Sweet Child O’ Mine

Thor: Love and Thunder is hard to take seriously. As the twenty-ninth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Love and Thunder is a journey of self discovery for the God of Thunder. Up to this point, Marvel Studios only made trilogies for standalone superheroes. Since Iron Man and Captain America never got a proper 4th installment, their storylines were continued in other projects until they retired in Avengers: Endgame. Thor didn’t retire, since Thor: Ragnarok was such a surprise success that revitalized Chris Hemsworth’s love for the God of Thunder. Academy Award winning director Taika Waititi was a big reason for breathing new life into the character. Marvel Studios made an exception to the three movie rule by letting Waititi direct Thor 4.

Despite directing Jojo Rabbit in the meantime, producer Kevin Feige put way too much faith in Waititi to do whatever he wanted. Even the title Love and Thunder sounded like a joke the moment I heard it. Ragnarok was very comedic, but I always felt like something held Waititi back from being too silly. Like Wonder Woman 1984, Love and Thunder is what happens when you give a proven director too much creative freedom. It’s kind of a mess that ended up beating The Dark World as the second worst reviewed MCU film. Love and Thunder is barely fresh with a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes and a $700 million box office gross. I was neither satisfied, nor disappointed with the final product. Love and Thunder is just another Thor adventure that barely serves a purpose…

61. Thor Love and Thunder

Thor and company in Omnipotence City

Thor: Love and Thunder is so inconsequential that it received a meager 1 hour & 59 minute runtime. With the exception of the 2 hour & 10 minute Ragnarok, Thor movies have always been surprisingly short. After the equally short Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like shorter MCU movies were becoming the norm. The problem is how much they ended up cutting as a result. Love and Thunder was rewritten multiple times with several characters and storylines being cut out. Phase Four feels especially directionless at this point. Like America Chavez in Multiverse of Madness, I was unenthusiastic when I found out more modern characters from the last decade would be adapted. I had no more interest in Ms. Marvel on Disney+ than I did for Mighty Thor or Gorr the God Butcher. In his trilogy, Thor faced classic villains like his adopted Frost Giant brother Loki, Dark Elf Malekith the Accursed, and Goddess of Death sister Hela. Gorr the God Butcher was created for the 2013 Thor: God of Thunder #2. Hela’s ability to conjure weapons was actually taken from Gorr. I recognized the villain, but I knew nothing about his backstory or title.

Love and Thunder opens with a mostly faithful version of Gorr’s origin. Gorr and his daughter struggle to survive on a barren desert planet. Though they suffer, Gorr puts all of his trust in the god Rapu to grant them an eternal reward. When his daughter dies, Gorr finds a tropical oasis where he comes face to face with Rapu. The sight of a 7 ft. tall god with golden blood is almost as ridiculous as Gods of Egypt. Waititi collaborator Jonathan Brugh plays the ridiculously spiteful Rapu who tells Gorr his life is meaningless. Gorr becomes worthy of the Necrosword and slays the false god with it. In the comics, Kull created the Necrosword and symbiotes. The sword has a similar power to corrupt the one who wields it. Academy Award winner Christian Bale plays Gorr since you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Bale is committed, but the movie’s direction held him back. Only in the opening does Gorr feel like a sympathetic character. Any attempt to make Gorr funny falls flat with Bale hamming it up.

In terms of look, Gorr is supposed to have a black hood with pale white skin, no nose, and alien tentacles for ears. Though similar to Lord Voldemort, they could’ve made the design work on screen. Instead Bale has generic white makeup, white robes, and markings that he scratched out in an R rated deleted scene. Despite gaining the title God Butcher, all of Gorr’s butchering is done entirely off-screen. The Marvel Studios logo plays with a more melodic tune. Love and Thunder officially begins with Korg recapping the life of space viking Thor Odinson set to “Only Time” by Enya. The Thor movies have always had an identity crisis. Thor was a very Shakespearean way to introduce the superhero, The Dark World took itself too seriously, and Ragnarok was a lighthearted space romp. Love and Thunder is almost exactly like Ragnarok in terms of humor, soundtrack, and color palette, but they do find a way to tie every movie together. We see Thor as a baby carrying a wooden hammer with his mother Frigga on the battlefield. A running montage shows Thor as a child, a teenager sporting a classic Stan Lee & Jack Kirby costume, and an adult wearing the costume from the first movie.

