I have not had a more frustrating experience at the movies in 2022 than I had with Thor Love and Thunder, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What made the film so frustrating was that it brought the MCU back to a place that it had not been in for what feels like forever but the film was made with such little passion and focus that it ended up not being a very good film and one my least favorites in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The MCU is known for its connected universe and has made a living off of surprise cameos and post-credit scenes since its incarnation with 2008’s Iron Man. With the last batch of MCU movies, especially in their current Phase, Phase 4, it has felt like most of the movies were merely stepping stones into the next movie, show, or new character (like Black Widow) or were conclusions to certain story arcs that started in a previous show or movie (like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). The movies in Phase 4 never felt like they focused on the characters or the story of the film at hand, but only cared about moving the universe forward.
Thor Love and Thunder is purely a Thor movie and follows the story of Thor, who we last saw with a beer gut and Lebowski beard in Avengers: Endgame. You don’t need to watch any of the new MCU Disney+ shows or have seen any of the new movies to understand what is going on in the movie. You’ll recognize every character in the film and while the marketing of the film shows the Guardians of the Galaxy in the film, they only have a small part and exit the movie early on, which allows the film to focus on the core characters of the Thor universe.
Thor Love and Thunder gives us an expositional beginning with a story from Korg (voiced by director Taika Waititi) explaining where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in his life. Following the events of Endgame, Thor hitched a ride with the Guardians of the Galaxy and has been roaming space with them, saving planets in battle while also working on getting back into “God” shape. Despite getting back in shape and feeling at peace with himself, there is still something Thor yearns for: love, specifically Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
On Earth, Jane has been diagnosed with stage four cancer and is on her last leg. In an act of desperation, she goes to the new Asgard, which is being overseen by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and sees that Mjölnir, still shattered from Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, finds her worthy of holding and gives her the power of Lady Thor, giving her all the powers of Thor and temporarily stopping the cancer.
Thor and Jane find each other during an attack on Asgard by Goor the God Killer (Christian Bale), who, like his name says, wants to kill all the Gods in the galaxy. Despite Jane’s health, she teams up with Thor and Valkyrie to travel the galaxy and try and stop Goor while also rekindling past feelings she and Thor may have had.
Everything about Waititi’s direction in Love and Thunder felt like he was just trying to rehash what he did in Ragnarok without adding anything new or interesting. The result is like reheating a steak made by Gordon Ramsey in the microwave. Despite the effort, a minimal effort at that, to recreate what was good before, it ends up not being very good. Waititi’s writing and direction are stale. It felt like there was no life or energy to the film, giving the film a very by-the-numbers feel, which is rather disappointing coming from the Oscar-winning Waititi. The characters are underwritten with very little depth or expansion of who they were at the beginning of the movie. Goor is very one-note despite a spectacular and terrifying performance from Bale and I wish the movie showed us more of him because he was easily the most interesting aspect of the film. The jokes are few and far between, the action sequences are quick and boring, and the visual effects are some of the worst in the MCU.
This was a very unfortunate film-going experience. I liked that it was an isolated sequel about Thor and not one that followed the events of a different movie or one of the Disney+ TV shows. I just wish the film was better because Thor Love and Thunder is one of my least favorite movies in the MCU.
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