Even gods need to get their mojo back…
Ok, we’ll admit it, Thor: Love & Thunder just might be one of the more wholly entertaining entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date; and we honestly didn’t expect it to be. It manages to be wholesome, sweet, hilarious, and a little dark as it foreshadows more of what is to come over the next decade in the MCU. Even when it all gets a little chaotic, it can’t help but make you smile.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before its too late.
In this fourth solo installment in the adventures of Thor, what Taika Waititi does here in his second go around in the franchise is actually kind of genius as we see a fallible god show his genuine insecurities as he tries to find his purpose once again.
Giving this the ‘cold open’ in a style akin to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was actually a real master stroke as it gets us immediately invested in the Gorr: The God Butcher character that is wonderfully enabled by Christian Bale who is very obviously having fun throwing himself into a character that is both sympathetic and kind of terrifying all at the same time.
Honestly that’s really the visual tone of the entire piece; Waititi does a marvelous job of either splashing it all in vibrant acid trip inducing color or shifting it to greys and pastels when things get a little more serious. They made full use of the color wheel on this one and it actually aids the story and the journey these characters have to go on.
That being said, it’s Hemsworth who is really settling into being able to carry a picture all unto himself because while under Taika’s watchful direction the character is really being allowed to show layers. Thor is a well-intentioned good guy, but he’s also a little directionless after all the trauma he’s had to endure and throughout all this we do get something of a resolution as he makes peace with his past to find a way to his future.
Sure the comedy can be a little uneven and awkward but that’s ultimately the point here as Thor the man is finding his way and sometimes needs to drop the occasional ‘groaner’ of a joke so we can relate to his awkwardness all that much more.
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster comes back into his life into some fairly dramatic ways and it works as seeing ones ex (especially when they are spending quality time with an old friend) is always awkward while Tessa Thompson slides in besides them well as they are trying to save the day.
Otherwise while the cameos and smaller roles in this film ranged from forgettable to important in foreshadowing the future; it’s only Portman, Hemsworth and Bale who have an emotional arc for us to get invested in.
While Thor: Love & Thunder will end up somewhere in the middle of the MCU canon, this film for all of its occasionally messy storytelling flaws does something that we haven’t seen in this long storied franchise since the very beginning of it all. It makes the personal character flaws and defaults of these larger than life superheroes feel down to earth and ultimately more relatable, which is why Thor is a character (and Hemsworth playing him) is something audiences will never get sick of no matter how long the MCU keeps churning out stories.