Marvel has done an extremely effective job over the past few years of grounding its movie universe in a recognizable reality. Tony Stark is an eccentric billionaire seemingly pulled from the latest headlines; Captain America is a well-intentioned hero that gets appropriated for wartime propaganda. The characters are all just one step away from our own world… and then there’s Thor.

Between his mythological underpinnings and almost magical powers, it’s no surprise that the Asgardian prince feels slightly out of step with the rest of the big-screen Avengers. There’s an inescapable comic book feel baked into him at the conceptual level, and while that has the potential to turn off new fans it also makes Thor a sort of bellwether character: if audiences can get behind Chris Hemsworth and a flying hammer, Marvel’s formula is right on target. In that regard Thor: The Dark World is a direct hit, an exercise in diligent execution that delivers exactly what fans of the first film will be looking for — though not much more.