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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has plenty of hit films in its catalog. But what is the definition of a “hit?” That can vary depending on the style and genre of the movie.

For an indie film produced on a $10 million budget, making $20 million with critical acclaim can seem like a major win. For the MCU, the standards are different. Those movies will likely all receive good to middling reviews and are almost certain to break the bank at the box office. 

With that standard in mind, not all the MCU movies have been hits. One that certainly missed the mark for many fans was the second film in the Thor series, Thor: The Dark World.

While it still cleaned up at the box office, it’s not beloved and is generally regarded as one of the weaker MCU offerings. Let’s take a closer look at what went wrong for the second installment following everyone’s favorite Norse god. 

The Thor series of films

Chris Hemsworth
Chris Hemsworth | Don Arnold/WireImage

The Thor series and character are immensely popular. It began with 2011’s Thor, followed up with 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, and culminated with Thor: Ragnarok.

While Thor set the table with the Norse god’s origin story, the true masterpiece of the series was Thor: Ragnarok. It had everything: a thrilling plot, plenty of humor, supporting roles from other MCU heroes, and a satisfying conclusion to the Thor trilogy. 

A fourth Thor film is currently in development: Thor: Love and Thunder, due out in 2022. 

The worst-ranked MCU films

The MCU is known for producing crowd-pleasers. They may not win Academy Awards, but they typically send the fans home happy and smiling. Still, over the course of making 23 films, they’re bound to have some misfires. It’s simply impossible not to based on the sheer enormity of what they’re attempting.

And no matter how many of their films are liked by mass audiences, some of them are going to rank near the bottom of the pile. 

The highest-ranked MCU entry on film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes is Black Panther at 96%, which is no surprise. That film was an artistic and commercial hit. The good news for the MCU is that no film has gone below 66% in terms of its score.

The bad news — at least for the Thor movies — is that Thor: The Dark World is the lowest-ranked at 66%. Its audience score is 76%. That’s better, but still unimpressive compared to the other MCU franchises. 

So why is it that this film scores so low in comparison to the others in the MCU? 

Why ‘Thor: The Dark World’ was doomed


Chris Hemsworth and Thor Are Basically the Same Person

A Reddit thread dedicated to discussing the film outlined what the problem was. While some believe the film was too “dark” compared to other MCU films, one poster argued that it wasn’t dark. It was just “poorly written.” Here’s what they had to say: 

“The story is incredibly dull and the tonal issues don’t help either. Darker films are fine It all depends on how good your characters are and if the story content demands that tone. Saying Dark films are bad isn’t true have you seen the Dark knight trilogy? Inception? Arrival? The Wolverine? Casino royale? Split? A quiet place? All of these films are Dark and great.”

Another viewing of the film reveals that it features plenty of the trademark humor seen in other MCU properties. Also, the different MCU films are known for varying slightly in tone from picture to picture.

For example, Avengers: Endgame strikes a different emotional chord than the original Iron Man.

If the film’s only issue was that it was dark, that wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that, according to at least some fans, it just wasn’t very well executed. Films can overcome many problems, but a bad script essentially makes a project doomed from the outset.