Ever since Avengers: Endgame, Marvel has struggled to gain momentum. Wandavision had a relatively good start to Phase 4, despite its crooked morals, followed by lackluster efforts in Falcon, Loki, and Moon Knight. The last of these are elements that borrow heavily from Legion.
Multiverse of Madness then used it to get people into Doctor Stranger to get Wandavision Part 2 just for us. critics, but managed to garner a shocking 750,000 viewers in its first 5 days, less than half of Hawkeye’s lowest-watched MCU series on the platform. Looks like the Marvel train is starting to derail now.
Love and Thunder then feels like another big bump in the road, a film that toys with some interesting ideas but undermines itself with silly jokes, poor characterization and some truly confusing visuals. If you thought the graphics in the Star Wars prequels looked bad, you’re in for a rude awakening with this one.
Characters regularly walk towards the camera, shot from the front to hide the fact that this is being filmed on a soundstage. The lighting for these foreground characters is oddly uneven, with some night scenes being particularly eerie in this regard.
That’s to say nothing of the depth of field, which almost looks like these characters were copied and pasted into the film in the background. It’s like watching a cartoon where the watercolor background contrasts with the brighter foreground elements.
I’m trying not to be too dismissive here because I’m sure some people won’t care. But given the film’s $250 million budget, much of it looks cheap, with the most difficult animations (including the hilariously bad scene where Valkyrie is thrown from his ship) unforgivable.
The story itself focuses on Thor “finding himself” again. He is desperate to find his purpose again. While at the same time feeling lost and unsure of where his future lies…again.
As the tale begins, we get a great deal of exposition as Korg tells the story of Fat Thor’s re-formation and fighting alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy. Don’t get too comfortable though, the Guardians are at it for about 10-15 minutes before Thor turns his attention to a new world-ending threat – Gorr the God Butcher.
Thanks to a neat little prologue and some pretty good character development, Gorr is one of the best elements of this movie – and certainly a competent antagonist. He’s nowhere near the best the MCU has put out, but he’s not a complete joke like the Mandarin was in Iron Man III.
The problem is that Gorr’s very relatable and serious interests are constantly undermined by the tone of this film, which oscillates between comedy and false comedy.
In fact, the main plot revolves around Thor’s union with Jane Foster aka. Mighty Thor (more on that in a minute), King Valkyrie, and Korg to recruit some Gods and fight Gorr the Butcher, who is threatening to kill them all with motives rooted in simple revenge against the Gods. The fate of the universe hangs in the balance, complete with forced CGI monsters and a big battle at the end.
It’s all very cliche MCU stuff at this point, and while it’s not a complete bait and switch with Thor and Mighty Thor, this movie has some pretty head-scratching decisions with these characters. And once again questionable Marvel morals emerge.
Early on, we learn that Jane Foster is a genius scientist who is “saving the world” on Earth with her research. However, she is suffering from cancer and undergoing chemo.
After reading about Mjolnir and how it can give him “stamina” and “health”, he sets off, believing that the shattered remains of Mjolnir are calling him.
Thus, in his entirely selfish ambition to prolong his own life and better himself, he somehow finds himself worthy of wielding Thor’s hammer. And that’s all the explanation we get.
To be fair, there is a nice moment between Jane and Thor that goes a little deeper in the film, but those expecting a more detailed explanation and exactly why Mjolnir chose her will be disappointed.
Poor character development is only further hampered by jokes that are a mixed bag at best. There are a few laughs in the game, but the whole thing feels so stupid and silly that it defies belief. It also doesn’t help that the comedic timing regularly undermines the stakes of the entire film. Even late on, during the final showdown with Gorr, banter is regularly traded, which completely removes the threat.
The jokes themselves are a mixture of tired tropes for absurdist humor that doesn’t work (haha, you need a breath mint!). Want to see Thor ride like a broomstick on Stormbreaker? How about having a character make a big joke before they die? These moments completely destroy any semblance of seriousness this film could have used, which is a shame because the pieces are there for an emotionally compelling plot.
The other issue comes from the aforementioned morality of his characters. It’s something that Marvel has struggled with, and Thor: Love and Thunder only further expresses it. Remember Wanda’s bloodthirsty mission to get revenge on those who wronged her family? I’d like to kill everyone who gets in his way so they can be forgiven for it, because he’s always “doing the right thing?”
In Love and Lightning, God Butcher Gorr’s mission is also to take revenge on those who wronged his family. He wants to pay the Gods, but he is a crusader nonetheless. Morality is definitely difficult for the MCU writers!
Some of this might be easy to overlook if Thor was a decent character, but once again his persona is completely killed here. Remember that scene in American Pie where Jim walks up to Nadia, laughs awkwardly, and walks away? Yes, it’s mostly Thor in this movie.
He is often oblivious; the joke of his own film (both figuratively and literally), as well as a tonally confused protagonist. In fact, he spends more time emotionally engaged with his hammers than Jane Foster.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a comedic crush. Hell, some of the most serious films have managed to make up for it with a good-natured joke at the right moment. Unfortunately, Thor: Love and Thunder picks exactly the wrong times to make a joke.
And then he layers that inappropriate joke with another one. All of this humor only serves to undermine any threat that Gorr poses, and ultimately makes fun of Thor Odinson, who has less of an arc than Jane Foster, the only person besides Gorr who resembles a good character. arc.
Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t the worst movie Marvel has released, but it’s certainly one of the weakest; a tepid, green-screen-heavy atrocity that tries and fails to hammer home the same joke over and over again. In the end, the only joke here is Love and Lightning.