Thor: Love and Thunder
Thor: Love and Thunder 2022
It’s time for yet another new Marvel movie and while I did manage to get out to see this movie opening weekend, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write about it until now. I did however speak my thoughts on a recent Lambcast so you can hear more of my opinion along with 4 other Lamb members. I went into this movie hearing a fair mix of things, several people compared it negatively against Ragnarok so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to get into. For the most part, I loved this film in a similar manner as Ragnarok and while I do see the complaints, they didn’t detract from the film too much for me. Not only that, but I felt like this had a much better emotional throughline for several of the characters. And since this is a new release, I’m always compelled to issue a spoiler warning and there are several things to spoil that have been left out of the trailers so be warned.
The first thing that should be mentioned about this movie is the sense of humor. It is very much in the Taika Waititi vein only ramped up from Ragnarok. There are plenty of moments of silliness especially surrounding the jealousy between Thor and his weapons. Thor is jealous of Jane because Mjolnir put itself back together for her, and Stormbreaker is jealous of Mjolnir because of how much Thor openly wants his old weapon back. This is where the silliness goes a bit over the top, but at the same time there is one moment that is timed to perfection where Stormbreaker is hovering just on the right side of the frame for several seconds before Thor notices it. That level of personification of the weapons was just a little bit too much, but it’s not a large portion of the film. The other low point of humor was the flashback montage of Thor and Jane’s relationship breaking down, there were a few decent moments but it took away from the emotional punch the scene was intending to have. Korg was another slight point of contention, he is great but generally in smaller doses. He has a much larger role in this film and he takes the role of the narrator at several points. Not only that, but it calls into question that he might be an unreliable narrator as he recounts Thor’s last mission with the Guardians of the Galaxy considering he gets Jane’s name wrong more than once.
Where this film succeeds are the emotional character arcs of Gorr and Jane. We are actually first introduced to Gorr and his daughter travelling through a wasteland looking for food and water while praying to their god to save them. After his daughter dies, he finds an oasis containing his god along with a god-killing Necrosword and its previous wielder. The sword, like Mjolnir and Stormbreaker is semi-sentient and chooses Gorr by speaking to him. His god is clearly a selfish entity only interested in being praised despite the fact that there is no one left to praise him. Disillusioned and corrupted by the Necrosword, he ends up killing hundreds of gods until he gets to New Asgard. While the arc makes sense, we are shown his kills through the Guardians looking up distress calls and seeing hundreds of them, and many of them are implied to be about dead gods. And yet, Thor, Valkyrie, and newly-powered Jane aka the Mighty Thor seem to be a match for him but also it seems like he’s just toying with them. Again, this doesn’t make sense compared to the fact that we were just shown that he’s on a quest to kill as many gods as quickly as possible. We later learn that his goal with Thor is also to obtain Stormbreaker and its ability to summon the Bifrost. But once again, this goal could easily be accomplished without toying with the Asgardians since we see him able to immobilize Thor where he could have easily killed him, yet instead Gorr spares him. And while the journey is questionable, the end scene where Gorr gives up his quest by being inspired to bring back his daughter is extremely well handled with the right amount of touching followed up by some nice comedy in the final scene.
Meanwhile, Jane has her own great arc in this film. While it was kept out of the trailers, they do follow the comic storyline where Jane has cancer and goes to New Asgard for a potentially mystical cure. Instead she finds the broken Mjolnir who responds to her based on Thor’s request to always protect her, something we see during the relationship flashback montage. While wielding Mjolnir, Jane is given the godly physique and ability to not only control and wield Mjolnir as a hammer, she is also able to control its still shattered pieces individually in some great action moments during their battles. Unfortunately, that power is only temporary and her mortal body isn’t built to handle it and fight off the cancer at the same time so being the Mighty Thor brings her closer to death each time until she makes the final sacrifice to join Thor in the climactic battle with Gorr instead of staying on Earth in standard cancer treatment. Describing it here briefly doesn’t do this justice and Natalie Portman really shines in her return to the MCU, making Jane a badass in her own right but also handling this emotional arc and the rekindling of her relationship with Thor.
It’s interesting that Thor is the first Marvel character to get their own fourth solo film. Especially as the first two Thor films aren’t considered upper MCU, but it’s likely tied to the fact that Chris Hemsworth is a fan of the role and has recently said that he will keep making Thor movies as long as the MCU is willing to keep writing them. This could have been a passing-the-torch movie, and in a way it is. It’s not passing the torch to the Mighty Thor even though that would have been great to see, and with the introduction of Valhalla in the post-credit sequence it doesn’t mean that this is the final appearance of the Mighty Thor. But this film is about passing things onto your children. The children of Asgard are all kidnapped by Gorr and are empowered by Thor during the final battle in a fantastic moment. Plus we have Gorr’s child Love introduced as an ass-kicking super-powered being just before the credits in a great title drop that makes you go “oh, that’s what the movie’s subtitle means.” We even have Korg find someone to make his own rock-baby with in a very pride-positive moment as his race is either all male, or at least procreates in male/male pairings. The film overall is fairly evenly split between serious moments and comedy, and how that mix resonates with you will vary from person to person. I’m mostly in favor of the choices with only a few low points and a handful of nitpicks that didn’t impact the enjoyment of the film very much. Still a high point in the recent MCU filmography. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.