The “Thor” movie franchise has been all over the place, with its first film being a standard but still very good superhero origin film, its second entry (“The Dark World”) being a dark and damper, but underrated film that I think gets too much hate, and its third entry, “Ragnarok,” was a huge creative departure from the first two thanks to the creative bizarreness of director Taika Waititi. “Thor: Love and Thunder” is a second outing for Waititi and the fourth feature film in the series for lead Chris Hemsworth, and as such, it leans a lot more into the weirdness of “Ragnarok” than the bold, serious tone of the first two films.
The film opens with an introduction to our villain, Gorr (Christian Bale), whom we see trudge through an alien desert with his daughter, Love (India Hemsworth). Gorr pleads to his god, Rapu (Jonathan Brugh), who ignores his calls, allowing his daughter to die. On the brink of death, Rapu does appear before him, but it is not to save Gorr, but rather to gloat over having killed the wielder of the Necrosword, an object that can kill gods and possess the wielder to eradicate them, though the wielder is eventually poisoned by the sword. Rapu tells Gorr that he is not important and that there was never any reward for worshipping him; he was using him all along. Enraged, Gorr renounced Rapu, which prompts the god to try to kill him. At that moment, the Necrosword chooses Gorr, who uses it to kill him. He is then off to kill all the gods by reaching the center of the universe where an ancient being sleeps that will grant anyone one wish.
We then cut to one of Thor’s adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy, which is over the top and silly, as Thor proves to be a one-man army. Since the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” he’s gotten in shape, and while Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) has clearly warmed up to him a bit, he jumps at the chance to split up with Thor when he finds out about Gorr, who is killing off his God friends and leaving their realms undefended.
Gorr eventually goes to New Asgard on Earth in hopes of drawing out Thor, which he does. King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor’s ex-girlfriend, come to New Asgard’s aid and assist in the battle. Mjolnir, Thor’s old hammer that was shattered in the previous film, called out to Foster when she was diagnosed with cancer, and can transform her into a form known as Mighty Thor, which has similar powers to Thor pre-“Ragnarok,” before he got to the point where he could control lightning without his hammer.
Thor and Foster broke things off before “Ragnarok,” with Foster dumping Thor, and this understandably gives him confidence issues, which constitutes much of the film’s comedy, which gets more of the focus than previous films. There’s nothing wrong with that — it feels like Waititi was given full creative control to make the film he wanted, and what we got is a funny and weird installment in the “Thor” franchise that still has an emotional core to it.
Gorr, unable to beat Thor, Foster and Valkyrie, uses the shadow powers of the Necrosword to kidnap New Asgard’s children, and the rest of the film constitutes the three, as well as Korg (Waititi) from “Ragnarok,” going on a journey to get them back.
On the way, they go to the Omnipotence City, a city of gods, where they plead to Zeus (Russell Crowe) for assistance, which he refused to give. The sequence is hilarious and proves Gorr’s belief that many gods in the MCU are unworthy of their power and are horrible, selfish beings.
As a whole, what works the best in this film is its action, art style, cinematography and humor. Thor and Foster’s story works and it’s great to see them work through many complex emotions from the previous implosion of their relationship, I just wished we saw more of it in the film. Foster in particular should have gotten more time in the spotlight, as the film freely puts her story on hold to focus on Thor. Like other recent Marvel projects, this should have been a passing-of-the-torch film, as Thor’s journey as a character is almost complete as soon as this film begins, and there’s nowhere else for him to go as a character after it, other than some sort of supporting role.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” is a goofy, fun time that will pull at your heartstrings, but it fails to reach the lofty heights “Ragnarok” did. Still, it’s a solid entry into the MCU’s fourth phase, and is easily the second best film pertaining to it, only being outmatched by “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Will there be a Thor 5? I’m not sure there needs to be one, but if it does happen it should be a well-deserved sendoff to Hemsworth’s Thor. He’s had perhaps the most unique journey of the original members of the Avengers, and I think he deserves a meaningful last adventure.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” gets an 8/10