For many years Marvel Studios ruled from the mountaintops when it came to comic book superhero movies. Starting with the very first Iron Man through Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios did what no one else could. The studio that gave us Iron Man, Captain America, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor, could not be touched. Suddenly, their own movie “endgame” had come and gone. It was now a matter of starting over again, and sadly, they appear to lack the focus they once had.
When it came time to return to Thor for what was to be his third, and presumably, final standalone film (preceding both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame), the studio decided to go in a new direction by bringing on New Zealand’s funny filmmaker, Taika Waititi to direct Thor: Ragnarok. Written by Eric Pearson and directed by Waititi, the movie had a certain irreverence, but never at the expense of the needed gravitas that helps define a hero’s journey. Even the roles of Loki, Hulk/Bruce Banner, and new characters Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (voiced by Waititi) had a sense of balance to their parts of the movie. The result was a fun and adventurous romp with everyone’s favorite Norse God. Now, actor Chris Hemsworth was going to have what no other Marvel Studios actor has had before. He was going to start in his fourth solo movie, Thor: Love and Thunder. For this one, the studio turned back to Waititi to direct it, only this time, he would also write the story and co-write the screenplay with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. Now, we are getting “double the funny” for this latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But is more always better?
Thor is still traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy and has acquired what was called a “dad-bod” during Avengers: Endgame, but through plenty of highly extreme exercises has regained his “god-bod” from before. He’s also miserable. Suddenly, Thor learns of an attack on New Asgard on Earth and chooses to go alone with his trusted weapon Stormbreaker and travel back to Earth to defend New Asgard. There, he encounters his old hammer, Mjolnir, only now it is being used by another being who bears a somewhat similar appearance to Thor. When the masks are lifted, we see it is Thor’s ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (there is an explanation as to why Mjolnir accepts Jane as its wielder). It is there they encounter a being named Gorr. He carries the Necrosword and is using it to kill all of the gods. Thor travels the cosmos, along with Jane, Valkyrie, Korg, and two screaming goats named Toothgrinder and Toothgnasher, hoping to stop Gorr.
The story sounds quite solid; however, this was crafted by Waititi, and it has his humor all over the place, even in areas where it is so inappropriate that those scenes made me cringe instead of laugh. Jane Foster’s predicament, which led to her acquiring Mjolnir, is barely given any sense of seriousness. The movie even reintroduces us to Lady Sif (one of the best secondary characters from Asgard), but her treatment feels more of an afterthought. The only element that seemed to be given serious approach was Gorr (Christian Bale). The event that sends him on his quest is provocative and could have been handled appropriately. Instead, it was greeted with the wrong type of levity that has the potential of alienating moviegoers. What happened to Gorr was very serious, but the response that met him bordered on insulting.
Another problem with this movie is its pacing. Coming in at just under 2 hours, there is a lot of story that deserves better development. Perhaps Waititi felt the use of humor would free him of such expectations. Instead, by failing with plenty of ill-placed humor, the movie’s pacing suffered, creating a movie-watching experience I can best describe as “uneven.” Scenes with enormous potential were instead shortchanged.
The cast for Thor: Love and Thunder were solid enough. Chris Hemsworth has always shown his strong acting chops, and he can bring a truly nuanced performance to the part of Thor. Sadly, much of that was buried under Waititi’s humor. Academy Award winner, Natalie Portman, brought some strong vulnerability (that may seem like a contradiction until you see her performance) to the role of Jane Foster, reminding audiences why she has been so appreciated in her movie appearances. Russell Crowe as the Greek God Zeus was regarded as a pompous joke, but Chris Pratt as Peter Quill did deliver one of the more serious performances early on in this movie. The big surprise is Christian Bale as Gorr. Despite the overabundance of humor throughout the movie, Bale still manages to drive home the pain and anger Gorr is carrying. Along with his makeup, Bale gave us one of the most memorable villains so far in the MCU.
Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t a complete flop. Just as there were moments of humor that did more than fall flat, there were places where the comedy did work in creating some good laughs from the audience. Many of those scenes were reserved for Valkyrie and Korg, but Hemsworth did have a scene or two where the jokes were not only ideally placed, they illustrated the sometimes goofiness that Thor exhibits when he thinks he’s trying to be serious. Even scenes that reminded me of the movie Team America: World Police had me horrifyingly laughing from witnessing something beyond disastrous. However, the best jokes revolved around the two screaming goats. The way they come crashing into a scene, especially if they’re there to save the day, had them stealing the movie.
Sadly, even with the few positive comments, they are not enough to redeem this movie. It was largely disappointing, and while many people have regarded Thor: Love and Thunder as a very gay movie, I have a different opinion. Yes, there are many gay elements here, but when it’s all said and done, I choose to paraphrase a line spoken by Graham Chapman’s King Arthur from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “On second thought, let’s not go see Thor: Love and Thunder. It is a silly movie.”
For its unevenness and an overabundance of badly timed humor, I give Thor: Love and Thunder 3 out of 5 Screaming Goats.
Official Website: Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder | Disney Movies
Thor: Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios’ THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER finds the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But Thor’s retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late. Directed by Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK, JOJO RABBIT) and produced by Kevin Feige and Brad Winderbaum.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER is currently in theaters.
ONE-LINER: 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.