Troopers
The first few characters introduced in Thor 2 come in the form of innumerable, faceless troopers serving under the villainous dark elf Malekith. These dark elves, each identical to next and armed primarily with a laser-based rifles, are also similarly colored and equally as expendable as the hopeless Storm Troopers of the Star Wars universe.
A mere coincidence perhaps that these two militias of masked (potentially mindless) soldiers seem similar at first glance. After all, the same could be said about the suddenly-faceless, emotionally cold redesigns of the PanAm Peacekeepers reintroduced in the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. But the list only grows from here.
Malekith // Darth Sidious
Take a second to revel in the pale majesty of the seemingly immortal dark elf Malekith. Almost stuck to one useless emotion and evil just for the sake of it, this Infinity Stone-searching leader of the mythical dark elves seems to conjure no immediate resemblance to Darth Sidious — at first.
Take into consideration their positions of power, however, and the treasures they seek. Malekith and Sidious play the long game: the former for the Aether/Reality Stone after battling three generations of Asgardian royalty (King Bor, his son Odin, and his own son, the mighty Thor), the latter for ultimate power in all the universe, by wiping out the Jedi Council of Coruscant, taking on an apprentice who would knowingly out-power him, and having two planet-destroying Death Star battle stations constructed some thirty years later.
These boys (old men?) are pasty, patient, and obsessed with power.
Lt. Algrim Is Kurse // Anakin Skywalker Is Darth Vader
What evil lord seeking unlimited power would be successful without his right-hand man? Beyond all the expendable dark elf troopers at Malekith’s disposal, he also had Lieutenant Algrim, a proven aide blindly loyal to his master’s cause, eventually becoming the powerful entity known as Kurse to further Malekith’s plans for power and revenge.
Darth Sidious had the same ace up his own sleeve. He needed more than his similarly recycled Storm Troopers to carry the Empire he built. By the third Star Wars episode, Revenge of the Sith, the “chosen one,” Jedi Anakin Skywalker, was virtually wrapped around the finger of the seemingly kind, cautiously understanding, and dangerously powerful Senator Palpatine, the all-too humane facade Darth Sidious hid behind for years. Young Anakin was already going by his new Sith name Darth Vader, even before being transformed and fitted into the iconic helmet, mask, and battle armor we know him for.
Asgardian Soldiers // Jedi Knights
Here’s a more interesting nod to the Star Wars universe — one that cries of a galactic redesign of the Asgardian armies of Odin to match the soulless dark elves, in all their pseudo-Storm Trooper glory. Notice during both scenes of training and actual battle, Asgardian swords sparkle and glow as if emitting a blade of contained beam weaponry. It’s hard to not compare these blades of light to the traditional weapon of a Jedi Knight: the lightsaber.
It is especially compelling to consider Attack of the Clones as a point of reference for these new Asgardian soldier redesigns. The final battle scene of the second Star Wars episode showcases what seems to be an innumerable amount of trained Jedi, lightsabers activated, engaging in a chaotic melee with an army of battle droids. The opening of Thor 2 bears strong resemblance to this scene, as troughs of Asgardian warriors wielding light-blades slay dark elves with their red-beam emitting rifles.
Perhaps the weakest of the nods, this still speaks to the connections the film is attempting to make to Star Wars, especially considering the first Thor film in 2011 contained close-to-no noticeable elements of science fiction, let alone massive starships. I had assumed the numerous and sudden sci-fi elements were intentionally presented to create a bridge of anticipation between this film and Marvel Studios’ then-upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. That theory was confirmed when the film concluded with a cameo from Benicio del Toro’s “The Collector,” a character who would go on to play a major role in Guardians. Consider also, however, the purpose massive starships have in the Star Wars universe…
…storing troopers and smaller spacecraft. Foundationally, one could theorize Thor 2 had created its own version of Star Destroyers. Before we stray too far off into a forum of suggestion, let’s return to more tangible references.
Frigga’s Death // Vader’s Death
Quite possibly the most powerful reference to the Star Wars universe was the funeral of the slain queen of Asgard, Frigga. The people of Asgard, civilians and warriors alike, paid traditional respects to the wife of Odin by sending her soul off into the great beyond, her serene boat riding down an eventual waterfall, set ablaze with her peaceful but lifeless body occupying it. Within the beautiful conflagration, we get a quick close-up, right-side profile of Frigga. This is just too familiar to pass up.
Darth Vader finally succumbed to his wounds, both in battling his son Luke in Return of the Jedi, and eventually rescuing him from the clutches of Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious by enduring his powerful Force Lighting. Luke then took his father’s dead body back to the forest planet Endor for a proper Jedi send-off, setting him atop a bed of wood and setting it ablaze. Here, we also got — check this out — a quick close-up, right-side profile of Vader as he burned. Come on.
Thor’s Right Hand // Luke’s Right Hand
Thor 2 depicts a scene in which an ill-fated attempt to destroy both Malekith and the Infinity Stone begins with the deceptive play that Loki has betrayed Thor and wishes to align himself with the dark elves. Loki angrily cuts off Thor’s right hand with his signature dagger, but it all turns out to be a ploy as Loki, a master illusionist, projects Thor’s hand back, and the two continue with their plan, killing Algrim/Kurse in the process, but allowing Malekith to leave with the Aether/Reality Stone in his possession.
Okay, COME ON.
Every Star Wars geek knows somebody gets a right-side limb cut off in all current Star Wars episodes except The Force Awakens and The Phantom Menace. Even if you only remember the saga’s most iconic laser-amputation from The Empire Strikes Back, this scene might make you experience some cinematic deja vu!
“Go… my son.”
This is ridiculous.
I literally remember sitting in the theater, watching Thor 2 for the first time, thinking to myself how funny it would be if Odin quoted one of Darth Vader’s final lines to his son in Return of the Jedi, saying “Go….my son” as a final farewell.
And I kid you not, it happened. Odin said it. Not only did he say the words to his own son Thor, but he specifically said them with that dramatic pause between “Go” and “my son” that Vader used, requesting Luke to save his own life and escape the crumbling second Death Star they were both inside. Both films ended shortly thereafter.
Did I miss anything? Is this list completely absurd, or were the references so obvious that they didn’t even need an article? If that’s the case, why are you reading this? Join the conversation by answering or asking any and all questions below!
Article by contributor Justin Williams.