If you ask a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which is the film in the franchise is the worst, there's a good chance that they will bring up the 2013 sequel Thor: The Dark World. The plot was sort of all over the place, the villain wasn't the least bit interesting, and the movie is largely forgotten about when discussing the grander MCU. However, no matter how much you may not enjoy The Dark World, it's actually one of the most important movies in the franchise, especially in regards to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
Seriously, in the grand scheme of things, this movie is a pretty big deal. Not for what it does to Thor's story or how it sets up Loki as the ruler of Asgard, but for its place in the tale of the Infinity Stones. What you may forget about Dark World, especially more than five years later, is that this movie truly kicked off the era of the Infinity Stone on the big screen. Yes, the Tesseract existed in multiple movies prior to this one, and Loki's scepter was secretly the Mind Stone all along, but at that point these were nothing but powerful weapons. Thor: The Dark World changed all that.
If you recall, Thor: The Dark World centered around the mysterious aether, a red swirling substance that could destroy entire civilizations when used properly. After defeating Malekith and taking possession of the aether, the Asgardians did something unexpected in the film's post-credits scene.
Lady Sif and Volstagg were seen in the post-credits scene taking the aether to the Collector, best known for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy. When he asked why they wanted to give it to him, the Asgardian warriors replied that it wasn't safe to house two Infinity Stones on one planet. This single exchange changed the entire MCU going forward. This was the first time that Infinity Stones were ever mentioned on-screen.
Knowing that the Infinity Stones were in play opened up a universe of possibilities in the eyes of fans. The Thanos tease at the end of The Avengers finally made sense, and so did his mission to steal the Tesseract. It also started the hunt for the rest of the stones, both for fans and characters in the franchise. Films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange, and others centered around the struggle for these stones. The Collector's line saying "One down, five to go," further endorsed the idea that everyone was now making moves to try and acquire these precious stones.
The entire Marvel franchise now centers around the powers that these stones possess. Thanos used them to wipe out half of all life in the known universe. The Avengers will somehow try to use them to restore what was lost. It's all about the Infinity Stones, a saga that began during Thor: The Dark World.
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26th.
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