Marvel has truly been dominating the boxoffice these past five years, with 2012’s The Avengers growing to become one of the highest grossing films of all time. So it’s no surprise that they’ve decided to release two new sequels this year. This summer’s Iron Man 3 was a fun diversion, but it was ultimately underwhelming and forgettable. Thor: The Dark World is a much more impressive entry to the Marvel canon. The film’s humor and solid action sequences make this one of the fall’s must see blockbusters.

When we last saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth), he was leaving New York City and transporting his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to a prison in Asgard. When his love interest Jane (Natalie Portman) becomes infected by a strange substance, Thor returns to earth to protect her. He soon discovers that whatever it is that infected Jane is some type of weapon that the Dark Elf Malekith  intends to get his hands on. In order to protect more than one world, Thor will have to seek out help in the most unlikely of places.

None of the Marvel movies should take themselves seriously and, luckily, Thor: The Dark World has a great sense of humor. The film is able to generate some big laughs (many of them occurring in the scenes where Thor returns to earth) which definitely inject the film with some much needed fun. Even though the action sequences are entertaining to watch, they aren’t entirely breaking new ground, so it’s a good thing that the humor is able liven things up a bit.

But humor isn’t the only thing that this film has going for it. With the majority of the movie taking place in the mythical land of Asgard, the film has a visual style that is unlike any other films in the Marvel franchise. The original Thor spent too much time on earth, but it appears that the creative team realized that this was not the best route. The scenes taking place in The Dark World are also quite well done, with one particular scene surprising the viewer with how emotionally affecting it is. It certainly doesn’t damper the mood on what is an otherwise fun, superhero film, but it does raise the stakes and further invest the audience in the characters.

If the film has a major problem, it is in the character of Malekith. The film’s primary antagonist, he and his army of minions certainly look cool, but beyond that they have no personality. His only character trait is that he wants to destroy the world(s), but even his reasons for doing so seem unclear. This is less of a fault of the performer (Christopher Eccleston) and more of a fault with the writers.

Even with this minor setback, audiences will certainly leave the film feeling satisfied. Chris Hemsworth continues to grow more and more charming with each appearance of the title character and Tom Hiddleston is a joy to watch as Loki. Sure, it still can’t match the bar that was set by The Avengers, but did anyone expect it to? On its own, Thor: The Dark World is a solid blockbuster that stands above nearly all other superhero films released this year.

Thor: The Dark World receives 3/4