I want to go ahead and make a public service announcement before I dig into this. I did enjoy ‘Thor: Love & Thunder’ quite a bit. It’s fun, packed with laughs, and Christian Bale is probably in the top-5 for MCU villains. Ultimately I left the theater feeling more disappointed than I hoped. Who would’ve thought it possible to both enjoy a movie and also feel like something was missing. The problem of “Thor: Love & Thunder” is the same problem plagued by most MCU entries of late: there seems to be an overall lack of focus for the greater MCU. So while it does produce some memorable moments, overall it left us wanting more.
‘Thor: Love & Thunder’ picks up its story shortly after the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’. We find Thor (Chris Hemsworth) working alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy to answer distress calls throughout the universe. While on his journey he receives a distress call that brings him back to Asgard. Upon his return, he is reunited with King Valkyrie (Tess Thompson), as well as a mjolnir-wielding Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). The threat is revealed to be a malevolent god-hunter known as Gorr (Christian Bale). Gorr seeks revenge against all gods in the universe after his god lets his daughter die in the opening act of the film. Gorr kidnaps the children of Asgard in order to lure Thor into a trap. Thor, Valkyrie, Jane and Korg (Taika Waititi) set on a journey to bring them back.
Plenty of laughs in an insular world
‘Thor: Love & Thunder’ manages to have a very serviceable story. It makes the best of its characters and carves out a unique story in a previously untouched corner of the MCU. It leans heavily into the story of Jane & Thor which has not been a point of focus in these movies for almost a decade. Through this, the film plays out as a sort of romantic comedy intertwined with an intergalactic battle with darkness. It also reveals the relationship between all the gods of the universe and their constituents. Gorr himself sets out on a revenge tour due to his own god betraying him by letting his daughter die at the beginning of the film.
What the story seems to lack though is an overall connection to the rest of the current MCU storyline. It seems that the focus of phase 4 was to lean into the multiverse concept, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of that here. The film (other than an appearance by the GOTG) seems to be rather insular as opposed to connecting to the overall cinematic universe.
‘Thor: Love & Thunder’ does have the best pedigree of cast for any solo MCU film to date. Not only are we given Chris Hemsworth (possibly in the best shape of his life) but also we get several Academy Award winning co-stars in Natalie Portman and Christian Bale. Portman has not missed a step since she first left the franchise after 2013’s ‘Thor: The Dark World”. She shines and seems to truly enjoy working in the creative atmosphere Taika Waiti has cultivated.
Christian Bale absolutely thrives in this film as well. His portrayal of Gorr is top-shelf villainy. He’s scary yet somehow weirdly likable at the same time. I think it’s safe to say that he has set the bar for Marvel villains moving forward.
Call it a disappointment, but we still want Taika
Taika Waititi has truly made his mark in the MCU. His two Thor films are certainly the most colorful and unique films in the entire catalog. There is also a fantastic use of music (in particularly Guns & Roses) that adds to a nostalgia laden atmosphere. However, unlike its predecessor, ‘Love and Thunder’ suffers from not being the breath of fresh air that ‘Ragnarok’ was for the Thor franchise.
‘Thor: Love & Thunder’ certainly isn’t a bad movie. On the contrary, it’s quite enjoyable. We unfortunately live in a time in the MCU where Disney seems more invested in quantity as opposed to quality. Because of this, I think we may have an unreasonably high standard for MCU films—especially after ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’. Maybe I’m just getting my hopes up for every MCU release, but I think we could benefit from a break between the films and series. Get us back to a place where we want more and the quality doesn’t suffer, Mr. Feige.
VERDICT: 3 out of 5 Stars.
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