Thor’s had a difficult few years. His parents died. Asgard was destroyed. Many survivors were attacked by Thanos and his army, only to be halved even more in Thanos’ infinity snap. But since the ending of Avengers: Endgame, Thor has been working his way out of his depressive slump while moonlighting as a Guardian of the Galaxy, but the arrival of a new foe means he must return to New Asgard, where he will meet some big surprises…
The Strongest Avenger Returns
Thor: Love and Thunder sees the return of Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Taika Waititi (in the dual role of Korg and as the film’s director), and Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) as the new wielder of Mjölnir, as they fight to save the God’s of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher.
If you hated the tonal shift from quasi-dark superhero-action of Thor and Thor: The Dark World to the comedy delights of Taikia Waititi in Thor: Ragnarok, then you’ll probably hate Thor: Love and Thunder. It’s jam-packed with even more humour than its predecessor, which was good for me because I absolutely loved Ragnarok no matter how jarring the tonal shift between movies was.
As a film, Love and Thunder is not as good as its predecessor which changed the game for Thor and the cookie-cutter elements of the MCU as a whole, and with more jokes packed in than any other Marvel film, even more than the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, this new installment is one of the funniest movies we’ve ever had from Marvel.
Thor has also faced further changes in the way he has been written. The once serious and stern God of Thunder is even more jovial and boisterous than ever before, but his personality change makes perfect sense since Thor has worked on himself both inside and out.
Hemsworth’s performance has changed to fit this “new” Thor and despite playing the role brilliantly since 2011, he seems more comfortable in the role than ever before and all it took was the wit, charm and fun nature of Taika Waititi to bring it out of him. And with a movie filled-to-the-brim with characters, this very much remains Chris Hemsworth’s movie, even if he is now the co-titular character.
Tessa Thompson’s King Valkyrie makes her third appearance in the MCU with an expanded role that sees her join Thor and The Mighty Thor on the adventure. Although, she could have still been in the movie a little bit more than she was. Thompson is a magnificent as usual and her Asgardian pseudo-English accent has improved greatly.
The Mighty Thor
After skipping Thor: Ragnarok, Natalie Portman makes her highly anticipated return as Jane Foster. Taking strong inspiration from Jason Aaron’s Mighty Thor series, Foster has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and during her plight, she hears the calling of Mjölnir, which then grants her the power of Thor.
Portman absolutely steals the show, bringing a new level to her character and the Thor franchise. Don’t think that she’s just an extension of Hemsworth’s Thor, Portman’s Thor may have the same powers and a similar costume to boot, but she is very much her own person. The Mighty Thor has her own fighting style and her own way of handling the hammer that is a delight to see brought to life on screen, especially when she gets to team up with her (now) fellow Asgardians.
Naturally, her character brings in a pensive tone but her illness doesn’t overshadow the film and even when humour is dashed into the more somber scenes, Portman is able to handle them like an expert.
Speaking of that aspect of the film, as someone who has been deeply affected by cancer I don’t tend to watch films where it plays a role. But I found that the scenes involving the subplot were written as well as any superhero comedy could handle such a subject. Despite the comedy in the movie, it was managed respectfully and with enough care that I didn’t find it offensive in any way, I would go as far as to say that Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson have portrayed the topic far better than some movies where cancer is a bigger key theme (looking at you The Fault in Our Stars).
A Colourful Adventure
If you thought Thor: Ragnarok was colourful just you wait for Thor: Love and Thunder. It’s possibly the most bright and vibrant Marvel film to date with Waititi once again ditching Marvel’s trademark droll, almost-industrial colour pallette for one which matches his own personality and directing style.
The action is also some of the best we’ve seen with some of the most comic-book looking shots I’ve ever seen, especially in the shadow realm – a black and white world with only a splashing of colour here and there.
This newly refurbished Marvel world is topped off with an array of new characters that are given their time to shine no matter how short their appearances may be with some great cameo appearances including Russel Crowe as Zeus, the egotistical and imprudent God of Lighting, who makes the absolute most of his short time on-screen.
A Great Movie. Not Perfect.
WARNING: This Section Contains ONE MILD Spoiler. I Have Left A Second Warning Ahead of the Spoiler Itself.
From The Dark Knight to the God Butcher, Christian Bale enters a new universe of superheroes as Gorr, a alien scorned after his prayers to his god failed to save his young daughter. Gorr is a scarred soul both inside and out and sadly Bale is massively underused. So much so that we only see him kill [SPOILER INCOMING] one god in the entire movie.
We had the pleasure of having our screening introduced by Taikia Waititi, Tessa Thompson, and Natalie Portman, who after being asked “how gay is the movie?”, Portman replied “so gay” to which Waititi reiterated with “it’s super gay”. Sadly, they must have seen a different cut because the movie was neither so gay or super gay. Don’t go into this film hoping for decent LGBTQ+ representation. There are sprinkles of it but despite promises made by the actors and crew, Valkyrie has no Queen and her sexuality is only briefly hinted at in a scene that is, once again, short and inconsequential enough to be cut if Disney sees fit. Another character is revealed to have two dads and by the finale he has a boyfriend of his own, but it’s implied that his species only has one gender, so whether that counts as representation is up to your own interpretation.
While it’s not without its flaws, Thor: Love and Thunder is an absolute funderfully colourful adventure with great stars, a terrific screenplay filled with snappy jokes and the best visual effects and cinematography that we’ve had in quite a while in a Marvel film.