Taika Waititi returns to helm the latest addition to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Thor: Love and Thunder. After the success and acclaim Thor: Ragnarok garnered, hopes were high that lightning might strike twice, and with the return of Natalie Portman’s Doctor Jane Foster expectations hit the roof. Although with all this said Thor: Love and Thunder might buckle under the pressure of living up to its predecessor.
Written by Alex Gilston / July 11, 2022
Thor: Love and Thunder picks up after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Thor finds himself adventuring with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Valkyrie is taking to her new job as King of New Asgard. Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster, who is going through her own battle after being diagnosed with cancer. When news travels to Thor of a god butcher he teams up with Korg, Valkyrie, and Jane, who with Mjolnir has the power of Thor, to save the day. Love and Thunder benefits from having a fairly stripped back story. The villains motivations are clear cut albeit a little simple, but it flows very well from start to finish. In the context of the wider MCU one of Thor: Love and Thunder's biggest strengths is its disconnection from it. Bar the inclusion of the Guardians of the Galaxy, whose involvement in the film doesn’t break past the first fifteen minutes, it has its own singular story that doesn’t rely on having to know fifty other bits of information from past films to be able to enjoy it, and after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Spider-Man No Way Home it’s a massive breath of fresh air.
Taika Waititi brings back his trademark brand of comedy to his second Thor film along with his, now, fan favourite character Korg. It seems like a very Waititi move that Korg is at the centre of the film with his narration accentuating the two hour runtime. The humour generally lands as well as it did in Ragnarok but the cracks do start to show, mainly in the shape of two oversized goats. Even though there is an expectation from Taika Waititi to make everything a joke, he usually balances it well enough with the more serious aspects of his filmmaking. That’s not to say that the emotional beats of Thor: Love and Thunder aren’t incredibly effective, but he leans more into the humorous side which can be detrimental at times.
The cast are all on top form in here. Chris Hemsworth essentially lives and breaths the god of thunder at this point and it seems he will for a long time yet. Tessa Thompson gets the short end of the stick, not getting as much of a shoe in to the story as maybe we were first promised (especially considering we were set up to get a storyline about her finding her queen), but she still makes her presence known. It’s wonderful to see Natalie Portman back as Jane Foster and even more so to see her take the mantle of the Mighty Thor. One thing that Love and Thunder has in common with Ragnarok is a strong villain, and Christian Bale is having loads of fun as Gorr the God Butcher (Even if he doesn’t do as much butchering as his namesake might have you believe). He’s someone that wouldn’t seem out of place in a creepy fifteen rated horror movie, really irksome stuff. The less said about Russell Crowe’s Zeus the better, a strange performance that is more baffling than it is funny.
Thor: Love and Thunder is very much a product of its visual effects and there are some really unrefined moments, one glaring moment is when Jane is first seen in her Thor outfit. Her helmet retracts and it doesn’t even look like Natalie Portman is actually there. That being said, there is a sequence in the shadow realm, where Gorr resides, that rivals some of the top set pieces in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The MCU is a monster conveyor belt of media, churning out films and TV shows at the fastest pace it has done since its inception in 2008. Marvel fatigue might be starting to take its effects here and there but Thor: Love and Thunder is at least promising in terms of looking forward. It’s by no means the worst MCU film and by no means the worst film of the year so far, it’s still a high end summer blockbuster that will more than likely get bums on seats.