Released: 6th July
Seen: 6th July
The Thor movies are possibly the franchise in the MCU that’s had the weirdest trajectory. The first Thor movie was fine, a Shakespearean epic that was helmed by Kenneth Branagh who clearly leaned into the overly dramatic elements (quite literally leaning in with half the shots being Dutch angles), the second Thor movie is widely considered one of the worst of the MCU and kind of felt like it would be the end of the Thor movies as we know them… and then out came Ragnarok with its bold colour palette and love of 70s heavy metal music, turning Thor from the insanely serious character he’d been up to that point into a jovial jokester frat bro that everyone came to love. Since Ragnarok went so well, thanks in large part to the work of writer/director Taika Waititi, Thor: Love and Thunder decides to just take what worked about Ragnarok and do it all again. It’s not a bad plan but there are some diminishing returns.
Thor: Love and Thunder picks up shortly after the events of Endgame with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) flying around with the Guardians of the Galaxy on adventures, adventures which at some point included a set of strenuous workouts that enabled Thor to lose his beer belly and turn into the more marketable super ripped Thor that will eventually make gods swoon. Eventually, Thor hears about a being known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) and decides to split away from the Guardians in order to go check on the other god he knows very well, that being Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Upon checking in on the King of Asgard Valkyrie, Thor not only learns that his former girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has been imbued with the powers of mighty Thor but also that Gorr is about to wreak havoc on new Asgard and potentially just kill all the Gods… so, it’s a lot.
Much like Ragnarok, you can tell that Thor: Love And Thunder was made with a desire to be as big and boisterous as possible. From the hard rock soundtrack filled with 80s classics to the colour palette that’s about as bright and gaudy as is humanly possible, everything just pushes straight to 11 and stays there as long as possible. It’s an eyeful, approaching the line of being an eyesore at times, that uses every single square inch of the frame to maximum impact. The only time it really drops the bright colour palette is during a lengthy sequence where everything is in glorious high contrast black and white, and even then, it’s pushed to such a gorgeous extreme that you can tell they really wanted to top the visuals from Ragnarok.
Speaking of things that Thor: Love And Thunder try to top, let’s talk about how gay this film is because it is incredibly gay in a glorious way. From Valkyrie finally getting the on-screen confirmation of her bisexuality that was denied last time to revelations about how Korg’s (Taika Waititi) family structure actually works to just everything to do with Zeus (Russell Crowe) having no qualms about making Thor’s clothing vanish (because apparently, Taika has decided that he will show a man’s ass in every MCU film he directs, he did Hulk last time, Thor’s ass takes up this one, I wonder who’s ass he will put on the big screen next time), the film frequently either plays with imagery that’s very pointedly aimed to a queer audience or just flat out says that it’s going gay shit and loving it. Again, another thing Thor: Love And Thunder tries to top Ragnarok on, because Ragnarok rather infamously was named the gayest MCU film in a very funny Vulture article… yeah, if that article ever gets redone, Love and Thunder out-gays it by a lot.
However it’s not all gay camp hijinks, Thor: Love And Thunder also knows how to get dark and intense thanks largely to the terrifying performance by Christian Bale who relishes every second of screentime he has. His character is clearly broken, learning that Gods don’t actually care will do that to a man, but watching just how insane he truly is can make for some captivating sequences and every chance Bale has to just devour some scenery is a chance he will take. His monologues are amazing, he has a visual presence that makes the hair on your neck stand on end just seeing him in the background and there are more than a few points where you will fully believe he’s going to win. It’s a glorious, dark, villainous performance that you only get when you let someone as wildly talented as Christian Bale just go off.
Now, as much as Thor: Love And Thunder is fun, its big problem comes with how it feels like we’re just redoing stuff we did before but with a different coat of paint. I know this is a frequent complaint about the MCU but it’s often wrongly applied. Here it’s more obvious, this is Ragnarok but we’ve replaced Hulk with Jane Foster, Jeff Goldblum with Russell Crowe and Hella with Gorr. Other than that there are a lot of similarities except this one also has to follow Endgame… which really felt like it put an end to most of the main cast’s stories, so this one kinda needs to find a reason for Thor to even bother continuing. That’s basically what the first act of the film has to be, not only getting Thor back into fighting shape but pulling him away from the Guardians and ensuring he has a reason to do anything whatsoever. Those scenes feel like they’re just there because they have to be there in order to get to the fun stuff that the film actually wants to do and could’ve probably used a few more cuts to get it over with quicker so we could get to the good stuff.
If you liked Ragnarok then chances are good you’re going to like Thor: Love and Thunder since they share a ton of DNA and while I will admit that Ragnarok is the superior version, Love and Thunder is still pretty great. It’s head-banging soundtrack combined with stellar visuals and the incredibly game cast makes for an enjoyable time. There’s just a special kind of magic with this creative team and it’s no wonder they’re going to make Thor movies for as long as Chris Hemsworth can somehow maintain that impossible-looking God bod. Thor: Love And Thunder is just a really good time, it’s the MCU doing the high-quality fun stuff they’re the best at.
Also, there are two post-credit scenes, both of which seem important in setting up future movies in this insane little franchise.