Korg talks about all of Thor’s deceased loved ones like Frigga, Odin, Heimdall and Loki three times. The Warriors Three are disrespected even more than they were before. Losing his hammer, the destruction of Asgard, and failing to defeat Thanos were bigger losses that would’ve led any other character down a dark path. After 11 years of playing Thor, Chris Hemsworth managed to keep evolving the God of Thunder. Fat Thor was controversial, but he thankfully doesn’t stay that way forever. Hemsworth is in the best shape of his life with an absolutely jacked god bod. I’m personally happy that Thor managed to keep the long blonde hair that he’s known for. Love and Thunder is also a family affair since the entire Hemsworth family is involved. Thor once loved an alien pirate and a Wolf Woman played by his own wife Elsa Pataky. His twin sons Sasha and Tristan play Thor as a child and older daughter India plays Gorr’s deceased daughter. Since Waititi initially drew comedic inspiration from Guardians of the Galaxy, it only made sense for Thor to join the team at the end of Endgame.

When Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was delayed thanks to James Gunn, I knew Star-Lord, Drax, Nebula, Mantis, Kraglin, Groot, and Rocket had to appear in Love and Thunder. I didn’t think it was possible, but the Guardians of the Galaxy leave zero impression in the movie. Chris Pratt, Dave Batista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel are practically glorified cameos given a “special appearance” credit. Pratt looks a little disheveled after making several blockbusters in a row. Thor and Peter Quill don’t have the rivialy or struggle for leadership that they had before. Drax and Mantis don’t do anything worth remembering. Nebula only stands out with angry outbursts. Kraglin’s presence on the team continues to annoy me with a very unfunny joke about him marrying an alien local. Rocket notably yells at a still teenage Groot on a battlefield. Though not as dramatic as the teaser trailer, Thor’s mid-life crisis leads to him only fighting when he’s needed. So Thor plucks Stormbreaker from the ground and rides it like a witches broom. This is the first Thor film to feature Stormbreaker after it was forged in Infinity War.

Thor’s Guardians ensemble pays homage to the classic yellow boots and blue pants that he originally had in the comics. Though his red vest is more reminiscent of Thunderstrike. His white alien tank top was likely lent to him by Quill. The battle of planet Indigarr is a lot like the first fight in Ragnarok. Thor goes full God of Thunder with a one sided battle set to a classic rock song. Although “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC would’ve made more sense then “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses. It’s a fun fight scene with plenty of lightning and feats of strength like Thor doing a split mid-air. Yet it somehow feels hollow when the threat is a band of alien birds. Thor does something especially reckless when he destroys the sacred temple of King Yakan played by Stephen Curry. Though it doesn’t stop him from giving them a gift that nobody asked for. In Norse mythology, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr are goats that pull Thor’s chariot. Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder were adapted for Marvel comics, but Love and Thunder turns the fearsome creatures into constant screaming goat memes. When I say constant, I mean the joke lasts for the entire movie! It’s funny the first time, but they just keep going.

The Guardians quickly split up with Thor and Korg when they receive distress signals in the wake of Gorr’s god butchering. Before they leave, Thor drags out a hilarious handshake and Quill mentions Gamora while giving him important advice about love. Thor’s love life has taken a backseat ever since Jane Foster dumped him off-screen. Natalie Portman left the franchise after The Dark World and I lost hope that she’d ever return. Her Endgame cameo was a big surprise that signaled her triumphant return. The Thor quadrilogy is a lot like the Toy Story quadrilogy. Jane was absent in Ragnarok before returning as a badass in Love and Thunder. Much like Bo Peep between Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4. Waititi intended to make a romantic comedy, but Jane’s return was also an opportunity to adapt the Mighty Thor storyline that began with Thor #1 in 2014. Like some fans, I wasn’t on board with a female Thor replacing Thor Odinson in the comics. Unlike the movie, Jane’s identity was kept a secret for most of her run. When Thor became unworthy to lift Mjolnir, a mysterious woman came along to claim the title. Nurse turned Dr. Jane Foster was revealed to be battling cancer and the hammer gave her strength.

