Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks. Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/thor-the-dark-world-review-732f243eea09
Before I say anything, know that I haven't been disappointed by any of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So when I say that Thor: The Dark World is way better than the original Thor, I want you to understand that I'm not hating on the original; the second is just so good!
I think that part of it is that in the first movie we watched him wandering around on Earth for quite a while without his hammer, which really isn't as cool as watching Thor bringing order to the nine realms and celebrating with his fellow Asgardians. The enemy he faces is also much more high-stakes than before, even when compared to The Avengers. This is only possible because they largely moved away from Earth in this movie, though it does play a large role towards the end.
We also get to see a lot more of Thor's family, and how Loki's actions during The Avengers are affecting all of them. I can appreciate them all more now as people, which is always a critical part in how much I get invested in a story.
Speaking of getting invested in a story: as with any action movie, tons of people die during the huge battles that take place. But it isn't often that an action movie takes the time to have a memorial scene for the characters they just killed, and it really touched me.
The movie also doesn't disappoint from a comedy standpoint. There were plenty of good one-liners and hilarious moments of character interaction that even had me laughing the second time I saw the movie.
Overall, definitely a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.