As of a couple of weeks ago, it was announced that English actor Christopher Eccleston was in the final stages of taking on the villainous role of Malekith the Accursed, leader of the Dark Elves, for the very anticipated sequel to Thor, titled Thor: The Dark World. 48-year-old Eccleston is well-known for his roles in Doctor Who as the Ninth Doctor, in Heroes as the invisibility-driven Claude, in Gone in 60 Seconds as crime boss Raymond Calitri, in Jude (1996) as the titular lead, and in 28 Days Later as Major Henry West, among many other characters throughout television, radio, movies, and theatre. As he’s already an award-winning British personality, I know I speak for many of us when I say this announcement brought him on as a much welcomed addition to the cast and crew we’d already known of for the upcoming Marvel film.
“Sad, pathetic wretch. Thy reach far exceeded thy grasp. The Cask of Ancient Winters and all the power it conveys — unknowingly augmented by Odin himself — belongs not with one so woeful as thee — but with me.” – Malekith the Accursed
The following may contain spoilers for the comic books and already-released Marvel films, and speculation for any of the upcoming movies! (These books came out in the 1980s, but I know there are some of you who still would rather read it all for yourselves! And I wholeheartedly support this decision, it’s a worthy read!) Just as a heads-up, I’ll be discussing what happens in Malekith’s appearances in the comics and what that may bode for the Thor sequel — seeing as the Marvel films are considered their own cinematic universe, separate from those of the graphic novels, no plot that ever happens in the books is guaranteed to show up in the movies. That being said, however, I sense some hints by the deliberate choosing of Malekith as the next villain, and would like to discuss them freely. I don’t claim to be an expert on the Mighty Thor and his endless adventures, but having read many of them and having enjoyed what they did with the movies, I’m looking forward to seeing where Alan Taylor’s direction takes this upcoming adaptation.
For those who may not have read the Thor comics on which these movies are based, Malekith first appears in the June 1984 issue, (The Mighty) Thor #344. This mysterious king of the Dark Elves has agreed to an affiliation with Loki, the god of chaos and Thor’s snarky step-brother, at the behest of the very powerful fire demon, Surtur. We learn over the course of the next couple of issues that his entire purpose was to find and open the Casket of Ancient Winters, an Asgardian relic that has the power of reproducing Niflheim’s arctic cold, and inflict it upon “Midgard,” or Earth. After some stumbles and events, Thor finally takes Malekith down, capturing him and bringing him back to Odin. After all is said and done (in this small arc), it all turns out that Surtur cracked the plan in order to bust through the portal from his world to ours and wreak havoc on us all! Ahhhh!
This is the main run of Malekith’s existence. While this storyline is going on and all the craziness happens, one of his loyal subjects, Algrim the Strong, is betrayed by his leader and dropped into a pool of lava. Algrim survives, although injured and pretty ticked off, and is transformed into a monster called Kurse; way down the line, the newly-monstrous Kurse seemingly kills Malekith out of revenge. However, it’s later revealed that the elusive Dark Elf survives. Not one to learn a lesson that angering those around you leads to everyone trying to kill you, he then decides to set forth an unsuccessful plan to kill Alflyse, the Dark Elf queen. What a punk!
Malekith is primarily known as being the type of character who can “slip by unnoticed” and “blend into the shadows.” Oh, and he has cerulean blue skin, not unlike the Frost Giants seen in the first Thor movie — whether Taylor will establish the storyline of the Dark Elves or let Malekith’s origin remain a mystery, I couldn’t say. Considering the name of our sequel is Thor: The Dark World, and the main point of Malekith’s retrieval of the Casket is to create a stormy winter all across Earth, I think we can safely say that Taylor will at least include the relic. (It could also be a double-entendre in reference to the Dark Elves! That would be clever.) A second Thor-related casting put Alice Krige, well-known to many of us as the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact, into a role that she claims (to the audience at a Las Vegas Star Trek convention) will make it difficult to recognise her. To many, this implies heavy makeup, therefore perhaps it could be the role of Alflyse, who is blue-skinned and wide-grinned, just as Malekith himself. To have two powerful Dark Elves on the screen at one time, maybe as the King and Queen together, would certainly help their introduction rise in importance quickly, good for establishing the power of this new race.
I’d love to hear from others as to what Eccleston and Krige’s castings may mean for The Dark World, maybe even what it would mean for our ill-fated Loki, seeing as the two characters are in pretty close cahoots. Perhaps the Accursed’s arrival spurs a correction of the events that happened to Loki at the end of The Avengers. I have a lot of confidence that Eccleston will bring some more seriousness and badassery to Malekith, and etch him out to be a great addition to our villain line-up; Eccleston’s best seems to be with the dark and gritty, so I’m really hoping for a gnarlier twist on Malekith than how he was originally written. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until about the 8th of November 2013 to really find out, but until then, I know I’ll be speculating away!