SAN DIEGO - At this point, Saturday has become the big day for fan-gasms in Hall H, the day the studios all compete to see who can make the biggest noise, and for the last several years, Marvel has walked away victorious.

This year, their panel started with moderator Chris Hardwick taking the stage for the second time that day, still dressed as Booker DeWitt, and he immediately brought out Kevin Feige, all-around head poobah of Marvel Studios.

Kevin walked out, sat down, and as he was in the middle of his introductory banter with Chris, said one word about "Thor: The Dark World," only to be cut off mid-sentence as the entire Hall H plunged into darkness.

"Humanity," a suspiciously familiar voice said over the Hall H speakers. "Look how far you've fallen. Lining up in the sweltering heat for hours. Huddled together in the darkness. I am Loki of Asgard… and I am burdened with glorious purpose."

With a lightning-like flash at the front of the room, Tom Hiddleston emerged onstage, dressed in his full Loki costume.  "Stand back! The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for a place in this chamber." He welcomed us to "this meager palace of Midgard, this arena they call Hall H." When he called the assembled audience "mewling quims," they erupted in excitement, and Hiddleston looked like he had to bite back a smile.

"You should have let me rule you when you had the chance. Here you are. Your ears yearn for untold stories, your eyes crave unseen sights. Your imaginations ache and hunger. Where are your Avengers now? Claim loyalty to me… and I will give you what you need."

He looked out over the crowd, fans going berserk and screaming for him. "Say my name."

The crowd roared back, "LOKI!"

"Say my name!" he said again.

"LOKI!" Even louder this time.

"SAY MY NAME!" he bellowed, and the response was deafening.

One last time. "SAY MY NAME!"

And with one last thunderous "LOKI!" he turned to walk offstage, satisfied.

"It seems I have an army. Feast your eyes." The footage from "Thor: The Dark World" began on the overhead screens, and Hiddleston disappeared backstage again.

I'll say this: Alan Taylor has delivered something that appears to be vastly more cinematic than what Kenneth Branagh did. I like the original "Thor," but there's so much room for improvement, and at the start of this footage, we find the Warriors Three caught up in a battle in some distant realm. We see Sif and the others, and it's obvious this is a fairly even fight. Suddenly, amidst a blast of energy, Thor appears and Mjolnir flies out, taking down several foes before returning to his hand.

Sif seems frustrated to see him. "We have this under control."

"Oh?" replies Thor. "Is that why everything's on fire?" Right away, Hemsworth seems more relaxed and at home in the role. The crowd starts to fall silent, and then move out of the way as an enormous stone giant comes walking up to look down at Thor, speaking to him in some alien tongue.

"I accept your surrender," Thor says. As the thing bellows at him again, Thor unleashes Mjolnir, throwing it up with such force that it explodes the giant's head into a million tiny rocks.

The rest of what they showed was dense with images. Obviously something takes up residence in New York, some giant land-mass, and Thor ends up bringing Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) back to Asgard with him for her own safety. I laughed when we see Darcy (Kat Dennings) standing in the smoking rune where Jane and Thor vanished, looking up at the sky with a quiet "Holy shit."

The entire thing looked big and beautiful, with a new emphasis on Idris Elba as Heimdall, and it's obvious Loki plays a fairly major role here when Thor springs him so that he can help them. He's Loki, though, so you know that's not going to last, and the final shot in the preview had Loki standing over a bloodied Thor. Thor puts out his hand to call Mjolnir to him, and just before it gets there, Loki swings a blade and cuts Thor's hand completely off.

Oh, yeah. That happened.

Fingers crossed that this is going to be as much fun as it looks. They're definitely trying to top the first film in the franchise, which is an admirable goal.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.