Well last post was Weighty and Meaningful, and today’s is decidedly short on any kind of serious import. It also contains mild spoilers for Thor: The Dark World, though nothing that isn’t covered in the prologue section.
So, Malekith. I’ve read a number of reviews so far about Thor 2. I really enjoyed the film – and the final action sequence manages to be both nail-bitingly tense and utterly hilarious, without either aspect sabotaging the other. One thing that turns up in a number of reviews, for example Bob Chipman’s here, is that the principal villain, Malekith, is just a bit of demon-kingery, intending to destroy the universe for no real reason other than to make the plot work – all bombast and no real sense. I’m not entirely sure why, but I feel the driving need to fight in the poor chap’s corner. Malekith makes perfect sense, and his motives and actions are entirely humanly plausible, given the means at his disposal.
Basically, the backstory runs like this: in the beginning there was a universe of darkness and it was ruled over by the dark elves, Malekith’s people. Then all this light and matter and crap started getting out of hand, and made stars and planets and the nine realms, and the dark elves decided they weren’t having any of that. They got hold of a weapon that could, if used very precisely, destroy everything and return the universe to the dark state they remembered so fondly. There was a big war and they got a kicking. However, the weapon survived, and so did Malekith and a few of his lads, and now it’s that festive time again and the dark elves have a very long naughty list.
I did rather like Malekith as a villain. Christopher Eccleston (under a ton of makeup) did a good job at giving him dignity and gravitas whilst not at any point detracting from the complete batsh*t insanity of the character. The critics I’ve come across are mostly, “Well, it’s Loki’s film”, and, hey, well, Tom Hiddleston, right? However fter the general “bah!” reaction to Malekith, I got to thinking.
The thing that makes it all look like motiveless mad villainy is the weapon, the Ether. That gives Malekith’s scheme its all-encompassing crazy scale. If he didn’t have it, then probably he would be in a room somewhere under a blanket, lord of a dark domain the size of his bed. With the Ether, he can put the blanket over the universe and revert things back to the good old days. And that’s the thing. Because there are a lot of human beings, often very highly-placed and powerful, who pine for the good old days – frequently good old days that never existed. If you went to someone whose star was on the wane, whose way of life is under threat because people who were once either absent, or at least decently under control, and gave him a device that would rid the world of everything that did not belong to that supposed golden age – consequence free – then I reckon they’d do it. Go to a modern Klansman and say, “push this button and turn the clock back to before the civil war”, say. Go to a right wing politician of any nation and tell them they could undo all the changes that have happened since their nation’s “glory days”, whenever they were. They’d do it. No matter the cost in lives and lost progress, I reckon there are plenty of people who are playing nice right now, because they don’t have the means to achieve their impossible ends. Give them that magic wand, and they’d wave it until it broke in half. Malekith is not a demon king, he’s a human given the chance to achieve every grumbling conservative’s dream, a return to Good Old Values. The only difference is that in his case it’s a literal darkness.
OK, didn’t come out quite as light as I was thinking. Next week – kittens!(1)
(1) No kittens. Seriously, nobody sane would trust me with kittens.