Can everyone just shut the hell up?
Whenever I go see a new MCU movie I’m painfully reminded of how unmemorable many of the MCU films are. Granted I’ve had about the lowest possible productivity on How About Notflix this year, having revved up a whole nine reviews over the course of seven months. Remember when I wrote things? Of course not, nobody reads this website. But that’s not the point. 2022’s lowest rated films are all Marvel titles; Dr. Strange and Morbius. But I like Taika Waititi and I enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok to a certain extent. Will Love & Thunder revive my hopes?
One thing I will say about Love & Thunder is that the film really gets your attention in the first ten minutes or so. We are introduced to the villain of the film, Gorr (Christian Bale) who just so happens to be the last of his people. Having all suffered and sacrificed for their god Rapu (Johnathan Brugh), Gorr finally meets the god he’s given everything for only to come face to face with the fact that Rapu doesn’t care at all for him or his people. Through happenstance, Gorr is bequeathed the power of the Necrosword, a weapon built specifically for killing gods, and is corrupted into setting on a journey to kill all of the gods. Yes, all of the gods.
And then the credits start rolling and we see Taika Waititi’s growing ego on display. I liked Korg in Thor: Ragnarok but his transition from one-off joke to main character has lost him a lot of good will in my book. It wouldn’t surprise me if Korg had the most lines in this film even over Thor, Thor, and Gorr, as he does a lot of ADR narration at various points of the movie. And I like Taika Waititi, but he’s giving us so much ice cream that eventually it’s going to make people sick.
The film does give us an update on what Thor’s been up to with the Guardians of the Galaxy, allowing Chris Pratt and the gang to get a round paycheck before kicking back to Hemsworth as the sole lead for a little bit. I’d be interested to know how much of the Guardians characters were b-roll footage pulled or shot during prior projects and how much of it was actually filmed during this movie. Outside of Starlord, most of the living characters just kinda stand there and stare. Could’ve shot that footage five years ago for all we know.
The big switcheroo of this movie, and this review assumes you’ve seen the trailer, is the reveal of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) as the new wielder of the newly reconstructed Mjolnir. One positive I will say about this film is that they figured out a way to make Mjolnir fresh again. After it was shattered in Thor: Ragnarok, Mjolnir never became whole. Rather Foster Thor can basically turn it into a buckshot weapon, where its pieces scatter and just blow through enemies like hot lead. Jane Foster herself meanwhile has stage four cancer, and the transformations into Thor aren’t exactly helping an already terminal situation.
And then Gorr shows up at new Asgard, kidnaps some children, and hops off, leading to Thor, Korg, Thor, and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to head out on an adventure to save the kids, defeat Gorr, and stop him from killing all the gods. Yep, Tessa Thompson is back. The only person in the MCU who could make Brie Larson look like a charismatic actress. Tessa Thompson can’t act, and her performances as Valkyrie really stretch the definition of phoning it in. She has all the emotional range of Jim Varney’s corpse and when you consider her various tantrums over the past couple years about Hollywood not being diverse enough, she holds her “I’d rather be anywhere but here” face about as well as Bill Murray does in his films. Thompson being surrounded by far more talented actors doesn’t help the situation.
One aspect of the film I did enjoy was the connection between Jane Foster and Gorr. Both were faced with death offering them great power that in itself is killing them, but one went down the path of good and the other was corrupted to an evil fate. Having seen almost everything in the MCU canon, you can almost understand Gorr’s wrath against the gods. If there’s one thing the MCU has done really well, it’s the portrayal of most gods as unworthy of sympathy. The gods of the MCU have repeatedly been shown as a combination of moronic, corrupt, or simply feckless in their approach to the humans they pretend to care about.
Doubly so in Love and Thunder where we actually meet Zeus (Russel Crowe) who is exactly the asshole you’d think he’d be if you know your Greek mythology. The Greek gods were egotistical, generally genocidal maniacs more interested in banging, eating, and causing misery for no other reason than they could, and the MCU seems willing to portray them just as such. Like a drunken moron, Zeus openly wonders why humanity no longer looks up to the Greek pantheon that hasn’t interacted with them in thousands of years and ruled through fear, but rather gives their hopes to the recent appearance of superheroes who actually make the effort to save their lives.
As I noted earlier, my big problem with Thor: Love and Thunder is that Taika indulges some of the worst crutches of the series and runs them into the ground. Early on Thor obtains two goats leading to the film overusing a literal ten year old meme of the goats screaming. It was funny the first time, maybe the second time. But the film uses the screaming goats as a crutch, refusing to allow the movie a moment’s peace without one or both of them interrupting the silence. The same goes for the usual shtick of MCU movies refusing to allow a moment to sit without someone interjecting with a quippy one liner. It pulls away most of the impact some of the more emotional scenes could have had.
Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t as idiotic as Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, either in its writing or presentation. Like many of the other phase four additions however it gradually compounds on the MCU slowly falling apart at the seams by introducing powerful, nearly omnipotent characters and trying to explain why they’ve totally been around the whole time and yet have never interacted with the world prior to these events. The condensed nature of the film also turns Portman’s cancer into something more of a slight inconvenience than an actual weight on her body and mind.