Welcome, World Travelers! Thor: Love And Thunder Brings The Thunder
by James Coulter
Come! Gather round. Let me tell you the tale of the space Viking Thor and his movie franchise. The Thor movies have been quite the mixed bag in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first movie did well enough but was otherwise average like every other Phase One Marvel film—with the notable exception of The Avengers. The next movie, Thor: The Dark World tried a darker tone, only to flop hard as the worst Marvel movie next to Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk.
But then came a new director named Taika Waititi with a bold creative vision. He steered the Thor franchise away from the dark grittiness of The Dark World and toward a more light-hearted tone with the third movie, Thor: Ragnarok. And it was glorious! A fun romp with high-octane action, stunning colorful visuals, plenty of tongue-in-cheek comedy, and an epic 80s-inspired soundtrack.
Taika once again returned to bring his unique interpretation of Thor to the big screen with the latest installment, Thor: Love and Thunder. Despite receiving the usual backlash from toxic fans who prefer their comic book movies to be “dark” and “edgy”, the film earned $143 million on its opening weekend, becoming the third biggest box office opening of the year and the fifth-best opening for Marvel. But will its box office success make this film a legend, or will it fade away with other long-forgotten myths?
Thor: Love And Thunder takes place shortly after Avengers: Endgame. The titular character is busy exploring the galaxy to rediscover himself. All that changes when he learns of Gorr the God Butcher, who is currently living up to his namesake by massacring gods. After Gorr kidnaps several children from New Asgard, Thor has to team up with old friends to hunt down and stop him. One such friend is his old flame, Jane Foster, who now inexplicably wields his old weapon, the legendary hammer Mjollnir. Why is Jane now wielding the hammer? Will she rekindle her relationship with Thor? And will they stop the God Butcher from butchering more gods?
How much you love Love and Thunder will depend on how much you feel about Taika’s bold redirection of the Thor franchise with Ragnarok. If you didn’t care for that film and felt it was too “jokey”, then you probably won’t care for this movie either. In fact, you’ve probably forgone watching it altogether, having convinced yourself The Dark World was good actually, and consigning yourself to binge-watching videos by YouTube neckbeards complaining how Natalie Portman is “effeminizing” Marvel with a “woke agenda” by turning it into the “M-She-U.”
However, if you’re like me and you hold the (correct) opinion that Taika helming the Thor films was the best thing to happen to the franchise, then you will love this movie. Everything you loved about Ragnarok is present in Love and Thunder with exhilarating action sequences, jovial comedy, and, of course, plenty of 1980s throwbacks with stunning colorful visuals and Guns n Roses needle drops. If your blood isn’t rushing when you hear the opening chords to “Sweet Child O’Mine” or “Welcome To The Jungle”, you’re just not living.
Chris Hemsworth, as always, does an excellent job of presenting Thor as a three-dimensional character, someone who can effortlessly and flawlessly transition from delivering a dramatic Wagnerian spiel during a high-stake action scene to making clever tongue-in-cheek quips and comedic banter with his co-stars.
Meanwhile, Christian Bale provides a decent foil as the movie’s antagonist, Gorr the God Butcher. Having played Batman in The Dark Knight films, he has a real talent for delivering a dark, brooding performance. And while most of the movie is lighthearted fun, Gorr flawlessly shifts the overall tone to a darker, more sinister atmosphere most befitting of his character. Whenever he’s on-screen, you know the fun and games are over and things have gotten serious.
The most pleasant surprise is Natalie Portman reprising her role as Jane Foster. While the previous Thor movies relegated her as a mere love interest, this movie places her front and center in a more proactive role, this time wielding the legendary hammer. Her character arc is especially poignant with the movie’s overall theme of loss. While Thor continues to cope after the losses he suffered in previous films, and Gorr is motivated by the tragic loss of his daughter, Jane wields the hammer due to circumstances surrounding her own life, and—no spoiler—it helps her come to terms with, leading to a very fitting conclusion to her arc.
Personally, I always loved the Thor films for their unique blend of futuristic sci-fi with ancient mythos, resulting in grand “Chariot of the Gods” cosmos-spanning storylines set within truly fantastical settings, from Asgard to Sakaar to Omnipotence City in this film. What’s not to like about a floating city based on Greco-Roman architecture with hanging gardens, golden friezes, grand monumental statues, and waterfalls that empty into the void of space? It truly stimulates the fantasy-loving portion of my brain! (Not to mention having my favorite Avenger team up with the characters of my favorite Marvel franchise, the Guardians of the Galaxy, at the very start? It was like my birthday and Christmas present wrapped up into one!)
Overall, if you love the Thor movies, the Love and Thunder will give you everything you love about them and much more. The only people who won’t love it are the toxic fans who hate how Taika “ruined” their beloved franchise. In which case, they’re free to remain in their basements complaining about the “M-She-U” on Twitter. Everyone else is sure to have a blast.