Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor the only god to have been a member of the Avengers, perhaps it should be no surprise that he is the first of that august band to have headlined four films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor, The Dark World, Ragnarok and now Love and Thunder, the second Marvel film directed by What We Do in the Shadows‘ Taika Waititi as uncertain of its purpose as the rest of Phase Four’s variable offerings.

Thor last seen departing in the company of the Guardians of the Galaxy following the events of Endgame, the Space Viking is as beautiful and aloof as ever having spent the interim regaining a suitably godlike physique after his slovenly retreat at New Asgard, spending time with Stormbreaker and occasionally becoming involved in suitably divine interventions to enhance the already ridiculous tales told by his friend Korg.

And yet the gods can be capricious, even cruel in their studied indifference; refusing to bow to those who feels abandoned him when he needed them most, the Necrosword has fallen into the vengeful hands of Gorr, grieving for the death of his people and his daughter. Making his way across space he calls himself the God Butcher, and his next destination is New Asgard.

Ragnarok having reinvented Thor’s formerly dour and overladen mythology with cosmic adventure and crazy capers, Love and Thunder presents itself as an uneven chimera of that buoyant levity and the more serious and sinister threat of Gorr, existing only in the shadows which he manipulates and lurking in a realm so devoid of colour it is filmed in monochrome.

Where Ragnarok succeeded was in creating a protagonist as preposterous as the premise and allowing Jeff Goldblum both latitude and altitude in his high camp performance; Gorr offering Christian Bale a role which makes his years as the Dark Knight seem a time of bountiful joy, Love and Thunder fumbles to find its path despite Waititi already having previously demonstrated it is possible to find humour in overcoming the tragedy of genocide with Jojo Rabbit.

Chris Hemsworth now in his eighth outing as Thor, despite indications Love and Thunder would see him teamed with the Guardians of the Galaxy their appearance is only a cameo confirming that Thor’s unrivalled power is matched only by his eagerness and ego and that faith can be as fragile as crystal temples raised to the heavens, the focus instead the unasked-for return of The Phantom Menace’s Natalie Portman as Doctor Jane Foster.

Underwritten in her previous appearances but now having been drawn to the fragments of Mjolnir in New Asgard it has given Foster the powers of the Mighty Thor but her relationship with Thor remains awkward, her inclusion in the film as forced and unconvincing as her non-specific and largely symptomless terminal illness, while Thor’s reaction to her presence becomes one of many jokes which fast becomes stale, the threat of Gorr pushed down on the hierarchy until it almost feels an afterthought.

Despite these numerous distractions the twenty-ninth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just about carried by the moments when it remembers what it should be, the sky paved with rainbows on the journey to Omnipotence City for an audience with Russell Crowe’s pompous Zeus, the strategic deployment of Guns n’ Roses and the sometimes weary friendship of the characters, passing the mantle of storyteller among them from Korg to Heimdall’s son Axl to Thor himself, ultimately rediscovering himself as the god of Love and Thunder.

Thor: Love and Thunder is currently on general release and also screening in IMAX



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