Tugging at the Heartstrings in THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER
Since 2011, Thor portrayed by Chris Hemsworth has appeared in eight Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) features, and is the first MCU character to helm four solo franchise films. The latest feature Thor: Love and Thunder is directed by Taika Waititi from a screenplay by Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. Waititi made his MCU directorial debut in 2017 with the comedic adventure Thor: Ragnarok.
In the latest installment, the God of Thunder sets out on a journey unlike any other he’s faced. He’s declared that his superhero days are over and he takes on self-exploration in this fresh take on one of Marvel's most beloved superheroes.
Thor’s introspection is quickly disrupted, as a terrifying new adversary threatens to destroy the galaxy - Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. Gorr is advancing his war against the gods and is headed straight for the village of New Asgard.
Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) of New Asgard. She has grown tired of her leadership position and quickly agrees to reunite with Thor in battle against the God Butcher. They are aided by Thor’s faithful humanoid companion, Kronan warrior Korg – voiced and motion-captured by director Taika Waititi himself. The plot twists as they are joined by The Mighty Thor, who turns out to be Thor’s ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) wielding his magical hammer, Mjolnir. Together the team ventures out on a precarious journey across the cosmos to stop the God Butcher’s war against the gods and rescue the kidnapped children of New Asgard.
The character development of Thor: Love and Thunder continues the evolution of its main characters. Waititi and Robinson reinvent Thor in a manner that is engaging and entertaining. Chris Hemsworth remains compelling as Thor, as he’s matured from an arrogant and privileged son of Odin and an otherworldly being with godlike powers to a superhero who’s learned humility.
Natalie Portman masterfully tackles the duality of two personalities – the cancer-stricken Jane Foster who is desperately trying to find a cure, and the light-hearted and forceful Mighty Thor.
The evolution of her character from being the cerebral astrophysicist who must be saved by Thor to a heroine who faces her own struggles with survival is skillfully displayed in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Thor has faced off against countless enemies including Thanos to his sister Hela, the Goddess of Death, but no antagonist has been more complex and fascinating than Gorr the God Butcher. Betrayed by his god and crushed by tragedy, the once pious Gorr is fueled by a rage that evokes an evil, ancient power. His anger wells from profound loss and sadness.
Bale brings depth and cohesion to Gorr, representing the dichotomy of his character.
Other noteworthy performances in Thor: Love and Thunder include Russell Crowe as Zeus, King of the Gods, as well as a brief appearance by the Guardians of the Galaxy — Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket.
Thor: Love and Thunder continues the tradition of MCU world-building imagery and action, with colorful creatures from different worlds. The creative team includes Emmy-winning director of photography Baz Idoine (The Mandalorian, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story); creature and prosthetic designer Adam Johansen (Mad Max: Fury Road, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tale); costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo (Avatar, Apocalypto); visual effects supervisor/second unit director Jake Morrison (Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man, Thor: The Dark World); and stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner (Thor: Ragnarok, Alien: Covenant).
The themes of identity, love and loss carry throughout the film - not just for Thor and Jane Foster, but also for Gorr. The reveal of Jane and Thor’s relationship is light-hearted and humorous, enhanced by Korg’s narrative storytelling, counteracting the reality of Jane's terminal illness.
While the pacing is a bit uneven at times, the plotting works sufficiently. Thor: Love and Thunder hits the mark as a well-balanced and entertaining successor, with heart and humor firmly rooted in this cosmic action adventure.