Marvel Cinematic Universe rankings can get controversial. Fans will flip-flop on whether Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame lands higher on their top fives, while debate surrounding the podium order of the Captain America trilogy always gets polarizing.
Most personal rankings are completely unique, but fans seem to unanimously agree on one film's position: Thor: The Dark World.
If The Dark World doesn't land dead last, most have it in the bottom five. Between a forgettable villain and a lackluster plot, Thor's second solo adventure left a lot to be desired.
Luckily for those wanting more, Thor: Ragnarok gave the God of Thunder a complete makeover. Fans came to adore the goofy, lovable Chris Hemsworth much more than the stoic, brooding version of Thor they got in the first half of the franchise.
While Thor: The Dark World didn't capture everyone's hearts, the finished product was a much more polished version than what was originally shot.
FEIGE OPENS UP ABOUT DARK WORLD STRUGGLES
You don't make $23 billion at the worldwide box office without making a few stumbles along the way.
Before Marvel Studios was pumping out billion dollar pictures on the regular, the young franchise was grinding to ensure each future installment retained the millions of new fans they made after 2012's The Avengers hit theaters. The year after the ambitious crossover saw the franchise release Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, two highly profitable movies that ended up somewhat unfavorable among critics.
Speaking on the latter, a new excerpt from the upcoming The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe book revealed numerous behind-the-scenes struggles that came with making Thor: The Dark World.
After principal photography wrapped, veteran MCU writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely as well as The Avengers director Joss Whedon were brought in to rewrite scenes and develop new ones.
Later that summer, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige assembled the inner circle of Marvel Studios producers into a Manhattan Beach conference room to "deconstruct the movie," with Feige noting that it became "a sea of purple on the wall" with all the new ideas:
"We had purple-colored index cards, and every time a new idea came up, we put it up...And suddenly it's a sea of purple on the wall."
With the reworked film planned out, core Marvel Studios producer Louis D'Esposito calculated The Dark World would require over a month of reshoots:
"That's right, only 35 days of additional photography. We're the best in the business... High five. 35 days of reshoots."
After two consecutive billion-dollar films in The Avengers and Iron Man 3, Feige said the Thor: The Dark World process kept Marvel Studios humble as it ventured further into Phase 2:
"If you're the best in the business, you wouldn't need to do 35 days of reshoots, for crying out loud. So, the 'best in the biz' [saying] is also part of the self-deprecating thing that, I think, keeps us humble as we keep doing this."
A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE FOR THE MCU
Even though Thor: The Dark World lands low on most fans' MCU rankings, the finished product was much more polished than what was originally shot.
No one cares more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Kevin Feige. His intricate plans and patient storytelling have crafted a cinematic achievement that will never be replicated. Motions like rewriting The Dark World only emphasize how much he cares.
In 2013, Marvel Studios was on top of the world. Not only did The Avengers receive rave reviews, but it entered the podium for the highest worldwide grosses of all time, at the time. It followed that up with another billion-dollar installment in Iron Man 3, and while the reception was polarizing, it still raked in an incredible box office haul.
Entering the summer, Feige and company could have easily gotten complacent. Regardless of the issues, The Dark World was going to make money. Instead of releasing a cash-grab, Feige and his inner circle worked tirelessly to salvage the sequel. Dedicating over a month to additional photography is unprecedented in Hollywood as traditional reshoots take a couple of weeks.
Considering the poor reviews Thor: The Dark World received regardless, was all the extra work worth it?
The short answer is a resounding yes. Even though the film doesn't crack any top tens, it's still a cohesive movie. If Marvel pushed out something it wasn't confident in, it risked losing the millions of new fans brought on board after 2012's team-up.
Despite the financial success, Marvel showed it listened to its audience by willingly pivoting the Thor franchise. Bringing in critically-acclaimed director Taika Waititi reinvented the God of Thunder so successfully that Marvel Studios committed the character to a fourth solo installment, a first in MCU history.
The greatest lessons come in the worst mistakes. While Marvel Studios might've enjoyed a smoother production process with Thor: The Dark World, the humbling experience laid the groundwork for what is today the most successful franchise in film history.
Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor later in Phase 4 when Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on May 6, 2022.