Since Disney was too afraid to tackle Tony Stark’s alcoholism, I wasn’t sure they’d tackle something as serious as cancer. Scientist Dr. Jane Foster is in fact battling 4th stage cancer in the MCU. They take the subject seriously, but it’s still jarring to have a colorful space battle followed by an MRI machine. Jane explains her work to someone who happens to be reading her book and it feels like she never left. Especially when Darcy Lewis decides to visit her. Darcy is another character I never expected to see again, but Kat Dennings made a welcomed return to the MCU in WandaVision. Where she went from quirky intern to accomplished young scientist. Despite being the comic relief of 2 Thor films, there’s nothing funny about Darcy talking sense into her terminally ill best friend. Jane seeks scientific means to cure herself and it’s enough to warrant a phoned in cameo from Stellan Skarsgård. Erik Selvig was once very important in the early MCU, but he hasn’t made a physical appearance since Age of Ultron.

Love and Thunder features the return of multiple MIA Thor characters. Including Lady Sif who most recently made a surprise appearance in Loki. Tom Hiddleston doesn’t appear since Loki is dead in this sacred timeline. Sif was built up as a love interest for Thor and possible competition for Jane. She made 2 seperate unofficial appearances in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before being left out of Ragnarok. Jaimie Alexander was too busy making Blindspot at the time. Sif sends Thor a distress message on a snowy planet where a comic accurate Falligar the Behemoth was slain. Thor’s first outfit change is probably his best in the movie. He rocks a mostly black viking inspired outfit with a red cape and fur collar. Sif finally wears a comic accurate red outfit with a winged tiara, but her 9 year absence is given zero explanation. Despite Alexander receiving top billing, all Sif does is lose an arm off-screen and get taken out of commision for the entire movie. It’s kind of insulting, but the movie already has an abundance of strong female characters. New Asgard is the new home for Asgardians where Valkyrie is King. The fact that she isn’t Queen is just one minor annoyance, but I’ll get to that later.

Since most of Thor’s cast has been killed off at this point, Valkyrie, Korg, and an apparently female Meik return after becoming fan favorites in Ragnarok. Jeff Goldblum and Peter Dinklage nearly returned as the Grandmaster and Eitri, but what logical purpose could they have served apart from fan service? Lena Headey was also cut, but we’re still not sure who she might’ve played. Like Waititi himself, Korg became too much of a good thing. I wouldn’t call him annoying, but you do get sick of him after a while. In addition to being narrator, Korg serves no role in the movie apart from tagging along. His dude bro relationship with Thor could’ve been filled by literally anyone else. Still no Balder the Brave after nearly appearing in Multiverse of Madness. I’ll even accept Beta Ray Bill at this point. Valkyrie is tired of the bureaucracy that comes with being a ruler. It doesn’t really go anywhere since Tessa Thompson has a weird lazy energy that makes it unclear what Val really wants. She’s not shown to be a very good ruler and being a warrior doesn’t work out for her either. I think her drinking is supposed to be in response to losing her fellow Valkyrie, but even that isn’t fully addressed.

Thompson was way too desperate to make Valkyrie the first LGBT MCU character. She kept baiting fans with the promise of a “Queen,” but the movie has no time for that. All Valkyrie does is kiss a fair maiden’s hand and have a pointless conversation with Korg about a past girlfriend. It’s not as forced as Korg claiming to have two dads that conceived him despite making it clear he had a mom in Ragnarok. It leads to Korg meeting another male Kronan with a mustache in the end. New Asgard has become a tourist destination set to “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses. Asgardians give tours, flying boat rides, and Valkyrie does Old Spice commercials. They also open an Infinity Conez ice cream parlor that feels like the MCU equivalent of opening a Hitler themed restaurant. Another reused joke is having a second Asgardian theater performance depicting the events of Ragnarok. It was funny the first time, but now Waititi is just making fun of his own movie. Luke Hemsworth, Matt Damon, and Sam Neill return as the Thor, Loki, and Odin actors respectively. They perform Odin’s death followed by the arrival of Hela. I’ll admit I didn’t expect Melissa McCarthy, but this is a comedy after all. Even her husband Ben Falcone is there as a stage manager.

Although they aren’t canon, even Daley Pearson shows up as Thor’s flatmate Daryl from the Team Thor shorts. He’s a tour guide who shows people the remains of Mjolnir in a special exhibit. When science fails her, Jane seeks viking space magic for a cure. Thor returns home for the first time since joining the Guardians. Gorr uses shadow monsters to attack the people of New Asgad. Valkyrie brings her renamed pegasus Warsong to the fight wearing her pajamas. It’s a brief reunion, but Thor becomes distracted when he sees his hammer in action. Thor enthusiastically reaches for Mjolnir, but it ends up in the hands of Mighty Thor. Jane has the comic accurate red cape, blonde hair, and helmet that covers her face, but her breastplate isn’t exactly the same. Despite being 5′ 3″, Portman managed to put on an impressive amount of muscle for the part. Jane made jokes before, but now she really tries to be funnier. Most of it amounts to Mighty Thor trying to find a catchphrase. Thor is so confused that he changes his look to a ridiculously primary red, blue, and gold outfit based on his battle armor from the comics. I’m just glad he takes off his goofy helmet mask after discovering Jane is the new Thor.

