Thor: Love and Thunder Review: Comedy and blunders
Thor was seriously a less than enjoyable entity in the MCU before writer/director Taika Waititi turned him into a comedic god. Now, Waititi returns to give Thor another comedic adventure with Thor: Love and Thunder providing good laughs but not much more.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in an interesting place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. While he’s back to being in peak physical shape, mentally he’s kind of lost. Although he’s able to hang with the Guardians of the Galaxy on their space adventures, he’s not the hero he used to be as he waits to be called into battle and isn’t really sure who he is anymore. However, he’s forced to fight against a fearsome force known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks to kill all gods in the universe. Thor isn’t alone in this fight though as his old girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) now has become worthy of wielding Mjolnir and become a Mighty Thor of her own. After years of being apart, these two must come back together to fight against Gorr and his tirade against the gods.
Thor and Waititi coming back together again does feel pretty special as Thor returns to who he was back in Thor: Ragnorok. He’s foolhardy in how he saves the day and is self-absorbed in proclaiming himself as a mighty, unstoppable hero. In some ways, it’s kind of like a reset button has been hit on Thor since he was incredibly mopey and defeated in Endgame. Thus, he takes more of centerstage in providing the laughs and it works in creating some hilarious moments. Thor’s fractured relationship with Stormbreaker is made absolutely hilarious as Stormbreaker comes off like a jealous partner after Thor sees his old hammer Mjolnir. The chemistry between the cast, even the Guardians, can be pretty funny and lead to some solid banter.
However, having Thor and Jane come back together provides something a little more than just good laughs. The romantic chemistry between these two feels more genuine than in previous films and it’s great too that Jane is given stronger story material to make her more than just a romantic interest. Their dynamic has a great balance and is really what makes Love and Thunder a true MCU rom-com. Unfortunately, there’s just so much going on in Love and Thunder when it comes to its style and tone, and it struggles to pick a lane.
Look, the 80s rock/metal aesthetic that Love and Thunder goes with is awesome and a great continuation of the MCU touching on different styles and genres post-Endgame. However, it never feels like a cohesive or prominent part of the film. We get a visually stunning fight between Thor and Gorr on his monochrome planet that’s just stylistically masterful, but not much else. The music is great, but it would’ve been nice to see it and the 80s rock style play a more impactful role in watching the film. The same can be said for the film’s tone as it constantly shifts between romance, comedy, horror, and other genres without one ever feeling like it totally works.
Gorr is an awesome villain whose story makes for an emotionally charged opening and Bale’s performance is just amazing. As he continues to wield the Necrosword, Bale’s performance only becomes more and more delightfully twisted and he nails the balance of righteous anger and nefarious evil that comes with Gorr’s tragic story. However, there isn’t enough of Gorr throughout the film and his more horror-driven parts feel forced and out of place in terms of the rest of the film. Also, his whole ending with Thor is a little unearned and comes too quickly.
As for everyone else, they pretty much stick with comedy and it’s not always a benefit. After having big breakouts in Ragnarök, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (voiced by Waititi) are nothing more than simple comedic relief. Korg is basically just an excuse for Waititi to be in these movies and Valkyrie just kind of tags along on the adventure with no real purpose. It’s a shame that we don’t really get to see much of New Asgard or how it fits into the world now and not delving more into more of one of the most interesting additions to the MCU’s Earth is disappointing. To be honest, it’s also a waste for Love and Thunder to head to Omnipotence, the city of the gods, since it barely impacts the movie and simply just sets up a sequel enemy. The city and its pompous leader Zeus (Russell Crowe) make no meaningful impression and it simply feels like an unnecessary detour.
As for Jane and Thor, they have interesting arcs, but their story isn’t all that intriguing. Honesty, the reasoning behind Jane becoming Thor is flimsy at best and it’s a shame that she’s gets brought back like this just for a swift end. While its awesome to see how Jane uses Mjolnir’s cracked state in fights and it certainly feels fulfilling to see Portman get this power, it ultimately becomes bittersweet. Rather than Jane’s entry as Thor feel like a prominent new player in the MCU being introduced, she’s just a steppingstone for Thor. Her illness story definitely carries some good emotion elevated by Portman’s performance, but you can’t help but feel a little duped by how Jane is used in the film.
With Thor, himself, it rarely feels like there’s much change happening with him. His bro humor does have its charm, but mostly leads to his schtick getting old. Like I said, this film feels like it resets Thor back to his old ways and while that leads to funny moments, you constantly wish there was just something more to Thor than just being funny. The film’s ending does present the possibility of Thor changing as he goes through more sentimental heartbreak and takes on new responsibilities in his life, but that comes a little too late.
Love and Thunder continues to show that Waititi can make Thor funny and the film has some strong style and story moments, but ultimately feels like a forgettable and inconsistent experience. Love and Thunder really doesn’t live up to its potential and relies too much on comedy to get by, which is what makes it often fail as it tries to do something more.