Chris Hemsworth in 'Thor: The Dark World' (Photo: Marvel Studios)
Remember the Frost Giants from the first "Thor"? Yeah, they were wimps. The god of thunder has a much more dangerous foe to face in "Thor: The Dark World," the sequel to 2011's stand-alone adventure and the official second installment of Marvel's Phase Two following next month's "Iron Man 3."
The first teaser for the film immediately starts off with a sense of impending doom as a flock of crows -- never a good sign -- fly across the screen as Anthony Hopkins' Odin delivers a grave set-up in voiceover, claiming that before the universe there was a great Darkness ... a Darkness that has survived and, now, returned.
The "Darkness" Odin speaks of is actually the latest comic book supervillain team to be introduced to the Marvel Universe: the mighty army of the Dark Elves. In Marvel mythology, the Dark Elves come from Svartalfheim, a heavily wooded world of castles and villages (think Peter Jackson's Middle-earth) and one of the Nine Realms.
The Elves are lorded over by Malekith the Accursed (played by "Doctor Who" alum Christopher Eccleston in "The Dark World"), a creature who acquired his position of authority through cunning and deceit and whose villainous history involves unholy alliances with Thor's half-brother Loki and enslaving legions of Earthlings.
Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed (Photo: Marvel Studios)
We only get fleeting glimpses of Malekith and the Dark Elves in the teaser, but they're presented as an ominous and formidable threat to both Earth and Thor's home world of Asgard, spreading their dark shadow across the land, making the weather all topsy-turvy and instigating the kind of disaster-film destruction that would make Roland Emmerich proud.
It's the threat of the Dark Elves that gets most of the teaser's attention, though we do get a look at Thor's re-courting of his mortal ladylove, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), whom he takes to Asgard seemingly within three seconds of their reunion on Earth. We get the idea that Jane has trouble adjusting to life in another dimension, especially one that looks like a CG re-imagining of the Mount Olympus set in the original "Clash of the Titans," though romantic culture shock quickly takes a back seat to Malekith's rather impressionable invasion.
The most satisfying aspect of the teaser comes at the end, where Thor turns to the only person he feels can help him face the Dark Elves: his imprisoned half-brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), whose long time in the slammer has given him heavy metal rock-star hair and probably an even more seething desire to spread trickery and chaos. Thor warns Loki that he'll be killed for any betrayal, which the God of Mischief takes in stride: "When do we start?" he asks.
If you're also getting a "Game of Thrones" vibe from the trailer, that's to be expected. Director Alan Taylor, who takes over the reins from Kenneth Branagh, directed six episodes of the sword-swinging HBO series before getting this gig.
Unfortunately, we don't start until "Thor: The Dark World" hits theaters on November 8, which now seems like a very long time from now.
Check out the live red carpet premiere of "Iron Man 3" streaming direct from Hollywood on tonight at 8:30 p.m ET/5:30 p.m. PT right here on Yahoo! Movies: movies.yahoo.com/iron-man-3-live/
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