Running time: 119 minutes
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Taika Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Cast: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Christian Bale (Gorr the God Butcher), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Jaimie Alexander (Sif), Taika Waititi (Korg), Russell Crowe (Zeus), Natalie Portman (Mighty Thor/Jane Foster), and the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper).
Three and a half stars
Thor: Love and Thunder hits cinemas 7 July, 2022.
Unless you're an Asgardian, you're not going to have thunder god powers — so let's get that out of the way. What Thor: Love and Thunder asks is this: without love in your life (or thunder god powers, which nobody has), what is your raison d'etre? What horrible thing would you make as the focal point of your existence, as Star Lord (Chris Pratt) asks Thor (Chris Hemsworth) at one point? And that is seemingly what propels Thor on his journey across cosmos and the various realms it holds as he goes in search of his answer.
Thor: Love and Thunder is a superhero movie that is the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and part of Phase Four of the MCU. It sees Thor battling a new supervillain, Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), as he is joined by allies old and new. But ultimately, Thor learns that love — and not just the romantic kind — is truly the answer to all ills.
In a film about love, you'd expect that Thor's love interest — Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), would make a return, right? And she does, as a being almost equal to Thor in power — the Mighty Thor, empowered by a weapon thought destroyed in earlier films. And it's fun to see Thor and the Mighty Thor fight side-by-side, since she no longer plays the damsel-in-distress role, but comes to save Thor's skin on more than one occasion.
But her appearance does more ill than good, at least in the first half of the movie. It causes Thor to have doubts about himself — you know, the selfsame Thor who decapitated Thanos in Avengers: Endgame and tanked a star to forge Stormbreaker in Avengers: Infinity War? And it's fun to see a nigh-omnipotent being plagued with issues of existentialism and facing a mid-life crisis. Aren't these the stuff of mortal woes?
Yet, in an era where we've been ravaged by a pandemic (kinda like the post-Snap world of MCU Phase Four) and where "languishing" describes our feelings nowadays, isn't it more apt than ever? To see a god, no less, trying to figure out what it is he wants in life and what's important? Love may be universal, yes, but so is the eternal question of the meaning of life. Why do we live and what do we live for? That is what Thor: Love and Thunder asks, and the answer is love (the answer is also thunder, but again, not feasible for us mortals).
For buffs of MCU's multi-movie serialised storylines... sorry, Thor: Love and Thunder will disappoint. It undoes a lot of what earlier movies have done, such as the destruction of an aforementioned powerful weapon in a Phase Three movie. It does lampshade the repeated deaths of Loki in Thor: The Dark World and Thor (and other times too), but it doesn't undo his deaths — for which, given the number of things it undoes in previous movies, we should be grateful for (especially since Loki's variant is currently running around post-Loki). Then again, the number of plotholes are staggering — which is to be expected, because any film that deals with divine and cosmic power will always run into the question of: where were you when Thanos attacked?
It tries to recapture the fun of Thor: Ragnarok, to varying degrees — there's a giant arena scene, realms spanning adventures, and some characters get grievous injuries. Nevertheless, it can feel like it's trying to repeat the success of what's past rather than venturing into fresh new territory. Then again, since Waititi (who directed Thor: Ragnarok) is at the directing helm again, it makes sense that we'd get more of the same with Thor: Ragnarok. It's definitely colourful, but not as colourful as expectations had made it out to be.
But Thor and the Mighty Thor's new costumes are lovely, and with the transition into Phase Four — more elaborate and larger-than-life costumes definitely fit the direction that the MCU is headed in. Just look at WandaVision for an idea of how far the MCU is willing to go to homage the look of the comics. They are truly befitting of the garb of the gods, and as the film shows, the gods have a very special place in the multiverse.
Ultimately, Thor: Love and Thunder posits a very relevant question in our world, that of meaning and existence. A Thor film definitely couldn't have pulled this off pre-pandemic — so perhaps it is serendipity that such a subject matter was chosen for a film that came out at such an apropos time. As with all MCU films, stay for two post-credit scenes that aren't critical, but are still fun to watch nevertheless.