Having been a mainstay of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011, Thor has become one of the best-loved characters in comic book movie history. Over the years, he has battled alongside the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk; he has locked heads with his troublesome half-brother Loki; and he has had adventures all over the galaxy.
Today, Thor returns to the big screen with a new story, via the action-adventure comedy, Thor: Love and Thunder. The movie – directed by Taika Waititi – is the 29th film in the MCU, and sees the eponymous thunder god take on a new foe in the shape of Gorr the God Butcher.
Picking up sometime after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor is off in space working with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Together, the team fight the good fight, protecting those who can’t protect themselves, while causing a bit of chaos along the way.
While on a mission with the Guardians, Thor becomes aware that a worrying new villain has risen up and is killing gods. That villain is Gorr – a once peaceful man who has turned to the darkside following the death of his daughter.
With Gorr posing a very serious threat to all the Gods in existence, Thor returns to Earth to reconnect with his fellow Asgardians. However, upon his return he quickly discovers that Gorr is already in the process of attacking New Asgard, putting his friends in danger.
But seeing Gorr in action is just one of the surprises in store for Thor. The other surprise is the introduction of a new ally, calling herself The Mighty Thor.
However, this new hero is someone Thor is already familiar with, as in reality she is Dr. Jane Foster – Thor’s ex-girlfriend. Thanks to some magical hoopla involving Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, Jane now has the powers of a thunder god.
Working with Jane, as well his friends King Valkyrie and Korg, Thor sets out to defeat Gorr, attempting to enlist the assistance of other gods along the way. But little does he know that Jane is harbouring another secret: She has Stage 4 cancer and her life is coming to an end.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Christian Bale, and Russell Crowe, Thor: Love and Thunder is without doubt the daftest, craziest, zaniest, and funniest Marvel movie to date. It is also a movie which many will love, although some may find a little too over-the-top for their tastes.
I’m playing my hand early here, by saying that I absolutely love Thor: Love and Thunder. I don’t think it is a perfect movie, and I will flag up a couple of its faults shortly, but from start to finish I had a complete and utter blast watching this film and I genuinely believe it is a thoroughly entertaining, rip-roarin’ romp, that is worth the cost of a cinema ticket and then some!
At no point watching this movie was I bored. At no point did I not enjoy what I was seeing on screen. And at no point did I think this movie was anything less than fun.
This film is visually arresting, occasionally emotional, and at all times a complete hoot and a half! It is also utterly bonkers, often quite weird, but watching it is a fine way to spend two hours of your time.
It feels redundant to keep saying this, but we’re now 14 years into the MCU, and almost 30 movies deep, and yet this film universe continues to offer excitement, adventure, and incredible escapism. And that is what Thor: Love and Thunder is really all about.
So, going into this movie you should expect to have your eyeballs excited, your brain buffed, and your synapses scintillated. The film will also find ways to tickle your ribs and give your funny bone a workout.
Does all of this result in an overload of the senses and a complete meltdown of your mind? Quite possibly, but boy, what an experience to have!
Regardless of how you ultimately feel about Thor: Love and Thunder, and I know some may not share my enthusiasm, once you’ve seen it, I challenge anyone to say it is anything less than creative. This whole film is a tour de force of ideas, imagery, and imagination, and is easily one of the most comic book-y Marvel movies so far.
If I was to describe Thor: Love and Thunder in terms of movies, I would say it is Flash Gordon mixed with Masters of the Universe, Bill & Ted, Clash of the Titans, and The Seventh Seal. In many respects it is a love-letter to the ‘80s, specifically adventure films of that era, and it is as silly and wonderful as you might expect.
The film is directed by Taika Waititi, who previously helmed Thor: Ragnarok (2017), so if you loved that film then you will find shades of it here too. However, I should point out that if Ragnarok was just the right amount of Waititi for you, then be warned that Love and Thunder is Waititi cranked up to eleven.
Thor: Love and Thunder is gag after gag, after gag. At times it feels like the audience is not just being treated to a Waititi film, but also a window into his warped mind.
I mostly liked the level of humour on display in this movie, but be aware, it really is a lot. I expect those who don’t enjoy the film will probably point to the silliness as their biggest issue.
However, while gags fill the screen at most opportunities, this film does have a lot of heart too. Peel back the jokes and japes, and there are some interesting stories about love and loss.
