This review will be spoiler-free for Thor: Love and Thunder and will only contain explicit information available in official trailers and TV spots for the film. However, this review does contain spoilers for previous Thor and MCU films.
Overfilled with humorless jokes, grating characters, and a pointless story, the absolutely terrible Thor: Love and Thunder is one of the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. It marks a new low in the worst era of the franchise, a phase that has had genuine highlights but mainly consists of subpar storytelling with some prominent political pandering.
Thor: An Awkward Mess
In previous films, Chris Hemsworth played a great Thor. The Aussie’s portrayal of the God of Thunder is controversial, with many complaining that it makes Thor into a joke and devalues his heroism. However, his arc in Endgame was perfect: Partly because of his mistake, half of the universe dies and he’s unable to change that, so he plunges into depression and tries to drown his guilt in alcohol. But when Thor calls Mjolnir and finds out he’s still worthy (in the MCU, only those that the hammer considers “worthy” can wield it), he realizes that he hasn’t lost what makes him a hero. This perfectly sets up the future. After Ragnarok and Endgame, Thor is confident and ready to go be a hero again.
Instead of giving us a fun, back-to-basics Thor story, Love and Thunder characterizes Thor as really awkward. With the exception of the main villain, the God of Thunder interacts gracelessly with every single character he speaks with. This is a step backward, especially from where his previous arcs ended him; but a competent, confident Thor couldn’t work since Marvel needs to prop up their new “hero.”
Jane Foster: Mightier Than Thor
Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest from the first two films, who was notably absent from Ragnarok. However, she returns in this film as … Thor! In fact, she’s not just Thor. No, she’s the Mighty Thor. Which she calls herself in the film. Twice.
Now, there is precedent for Foster’s role as Thor. Originally, the God of Thunder in Marvel comics was a transformation—humans, most notably Donald Blake, transformed into Thor at times. Issue no. 10 of What If?, published some 44 years ago in 1978, uniquely told the story of what would happen if Jane Foster was given the power of Thor. However, this was not the end of Jane Foster as the God of Thunder.
Ultimately, Thor reverted into solely being a god. However, during Jason Aaron’s run, the God of Thunder becomes unworthy of Mjolnir and, consequently, Foster becomes Thor. Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different” era especially highlighted Foster’s transformation, offering most of the “inspiration” for Love and Thunder.
Despite having no training, Foster is immediately amazing as Thor. She even has access to a special ability that Thor doesn’t. She is consistently more competent than Thor, and he cannot win battles without her. Notably, the film never explains why she is worthy or how she wields the formerly broken Mjolnir. Ultimately, she’s another woke derivative created to shame the original character, and was by far the least welcome addition to the film.
Comedy: In Your Face and Not Funny
Love and Thunder is meant to be a comedy. Basically every other line is a joke or a sarcastic reply. And while I, unlike some, mostly enjoy the MCU’s humor, Love and Thunder’s comedy is just stupid and plainly awful. The jokes are absolutely thoughtless. I don’t recall laughing a single time throughout the whole film. It’s almost as if every single character in the film was annoying comic relief.
The amount of jokes in this film would make the Joker blush. And while an overload of bad jokes is already a huge problem, it causes an even bigger one.
The film treats nothing with seriousness. Nothing. Thor’s character arcs over the last few films? A joke. The death of his parents and brother? A joke. The death of half the universe? A joke. Even the scenes that attempt a more serious tone are interrupted by jokes. And they’re not even funny or clever. The humor is awful and sinks an already lackluster film.
Gorr: A Mishandled Villain
Gorr the God Butcher, also from Aaron’s Thor run, is the film’s villain. And while I generally dislike Aaron’s work, he could have done something interesting with Gorr. A fantastic concept, Gorr could have been very menacing as a stone-cold killer hell-bent on slaying all the gods. Compared to the overabundance of comedic characters, most of whom are gods, a stoic, dangerous Gorr would have been a breath of fresh air and a great complement to highlight the difference between his nature and the gods’. Additionally, Christian Bale could have given an incredible performance as Gorr if the film had allowed it. Naturally, Love and Thunder undermines all of this.
The stoicism, for one, is absent beyond the set up. While he jokes far less, Gorr still has unnecessary comedic moments that undermine his villainous mission. Second, Gorr is simply not menacing. The film tells you—rather than showing you—that he is dangerous. And the importance of the gods’ existence is never made clear. If anything, I was rooting for Gorr because all these characters were insufferable. He was a huge letdown, as he was the only thing that could have elevated the film at all.
There’s Still More!
The action in the film is okay. It is not terrible, and there are actually a couple of cool moments, but it is still unremarkable. A lot of the sequences feel like they could have been interesting, but they just miss the bar.
The film has an insane amount of needle drops. Four times throughout the film, a Guns N’ Roses song starts playing. Notably, only the viewer hears this, not the characters. Even as a Guns N’ Roses fan, I find this annoying and unnecessary.
Without a hint of irony, the film shows Jane doing the “pen-through-paper” explanation of wormholes. This completely unnecessary scene used one of the most stereotypical “movie science” explanations for no reason. I understand the Marvel films are not meant to be scientifically accurate, but this was insulting.
I praise the film in one aspect: There was genuinely a plot point I did not expect to happen. While I don’t think it’s impossible that this point will be undermined in the future, I was pleasantly surprised.
The film is terrible. And the reason why this is the case is not simply “Jane Foster is bad.” Yes, Jane’s role and the undermining of Thor are terrible. But the comedy is disgraceful and Gorr is a massively disappointing villain. The film is an utter disaster, and I implore you to not waste your money on it.