An ambitious experiment in an overcrowded laboratory
July 8th, 2022
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a complicated position after reverting back to its phase one tactics. Fans juggle multiple Disney Plus shows and movies with little progression in the overarching direction. The Thor movies rank among the least popular in the franchise, until Taika Waititi rebooted the character in Ragnarok with more emphasis on comedy. However, it further complicated the Asgardian’s development between the Shakespearian gusto and the quirky relatability.
This lack of balance carries over to Thor: Love and Thunder as he travels with the Guardians of the Galaxy to find a new life purpose. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) eventually crosses paths with his ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who now lifts Mjölnir without breaking a sweat. Together, they try to repair their relationship while trying to stop Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) from fulfilling his pantheon genocide.
As one can tell, this is a romantic comedy; not a bad change of pace in a phase that’s experimented with obscure characters and scenarios. Hemsworth and Portman still have great chemistry, even with the time gap between this and The Dark World. Waititi’s ability to push beyond Jane’s limits in the comic benefits both the actress and the surrounding cast. Many jokes are carried by their charisma and ability to improvise. The special effect, action sequences, and unique cinematography also elevate this to a higher standard than most mid-level Marvel entries. Finally, the ending is bittersweet and is easily the best part in this tone-deaf journey.
Too bad the combination of drama and comedy redefine tonal whiplash, even if it breaks the never-ending meme humor. One scene deals with the tragic backstory of Gorr, who’s sadly reduced to the villains in phase one despite Christian Bale’s dedication. The next sees Thor talking to storm breaker like a disgruntled partner with a pint of beer. Thor might not have been relatable in his first two movies compared to now, but the attempt to keep continuity proved more beneficial than this pachinko machine of random humor, until the third act. The Ant-Man movies at least kept in character, even when the comedy took the steering wheel. Unless screaming goats are your cup of tea, it gets old really fast. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie also takes a backseat after stealing the show with her invincible liver and amazing art of not giving a d*** about life’s letdowns. The only other record this holds is being first the MCU movie to have uncensored content.
Thor: Love and Thunder is the most experimental of the Thor films, sometimes to a fault. The dramatic scenes develop the characters compared to Ragnarok’s full-blown comedy, the two leads still have great chemistry, the style is unique among its own competition, and Christian Bale plays the villain with dedication and sincerity. Unfortunately, a lot of this gets lost in the whiplashing tone, the unintentional clumsy dialogue, a villain that demands more attention, and a pair of goats that bleed ear drums. The problem is that after experimenting with so many characters, the comic book movie fatigue is finally becoming a reality. Without this phase’s equivalent of Captain America: Civil War, there’s no sense of direction as this universe demands more attention only to reward viewers with more cliffhangers. Aside from Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, phase four is proving to be the weakest era in this directionless void. Those who loved Ragnarok will definitely have a good time, but to those who want to see the next evolution in this drawn-out post-Endgame narrative, this isn’t the next adventure you’re looking for.