Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) Cover

Thor: Love and Thunder is the 4th Thor film and the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it is directed by Taika Waititi (who directed the previous film, Thor Ragnarok). Unfortunately, Thor: Love and Thunder is merely a subpar love story meshed within a subpar superhero action movie. The film hinges on an emotional moment between two characters and when I didn’t feel anything I couldn’t in-good-conscience speak highly of the film. There’s some zany action and the top-notch visual effects you’ve come to expect from a Marvel film, but the tone-clashing storytelling makes this one of the weaker Marvel movies.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) attempts to live in peace with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Evil strikes as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) aims to extinguish all gods within the universe. Thor recruits Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Waititi), and his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who now seems to have super powers. Together they must stop this malicious being. 

Although it may be beneficial if you see the first Thor film so you can understand the relationship between Thor and Jane, it is not mandatory as the film does a fair enough job at letting us know what these characters have been through. However, I found it odd seeing Jane Foster after both Dark World and Ragnarok did not shed much light on how Thor and Jane’s relationship ended and I just felt the reason they broke up was because Natalie Portman wasn’t available to do the 2nd or 3rd Thor film but now that she is in this movie, the reasoning just didn’t seem to ring true to me. It was also weird seeing her character transform from someone who was having health issues quickly to a superwoman type hero the film is calling Mighty Thor. The way she gets these powers felt contrived and her awkward relationship with Thor didn’t ring true for me. There is some attempt to build upon the previous first film relationship that Thor and Jane had and if you admire that relationship and can buy into what they seek to do in this movie, there may be some fun to be had. While I did not hate the film, it simply felt like a standard MCU film that was not carefully constructed. 

Love and Thunder does not stand out when compared to recent MCU films, such as the stylistically impressive Shang-Chi (which highlighted Chinese culture in a unique impressive way). The film does have good visuals but nothing that sets it apart regarding its style unless you consider 80s rock tunes a neat retro style but it just seemed bland and uninspired to. It also lacks the character development I admired Chloe Zhao did with Eternals (which I know that film was not loved by critics and split with audiences; Eternals had its own set of problems with too many characters but at least that film excelled at fleshing out and developing unique characters. Several characters within Love and Thunder aren’t very memorable. Particularly, the villain (who is given an introductory scene) is not given enough flesh to feel threatened by. Christian Bale does fine with what he’s given but the villain isn’t written in a compelling way. Although his motivations aren’t absent, it seems like screenwriters simply gave him his opening scene to check off “the box” that they gave the villain some flesh but ultimately he felt like a forgettable nonthreatening stock villain. The tone tries to do what it did with Ragnarock by incorporating humor but it negates many of the moments that try to communicate dread, thrills, or emotion.

There’s a side quest where our characters have to go see Zeus (Russell Crowe) to seek help and it just seemed like an unimportant shoved in part of the story. If the movie was supposed to highlight this love story, it has me wondering why they didn’t give more screen time to that instead of this meandering quest. The film also opens with a proverbial fight scene that many Marvel films opt to open with as an action “attention-getter” but none of this opening serves the ultimate plot but merely to show a “cool” fight that segues into Thor leaving the Guardians (which made me wonder what was the whole point of Thor ever embarking on an adventure with them). From wasting time on a senseless opening battle scene, having our heroes seek help from Zeus, having Jane and Thor’s delayed relationship awkwardly reunited, and having a comical / serious tone together that did not mesh well, Thor: Love and Thunder is an average, unimpressive and forgettable Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

Final Verdict:Thor: Love and Thunder is merely a subpar love story meshed within a subpar superhero action movie.