Korg recounts the events between Thor choosing to live on Earth with Jane and their inevitable breakup that we never got to see. Now it’s definitely a rom-com complete with a cheesy romantic montage set to “Our Last Summer” by ABBA. I’m not sure rollerblading with Mjolnir or Thor dressing up like a hot dog are what they had in mind after the end of The Dark World. Thor and Jane learn from each other, but things get complicated when Thor becomes busy as an Avenger and Jane becomes busy as a scientist. Jane broke up by letter, but they finally reunite 8 years later on the battlefield. Jane’s Mighty Thor origin is adjusted for the continuity of the MCU. Since Thor never became unworthy, a protective enchantment caused Mjolnir to reforge in order to keep Jane safe. Giving the hammer a cool new ability to break apart and come back together again. Thor doesn’t have time to process it when Gorr attacks the God of Thunder. There’s not much of a rivalry between them, but their battles are intense. Gorr only succeeds in kidnapping the children of New Asgard. Thor vows to return the children, but he runs into a few complications.

Though shocked by Jane’s transformation, he’s more jealous of Mjolnir being with someone else. The movie adds a bizarre, but funny love triangle between Thor, Mjolnir, and Stormbreaker. Despite never showing sentiance in the past, Stormbreaker is clearly jealous of Thor’s love for his old weapon. Which effects Stormbreaker’s ability to open the Bifröst. It’s a convoluted way to have Thor and company ride a boat pulled by Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder to their next destination. More convenient is having Heimdall’s kidnapped son magically appear as a floating head to give them directions. The CGI isn’t too bad when it comes to creatures and landscapes, but effects like this are just embarrassing. Astrid Heimdallson has never been mentioned before, but naming himself Axl after the Guns N’ Roses frontrunner makes you take their situation a lot less seriously. I feel like the child element was just an excuse to have Bale, Portman, and Waititi’s children be part of the movie too. Thor visits the children using Axl’s all-seeing eyes and discovers they’re being taken to the Shadow Realm.

Just like the Revengers, Thor puts together a team consisting of Valkyrie, Korg, and Jane. Jane isn’t doing so well, but she has a fleeting female bonding moment with Val. Together they embark on a quest to Omnipotence City. Despite making four Thor movies, Alfheim (home of the Light Elves) remains the only unseen location in the Nine Realms. Even Infinity War depicted Nidavellir when it was necessary. Accepting Norse gods in the MCU was tricky enough, but Love and Thunder introduces gods from almost every mythology. It’s in the comics, but I never expected Marvel Studios to go this far. Omnipotence City is home to the most powerful gods in the universe. Including Olympian god Dionysus, Panther goddess Bast, Japanese god Jademurai, Roman goddess Minerva, Kronan god Ninny of the Nonny, a couple of Celestials, and Zeus himself. Egyptian god Ra is mentioned, but no Moon Knight characters appear for some reason. As a Christian, I am a little turned off by the idea of every religion’s god being real in the MCU. At least most of them are depicted as petty or buffoonish. I knew it was all a joke when a cartoon Bao god showed up.

Sadly, Zeus is the biggest joke that Academy Award winner Russell Crowe can’t even save. His decision to use an authentic Greek accent is very hard to take seriously. Thor looks up to Zeus since they’re both thunder & lightning gods, but he’s nothing like his father Odin. Zeus is technically in character when he talks about human sacrifice and mentions an orgy. Thor is chained up and stripped of his clothing since these shirtless scenes are becoming more gratuitous. Despite the PG-13 rating, Chris Hemsworth shows his butt for the first time since Rush. Thor’s back tattoos reveal a tribute to Loki and a list of other deceased loved ones. Including his father, mother, Heimdall, Tony Stark, and Natasha Romanoff. Zeus dismisses Thor’s plea to fight Gorr and it doesn’t lead to mass carnage in Omnipotence City. Instead Zeus shows off his Thunderbolt skills and forces him to stay. It leads to a battle with Thor, Mighty Thor, Valkyrie, and Korg fighting gold blooded Olympian guards. Zeus throwing his Thunderbolt at Korg would’ve been great if they didn’t once again treat everything like a joke. Korg’s face survives long enough to keep pestering the audience.

