‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ is a massive disappointment


Following the smash hit that was “Thor: Ragnarok” in 2017, fans of Marvel had been eagerly anticipating acclaimed director Taika Waititi’s continuation of the God of Thunder’s story, “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Thor is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe character to receive a fourth solo film, so “Love and Thunder” had huge expectations to fill from the moment it was announced. The film centers around Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who is struggling with his life’s purpose after the triumphs and losses he faced in the previous 11 years of Marvel films, while also rekindling his bond with his former lover, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

Additionally, the acclaimed actor Christian Bale was cast as the villain of “Love and Thunder,” Gorr the God Butcher, a sinister threat that served to build up the excitement of fans from the get-go. “Love and Thunder” continued the more comedic, lighthearted tone that Ragnarok introduced to the Thor saga, another staple of Waititi’s work. However, the fourth entry in Thor’s story fell far short of its predecessor, and ended up a jumbled mess of misused and poorly written comedy combined with awful character writing, leaving it as one of the weaker entries in the Marvel saga.

“Love and Thunder’s” first failure was its over-emphasis on slapstick comedy even at the expense of character moments and dramatic scenes. There are multiple occasions in which dramatic character moments that are crucial to the development of the story are either cut off or dragged out by awful usage of jokes by the main characters. Additionally, there are some scenes that seem as if they were added simply to inject more comedy in a film that is already lighthearted in tone. While there is no problem with funny moments in an action-adventure film, the real issue arises when the characters of the film, specifically Thor himself, aren’t given time to develop in a serious manner.

When the film makes almost every scene a joke, it is hard to invest in Thor’s journey or the stakes of the plot at all, since every time something serious could occur to our characters, the scene is undercut by comedy. In contrast, “Ragnarok” was vastly superior to “Love and Thunder” in this aspect because while it still used comedy to its advantage, it didn’t turn Thor into a seemingly idiotic muscle-man and instead opted to let him have serious character moments that studied his grief and guilt. Because of this tonal issue, the film comes off as boring and pointless, and Thor is so plagued by these constant jokes that it almost makes him annoying to watch, which is a huge turnaround from how fantastic he was in the previous few years of marvel films.

Another problem with “Love and Thunder” is the under-usage of its stellar supporting cast. While Jane is given a lot of screen-time, she is very rarely given any emotional or raw scenes for oscar-winner Natalie Portman to show off her abilities, and is often reduced to Thor’s funny sidekick and love interest. Even more shockingly, there is quite a serious twist to Jane’s circumstances as a character at the start of the movie, but Jane’s seeming peril is rarely given any emotional weight by the film, once again being undercut by jokes.

Tessa Thompson is once again very charismatic as Valkyrie, but she is barely given any screen-time and her position as ruler of New Asgard is wasted completely as a storyline. Russell Crowe makes a great small appearance as Zeus, but barely sticks around to make a real impact on the film. The real standout of “Love and Thunder’s” cast is Christian Bale, who predictably turns out a great performance as the villainous God Butcher. In fact, the only scenes in the film where the stakes and seriousness are not weakened by needless comedy are the scenes focused around the God Butcher, as he carries out his villainous yet reasonable quest to end godhood itself. Bale gives a fantastic performance as the seething, enraged and vengeance-crazed Gorr. However, he isn’t given enough screen-time to let the villain interact with the heroes he’s fighting more. While “Love and Thunder’s” character writing is often dull, it is mostly redeemed by the stellar charisma and performances that its supporting cast bring to the table.

“Love and Thunder’s” ultimate downfall is a simple yet grave issue: despite its excessive use of humor, it isn’t very funny. Instead of using well written banter that plays off of the strength of each actor like in “Ragnarok,” this film chooses to turn the characters into one-dimensional, idiotic versions of themselves in order to employ slapstick comedy. Also, the movie tends to make the same jokes over and over again, so if one doesn’t work, it’s probably going to be reused or called back to later on, worsening the problem. However, the charisma of actors like Hemsworth redeems some of these awful jokes.

While “Love and Thunder” is a massive, lukewarm disappointment, it isn’t really a terrible movie. It’s charming at times, and the charm of the cast carries some of the weakly written portions of the film. The Thor-Gorr conflict is strong, the soundtrack is near-perfect and there are not many complaints to make visually. It expands the Marvel universe well and sets Thor up well for future films. However, the end result of Thor 4 is still very mediocre.

Grade: C+