Once again, before I get into my review of Thor: Love and Thunder, I feel I have to preface this review by saying that Thor is my favorite Marvel character, and has been since the mid-to-late ’70s. So when I talk about his MCU films, good or bad, I do so as a fan first, and a critic second. It’s no secret that I was deeply disappointed by Thor: Ragnarok. It’s my lowest rated MCU film of the now 29 comic based adventures spread out over the last 14 years. And I also know I’m the outlier there, as Ragnarok is considered by many to be one of the best.
Taika Waititi’s comedic take on Thor didn’t sit well with me, and so I went into Thor: Love and Thunder with the absolute lowest of expectations, expecting more slapstick comedy over the epic storytelling the character deserves. Luckily, while Love and Thunder tries to replicate the humor of Ragnarok, the heart of the film beats louder than the laughs and it saves Thor from another buddy comedy catastrophe.
Thor: Love and Thunder once again stars Chris Hemsworth as the titular character, and the God of Thunder has been on a journey to find himself since the events in Avengers: Endgame. He teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy for adventures across the universe, only to wear out his welcome with the entire team, not just Star Lord (Chris Pratt). When the Guardians pick up a series of distress calls across the universe of various gods being murdered, Thor sees a message from Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander) that forces him to set out with Korg (voiced by Waititi) to figure out what happened.
Sif explains that a being called Gorr (Christian Bale) has been killing gods, and Thor will soon be in Gorr’s crosshairs. This leads Thor and Korg to seek help from New Asgard on Earth, and King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). But Valkyrie has a secret: there is another “Thor” (Natalie Portman) and her introduction sets the God of Thunder off on a new journey that sees the group beg the other gods, like Zeus (Russell Crowe), for help as Gorr continues to bring chaos across the nine realms.
Love and Thunder tries to recreate the silliness of the slapstick comedy that Waititi wielded in Ragnarok, but thankfully the jokes mostly all fall flat. A running gag with Thor’s goats, Tooth Gnasher and Tooth Grinder, constantly screaming, and the ridiculous amount of love triangle jokes between Thor and his two hammers, Stormbreaker and Mjolnir, gets old really, really fast. Much like Ragnarok, these stupid, sophomoric attempts at humor could easily be cut from the film and make it so much better, but apparently producer Kevin Feige is okay with childish humor in one of Marvel’s longest running and respected characters.
Hemsworth once again shines as Thor, and after two previous films, he finally has some chemistry with Portman, who actually has a sense of purpose here. Her take on the character — known as the Mighty Thor — is refreshing, even if she brings the ham in nearly every scene she’s in costume. It’s when she’s not Thor that Portman is able to build Jane Foster into something more than a silly fangirl, and the payoff at the end works extremely well.
Since this is a core Thor film, other characters make returns, including Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), which is nice, but the script by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson doesn’t really give either much to do. Instead, the action is focused on the Thors and Valkyrie as they rush to confront Bale’s Gorr and end his reign of terror on gods across the universe.
The biggest story issue with Thor: Love and Thunder is that we only see Gorr kill one god, and yet he’s called “the god butcher.” The other deaths are told to us by characters, and any writer worth their salt knows that you always show and not just tell. This highlights a major weakness with the screenwriters.
One thing the script can’t do is derail Bale’s uncanny performance as Gorr. This is a man so enraged at the idea of worshipping the generally unworthy that he wants to murder them all, and is willing to go to the end of the cosmos to make sure his mission is completed. This allows the film to expand the MCU into some of the larger cosmic themes from the comic books, but doesn’t do much to propel Phase 4 into any new territory.
Thor: Love and Thunder borrows stories from “recent” Thor comic books (recent as in 2013-14 or so), both written by Jason Aaron. This moves the character to near-current, and gives up any hopes of other classic Thor comic stories that could be adapted. It’s a shame, as in the character’s 60 years, there have been some great stories written, stories we will never get to see brought to life by Chris Hemsworth.
I enjoyed Thor: Love and Thunder much more than Ragnarok, as this “rom-com” in space has a ton of heart, and that compensates for the terrible jokes and gags that try to send my beloved character to the realm of farce. While not as solid as recent Phase 4 films, like Shang-Chi or Spider-Man: No Way Home, it’s still light years ahead of Black Widow and Eternals in terms of the greater MCU story being told across nearly 30 films. I hope that this is the last Waititi turn with Thor, and a new voice gets to direct the next film — as according to the end of the credits, he will return. The joke has run dry, and it’s time to restore Marvel’s most power character back to his rightful place as the true “Mighty Thor.”
Thor: Love and Thunder is rated PG-13 and is in theaters now. There are two post-credits scenes, including one that introduces a classic Avenger, played by an actor who is as surprising as he is perfect for the role.
TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.