The most notable of these stories, relates to Jane Foster, who as previously noted, is a character who is both a super hero in this movie, and someone who is living with terminal cancer. During the course of the film, it is established that she can transform into Thor, thus temporarily putting her dire health on hold, but every time she changes back into human form, it pushes her closer to death.
This makes for a very interesting dilemma and provides a great juxtaposition of happiness and health in the film. By becoming Thor, Jane can regain control over her life, and harness the power of a god, but it is ultimately very detrimental to her condition and her lifespan.
As you might expect, Jane’s cancer storyline also segues into a discussion about power and responsibility, whereby Jane has to weigh up the importance of the greater good, over her own mortality. The question soon becomes: Should she give up her life to save others?
Jane’s story is lifted directly from the comics, and more specifically, from stories by comic book writer Jason Aaron (check them out if you can). As someone who has read those comics, it is great to see this story play out on the big screen, and I am pleased to say it is handled carefully, to ensure Jane’s story is told with respect.
It is here that I should also drop some praise on Natalie Portman who really brings Jane to life. She is superb in the role, and she manages to take a character who was completely wasted in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, and transform her physically and spiritually into a bad-ass fighter.
Now, I said there are some interesting stories (plural) in Thor: Love and Thunder, because it isn’t just Natalie Portman who gets some strong material, it is Christian Bale too. Bale takes on the role of the villainous Gorr the God Butcher, and bloomin’ heck, he gets some good stuff.
The important thing about Gorr is that he has a very clear motivation throughout this movie, and this is tied very deeply into the theme of love and loss. So, at every point in the film it is entirely understandable why he does the things he does, and this makes for a compelling plot thread.
What then elevates the thread is Bale himself, who is really strong in this film. He takes what could have easily been a one-note villain, and delivers this incredible performance which is sometimes sad, but most times creepy! Small children will find him terrifying. I’m not a small child, although I’m fairly small in stature, and I found him pant-wettingly frightening at times.
Sticking with the theme of stellar acting (i.e. Portman and Bale), I would be doing Chris Hemsworth a disservice if I didn’t point out how good he is in this film too. Natalie Portman and Christian Bale are indeed superb, but Hemsworth is fantastic and a real gem in this movie.
Hemsworth is a very likeable actor, with great comedic sensibilities, and he has demonstrated this on screen in various movies previously (Thor: Ragnarok, Ghostbusters 2016, etc). In Thor: Love and Thunder he gets to take this up another notch, to make Thor even funnier and even more affable than ever before.
Hemsworth could have easily retired from the role of Thor in Avengers: Endgame, but he wanted to keep on going, and I am so glad that he did. He seems to be having so much fun playing this character on the big screen, and that comes across with every wink, nod, and flash of his smile.
Now, I did say that Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t perfect, and as mentioned above, it does lean perhaps a little too much into joke territory for its own good. Some times too much humour can be tiresome, and maybe pulling back a bit here and there would not have been a bad thing.
The film also has a bit of clunky writing, which throws off the pace a tad. It’s never hugely problematic, it just stops the whole thing from running quite as smoothly as it should.
But these things are minor issues for me. Ultimately, I spent two hours with this film and I was entertained throughout.
Before I finish off this review, I want to share something personal, which I believe might explain why I connect with this film the way I do. Just under two weeks ago, my mother passed away having fought a three-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.
She was a great person and a big supporter of me, and of my blog. She also used to read my film reviews quite regularly, and I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult the past couple of weeks have been without her.
The reason I am talking about this here, is because of how much I believe personal experiences connect to watching films. I believe our own experiences can change the way we view a story, and this is certainly true on this occasion.
Today when I went to the cinema to watch Thor: Love and Thunder I simply wanted some escapism and entertainment, at a point in my life when I’m having a really hard time. Thor: Love and Thunder gave me that escapism and entertainment, and for that alone, I am truly grateful.
But the film also gave me a story about someone fighting cancer, which is a story that some might think I would not want to see at this time, but I’m glad I watched this film today. The fight seen on screen, and the grit and determination etched on Jane Foster’s face, felt very familiar to me, and echoed my mother’s journey over these past few years.
Thor: Love and Thunder took something so real, and so horrible, brought it into the fantasy realm, but never lost sight of the person or the pain connected to this dreadful illness. As previously mentioned, this aspect of the story was handled with respect.
Because of the way it was handled, for a brief moment today, I could see the super hero that lived inside my mother, forever fighting the good fight. This is something which I’ll never forget.