Analysis and I had the pleasure of attending the pre-screening of Thor: Love and Thunder on Wednesday, July 6th. The reviews of other critics did not reach me this time so we’re able to go into the screening with open minds and no expectations.
The summary per IMDB: Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg, and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make the gods extinct.
As Marvel films go this one checks off all its boxes:
Fight scenes? Check
Special Effects? Check
Surprise Cameos? Check
Soundtrack? Check and Check
Taika Waititi adds a romantic action comedy into the Marvel franchise, and he’s done it well. The lighthearted tone does not distract from the movie’s themes of love, loss of faith, and grief. So much happens in the film’s 2 two-hour run time: Waititi fleshed out Thor & Jane’s love story, and the villain’s motive is fully-explored and deepens Thor’s growth arc.
I enjoyed this film; I love that Chris Hemsworth really went for the laughs in this version of Thor. He could have easily sat back and become the butt of the jokes, but he played into all of them. Natalie Portman‘s return as Jane Foster doesn’t feel forced into the narrative. Her character is only briefly mentioned in Thor: Ragnarök but it’s not clear how their relationship played out. She is not a damsel in distress or caught up in the craziness of dating a God, she is here to fight the villain.
Marvel has perfected the sympathetic villain, and in this movie Gorr has point. I also loved that the goal was not just ‘ending the universe” which has been done too many times recently in the MCU. Christian Bale has a history of gaining or losing weight when the role calls for it. For Thor: Love and Thunder, he seems to have leaned his body for this role which makes sense with how his role in the film starts. Even without the make-up, he is almost unrecognizable.
As romantic action comedies go, this one is in a league of its own. As we were leaving the theater last night, I heard people saying that they didn’t like this film as much as Thor: Ragnarök. I’m still wrestling with this question; it may take a second watch for me to be able to answer it.
While Thor: Love and Thunder was certainly enjoyable to watch, had memorable scenes and some great acting performances (Christian Bale as Gorr stands out), I didn’t leave the theater jumping up and down about this one, so to speak, as I normally would about an MCU film. I think it erred on the side of too much lightness, too much humor—particularly in the first half. There’s a wonderful percentage of humor that the Marvel team is able to weave into all of its productions, and especially the Thor series; Thor: Ragnarök demonstrated this very well. I think, however, they poured a little too much into the mix in Love and Thunder. Having said that, if one approaches it as something intended to be one of the more lighthearted MCU offerings, then it becomes more acceptable.
Now let me get to the elephant in the room. We had 10 years and 26 films that cumulated in Avengers: Endgame. Each movie after Avengers was loosely connected under an umbrella of a larger story and it worked. We are 6 movies and 7 television shows into phase 4 and nothing is connecting. Everything feels like its own standalone story, adding new heroes or continuing an existing hero’s arc. This is starting to bother me. I will give Marvel some grace as I know the pandemic changed the release schedule, but it’s becoming a little too much. I understand there is at least one more series and one more movie to be released this year. After this, I’m asking Marvel to slow down just a little and give us some time to breathe.
Overall, Thor: Love and Thunder felt like a natural progression for Thor’s story. I’m still interested in seeing what comes next for his arc. This is a fun movie with great action and a lot of heart. It’s worth your movie-going dollars.
3.5 Mjölnirs out of 5