I just saw a trailer for Thor: The Dark World and noticed that it will be released in Germany as Thor - The Dark Kingdom. While movie titles are often changed in localized versions for various reasons (as shown in this more general question), this change from "World" to "Kingdom" seems completely arbitrary to me and I cannot imagine any of the usual reasons to apply here. If there are 10 English words any German understands "world" is one of them, neither do I have any knowledge of "dark world" being used in other contexts.

Additionally, looking at other localized titles it seems that most (if not all?) other countries also use their words for "world" (yet in their own languages, but modern German has always been quite anglophile anyway), and the other countries not listed most probably use the original title. But given that we already had previous instances of seemingly arbitrary title changes that garnered pretty definite and good answers in the end, there might in fact be a known reason behind this oddity. So why was the title of this movie changed in such a minor yet unreasonable way for the German version?


2 Answers 2


Actually, the answer is quite mundane:

There's a Russian fantasy/horror movie called Тёмный мир (Temny Mir) which was released in Germany (and probably other European countries, too) as "Dark World".

To avoid possible conflicts with the name holder of said production, the Thor movie's title was changed to "Dark Kingdom".

  • +1 seems most plausible! Marvel don't have much look with pan-global movie titles! The Avengers was changed to Avengers:Assemble in the UK, because they clearly thought there was some room for confusion between 'The Heroes of New York' and cane-wielding gentleman with a rubbish-pseudo-judo sidekick from the 1960s. I despair at the condescension, sometimes. Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 23:42
  • @JohnSmithOptional In fact that's even been discussed here already (but maybe you already know).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 23:58
  • Thank you for the answer, this sounds not that unreasonable. But I would still like to see some reference to back this claim, if any. I also haven't ever heard about this other movie (though that doesn't need to mean anything).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 0:00
  • When comparing the release titles of Temnyy Mir they (Marvel) didn't have a problem to use the same title in Japan and Poland. And it also seems to have been direct-to-DVD in Germany. Compared to the similar case of The Avengers (mentioned here earlier) the older material there was much more famous in the respective country than Temnyy Mir in Germany it seems.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 12:24

There is some speculation on this here:

Apparently Dark World doesn't translate well in German but Dark Kingdom does.

Googling and Wikipedian the Dark World and Germany resulted in a few possibilities for the change.

A few articles referred to Die Schwarze Welt or Dark World of the Afro-Germans (Afro-Deutsche) of which there are close to a 1/2 million living in Germany today. Like the Jews, Afro-Germans were rounded up and sent to concentration camps during WWII. About 50,000 Afro-Germans were gassed.

Changing the title avoids that connotation but adds an even more disturbing one: Kingdom translates to Reich in German. So pasting Malekith, his minions and the world they come from with the "Reich" word associates them as automatically evil in most Germans' mind. The marketing folks for Thor 2 are hoping that by using the English "Kingdom" they would be avoiding the unsettling layers that rise by calling it Das Schwarze Reich.

James White of Empire magazine also speculated that there might be a clash with some other film or tv series that uses the title. Recalling The Weinstein Company losing legal battle to keep "The Butler" that also makes perfect sense. I was not able to come up with any conflicting German film/TV titles though.

The Empire magazine article mentioned above is here.

  • Germans on this board might be able to confirm the above speculation. Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 21:46
  • 4
    "Kingdom translates to Reich in German." - Not really, rather to "Königreich" literally, "Reich" would be realm. And also the word "Reich" is used rather freely in many fields of art without having much bad connotation to it. As long as it's not combined with "Drittes" (Third) it is really a pretty neutral word. Hmm, those articles seem to be speculating as well, and as said, not everything makes sense, but at least it sheds some light on it. +1
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 22:45
  • 2
    "A few articles referred to Die Schwarze Welt or Dark World of the Afro-Germans (Afro-Deutsche) of which there are close to a 1/2 million living in Germany today." - I'm still not sure what this part is actually talking about.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 23:23
  • 3
    LOL this is utter nonsense. "The Dark World" translates directly to "Die Dunkle Welt"... dark = dunkel... black = schwarz... get it? ;) There is no association with Afro-Germans.
    – user6565
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 13:08

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