Thor surprisingly kills Zeus with his own Thunderbolt despite realizing his friend is alive. The treatment of Zeus is even more baffling when you see a deleted scene of the Olympian god giving Thor fatherly advice and assistance with Thunderbolt. Instead Valkyrie steals the weapon and they escape Omnipotence City. Thor only discovers Jane has cancer after clumsily professing his love for her. They decide to live in the moment and share a passionate kiss. All color fades when they enter the Shadow Realm. Giving the movie a visually unique excuse for a black & white sequence. It’s only at Omnipotence City that Thor discovers Gorr’s plan to wish for the mass extinction of gods using Eternity. I can honestly say I never expected to see the cosmic entity on the big screen, but Eternity’s solar system silhouette is very comic accurate. Mighty Thor realizes it’s a trap when Stormbreaker is revealed to by the key by opening the Rainbow Bridge. Gorr taunts his enemies and threatens Thor’s loved ones until he summons his axe. The fight in the Shadow Realm is an epic battle of the gods where color only returns when weapons are used.

Valkyrie is injured and taken out of commision just like Sif. Gorr manages to snatch Stormbreaker and Jane becomes too weak from using Mjolnir. Thor tries to convince Jane to stay behind and accept treatment, but she joins him anyway in a crazy climax. Thor first arrives through the use of Thunderbolt and saves the children. He gives the kids a pep talk and now possesses the ability to lend the power of Thor to his child army. The sight of children using stuffed animals and other weapons infused with lightning set to “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses may be the silliest part of an already silly movie. Mighty Thor’s arrival on Warsong is grand, but her dismissal of the name Lady Thor is too on the nose. The two Thors defeat Gorr using teamwork to break his Necrosword. SPOILER ALERT! Everyone thought Jane would take the spotlight from the original Thor, but her death is a comic accurate progression of her character.

A dying Gorr manages to reach Eternity, but he decides to choose Love when he sees Thor and Jane together. Though I once called their relationship a schoolyard crush, I finally began to understand their love for each other. Thor credits his worthiness to Jane and that opens his heart to love again. Turns out Gorr’s daughter is literally named Love. While the rest of New Asgard train the next generation, Thor becomes a dad by raising his enemies daughter. I’m sure it’s an excuse to have Chris Hemsworth work directly with his real life daughter. She’s not the best actress and her heat vision is just weird, but I’m glad Thor finally hit the reset button. Only at the end does Thor decide to wield Mjolnir and give Stormbreaker to Love. The title only makes sense when you realize Love and Thunder is referring to the two of them. It’s followed by a colorful rock inspired credits sequence set to the movie’s primary theme “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by (you guessed it) Guns N’ Roses.

The mid-credits scene is something I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. Zeus survives and we can finally take him seriously when he voices his disdain for superheroes and desire to be feared once again. I knew that had to mean Hercules making his MCU debut. I’m not familiar with Brett Goldstein’s work in Ted Lasso, but it’s awesome to see him in a comic accurate orange and green gladiator outfit. The rivalry between Thor and Hercules holds a lot of weight in Marvel comics, but I’m not sure when it will ever be addressed. The after-credits scene is simply Jane being accepted into Valhalla. The only place Idris Elba can make a last minute appearance as Heimdall. Though they show the text “Thor will return” at the end, I sincerely hope Waititi isn’t involved. He did well with Ragnarok, but Love and Thunder goes too far with comedy and it’s treatment of beloved characters. Thor: Love and Thunder is an entertaining mess.

62. Thor Love and Thunder

Gorr the God Butcher

Preceded by: Thor: Ragnarok

4 thoughts on “Sweet Child O’ Mine

  1. I believe Waititi and the studio just didn’t get that Ragnarok, while fantastic as a one-off, wasn’t something we were asking them to attempt to repeat. It was time to get back to business, not carry on the jokes. Natalie Portman is back, but just to get cancer. Cancer isn’t really a laughing matter, and while this was comic book canon, it felt to me like a jarring contrast to the slapstick humor fails.

    Liked by 1 person

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