Here we are–back in the saddle again! Or, based on the number of Guns N’ Roses songs throughout the film, I should say we’re heading back to the paradise city. Either way, Thor is back in theaters, and director Taika Waititi brings both the thunder and the love with this fourth installment of the franchise.
Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) finds the Norse god in the middle of recovering from the physical and emotional beating that he received in Avengers: Endgame (2019). Thanks to a voiceover–provided by returning friend Korg (Taika Waititi)–and a workout montage, we find that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has gotten back into shape and is longing for a connection. While working with the Guardians of the Galaxy to help those in need, a long-lost friend warns Thor of an evil that is bent on destroying all gods. The news brings Thor back to his now-Earthly home of New Asgard to ensure they are protected from this new threat.
Meanwhile, Thor’s ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is on her own journey. Not seen since Thor: The Dark World (2013), much has changed for Jane. She is a published author, is highly successful in her career, and was recently diagnosed with cancer. Despite being a world-renowned scientist and having some of the best doctors working on her case, nothing has been successful in stopping the advancement of her cancer. Desperate for an alternative, she finds herself in New Asgard, where an interaction with Mjolnir turns her into the Mighty Thor.
No MCU movie is going to be complete without a villain. Filling that role is Christian Bale, who transformed his body to become Gorr the God Butcher. Gorr was once a humble man living his life in service to his god. That is until tragedy struck, and the deity that Gorr once worshiped mocked and dismissed him. Feeling betrayed, Gorr was seduced by an evil entity to not only kill the god he once worshipped but also hunt down and kill all gods throughout the universe. Thus, a new MCU villain is born, with the God of Thunder directly in his sights.
In Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) Waititi attempts to bring back many of the components that worked in the predecessor Thor Ragnarök (2017)–with varying degrees of success. Back again are the bright colors, the jokes, and the full-on action that we have come to expect from Waititi. The opening scene, which serves as the backstory for Gorr, takes place before we even get the traditional Marvel opening. It serves its purpose to remind audiences that, while this is a summer blockbuster, at its core are love, loss, and vengeance serving as familiar themes throughout the movie.
Waititi goes all out and makes sure that there is both plenty of love and thunder in this latest Thor adventure. Love runs throughout every character in some way. Of course, the main focus of that love is on Thor and Jane, and it is handled brilliantly. From the awkward reunion in the middle of the initial battle with Gorr to the ending scenes, the love between the characters is obvious. I do not know what the difference was here, but Hemsworth and Portman have a real on-screen chemistry that was lacking in the first two movies. Another part that is captured perfectly is the awkwardness of being around an ex that there are still feelings for. There was no bad blood between the two when they broke up, and both have come to see the mistakes they may have made in the past. By the end of the movie, it is obvious that those awkward walls have been knocked down and both are ready for the future, no matter how brief it may be.
While the love between Jane and Thor is the focus, every character is forced to deal with their hang-ups with love and relationships. Korg is handled more humorously, while we see how Valkyrie tries to quell her inner demons. If there is one criticism I have about this movie, it is that I wish we would have gotten to explore Valkyrie’s storyline a bit more. It has been touched upon in the past, and it feels like it is something worth exploring. There is a conversation between her and Korg that felt unfinished. Perhaps an added scene or two would have added more depth to a character that has become a fan favorite.
If you have the love, you must have the thunder, and this movie delivers it tenfold. The battles are epic and filled with tons of action. The confrontations that do not involve Gorr are just as bright and metal as you get from the rest of the movie–one example being the golden glitter that spills from Zeus’ guards as they bleed. In stark contrast is a fight with Gorr in the shadow realm. Watiti takes advantage of the darkness there and presents the battle in black and white. It adds a bit of seriousness that is missing from some of the other fight scenes.
Thor: Love & Thunder hits many of the right notes. Thor has found a purpose by the end of the movie, which puts him in a satisfying place, if indeed this is the last time we see the character. The audience is taken on an emotional ride filled with plenty of laughs. Time for those misty-eye moments also manage to slip in. Coming in at about two hours by the time the credits roll, you will find yourself at the end of a satisfying journey that proves, once again, that superhero fatigue is easily cured.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Jane Fosters Return9.5/10
Mix of Humor and Drama9.0/10
Gorr The God Butcher10.0/10
Use of Source Material9.0/10
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi
- Director: Taika Waititi
- Writer: Taika Waititi, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
- Producer: Victoria Alonso, Brian Chapek
- Marvel Studios