With the loss of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and the “retirement” of Chris Evan’s Captain America, who else remains but Chris Hemsworth’s titular god of thunder as one of the few remaining “original players” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)?
The past decade has seen Thor experience growth (both as an individual and a hero), heartbreak, grief and loss, and in this film, his struggle with finding his place in a post “Avengers: Endgame” world. With so many varying experiences and character arcs that Hemsworth’s god of thunder has gone through, one might think, “What else is there to do with this character?”
However, even with the character’s longevity in the MCU, “Thor: Love and Thunder” somehow finds a refreshing, new way for audiences to experience both Thor’s character and the larger world which encapsulates him. And with director/actor Taika Waititi back at the helm for the fourth installment, the movie is nothing short of a fast-paced, humorous and, at times, heart-wrenching journey of rediscovering one’s self.
As previously mentioned, following the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Thor finds himself in an awkward spot. He’s not quite ready to lead his people, mentally and physically, but he also knows his days of being a hero are behind him.
So what does one do in such a dilemma? Go into space on quirky new adventures with the Guardians of The Galaxy, of course, which is where we find Thor at the beginning of the film.
After a quick workout montage (which yes, is reminiscent of those classic 80’s movie montages) and a strange yet hilarious misadventure with the Guardians, Thor finally returns to his home of New Asgard after receiving word of a madman who seeks to rid the world of all gods. Along with his ex-love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who now mysteriously possesses Thor’s old hammer, Mjölnir, as well as Tessa Thompson’s King Valkyrie and Waititi’s Korg, Thor sets out on a quest to defeat the madman, Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) while rediscovering his purpose in the world.
While this movie has everything one comes to expect from a Waititi film (a.k.a. a plethora of humor), it takes what made Waititi’s last Marvel film, “Thor: Ragnarok,” lovable and cranks it up to a 10, sacrificing storytelling for laughs at certain points and thus, coming off as a satire of the superhero genre overall. Along with sporadic instances of serious and grievous scenes sprinkled throughout that feel like a gut punch, “Thor: Love and Thunder” comes off as unsure as to what it wants to be.
I felt that, while marketed as a romance and journey of self-discovery, both of which are paramount aspects that help to make it feel refreshing, the film was, at its heart, a comedy more than anything else. Even so, one notable aspect that broke up this constant humor was Bale’s terrifying portrayal as Gorr the God Butcher. While his character arc was not fully fleshed out, what was shown of him was absolutely spine-chilling and made for a strong addition to the MCU’s villain oeuvre.
In a similar vein, Portman’s Jane, while an extremely cool character, was also unable to have her arc fully fleshed out, thus diminishing the character’s importance and impact in the film overall.
So, is Hemsworth’s fourth outing as the titular god of thunder worth it?
In essence, yes. While fast-paced with its plot and sometimes trading its storytelling for a humorous quip, “Thor: Love and Thunder” falls nothing short of the kind of classic, superhero adventure one would expect from Waititi and Hemsworth’s Thor while simultaneously ushering the god of thunder into the next phase of his journey in the wider Marvel world.