Thor: Love and Thunder launches the God of Thunder into new territory as the only member of the Avengers team to receive a fourth solo outing. That’s a pretty significant achievement that puts Chris Hemsworth dangerously close to breaking Hugh Jackman’s record for the longest length of time spent playing a Marvel character in film (nearly 17 years as Wolverine). But when you spend such a large portion of your life devoted to a single character’s arc, there are bound to be a few dips in quality. Not every entry can be as euphoric as a visit to Valhalla. So, where does Thor: Love and Thunder land on the totem pole of quality? At the bottom with X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Or perched proudly at the top with Logan?
It’s certainly on the upper half of that spectrum, but is pulled down by an over reliance on the one thing that made Thor such a great character: Comedy. Thor is better when he’s funny. Writer and Director Taika Waititi proved that with Thor: Ragnarok, which was a significant improvement over the previous two entries. During a recent press conference for Thor: Love and Thunder, Waititi spoke about the decision to make Thor a more relatable and comedic character, based largely on Hemsworth’s own sense of humor. However, too much of a good thing can quickly turn a delicious bowl of fruit into sour grapes. When the jokes never stop coming, they lose their punch.
In a way, Thor loses the “Mighty” aspect of his title “The Mighty Thor.” Gone are the qualities of leadership, confidence and the ability to instill intimidation into the hearts of his foes; replaced with the continuously growing buffoonery and idiocy that the character has come to be known for. If it seems I’m being harsh, it’s only because this film is really quite good. Very good, in fact. And it comes so close to achieving the status of a top tier MCU film, if it could only break free from the few chains that hold it back.
Thor: Love and Thunder‘s greatest strength is Natalie Portman as the newest iteration of The Mighty Thor. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) returns to the main cast with a newfound significance. Her turn as the Mjolnir wielding, bicep flexing, hero of her own story is meaningful, powerful and purposeful. There will no doubt be backlash from the internet trolls and keyboard warriors, chanting “Go woke, go broke!” from the grease soaked keyboards of their mother’s computer. But nothing about Jane’s arc ever feels forced. She flies onto the screen with a natural charisma and screen presence that demands to be watched, and her interactions with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) are some of the best moments in the film.
Christian Bale enters the MCU with a villainous poison as Gorr the God Butcher. From the early moments of Thor: Love and Thunder, Gorr seems poised to be a worthy rival to one of Earth’s mightiest heroes; fully prepared to take his place as one of the greatest villains the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer. However, as the film carries on, they fail to take Gorr in a direction that offers anything new or meaningful. He never feels like a large scale villain.
When Thor: Love and Thunder is great, it’s really great. And it often fires on all cylinders, full throttle and pumped with adrenaline. Those moments are balanced with a great deal of heart and examination of acceptance, love and moving on. Heart and humor are, after all, Waititi’s specialty. But those moment’s of awesomeness are held down by the weighted chains of its flaws. And unfortunately those flaws, primarily it’s over reliance on humor and failing to properly utilize Gorr, makes this a very good Thor, just not a Mighty Thor. 7.5/10