“Thor: Love and Thunder” is not meant to be serious, and that’s okay


IMDb via Marvel

“Thor: Love and Thunder” gives fans a new and refreshing take on classic superhero archetypes.

Disclaimer: Major spoilers for the movie

Gods, aliens and sentient hammer bromances are at the heart of the latest adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Thor: Love and Thunder.” As a part of Marvel’s newest generation of heroes and films, the movie shifted from the typically serious and grim fates of the characters and replaced them with a light-hearted but meaningful adventure into space, marking a change in the tone for Marvel productions. It stands out among previous plotlines centered around the Asgardian thunder god Thor, with self-aware humor and impactful character portrayals that skillfully carry the themes of loss. 

Thor Odinson, played by Chris Hemsworth and Dr. Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, take the cake with their on-screen chemistry, keeping the film grounded in its world-building without taking its characters too seriously, playing off each other’s personalities and creating engaging interactions that range from bittersweet to downright hilarity. Thor and Jane’s rekindled relationship is a testament to the power of honest communication, and a breath of fresh air, especially after their pitiful off-screen breakup in “Thor: Ragnarok.” There’s an intentional awkwardness that feels real and allows the characters to expand on their relationship as close friends before they dated.

It’s frankly refreshing to see a female hero handled as more than just a pretty-looking side character, as Thor steps back to allow Jane her time to shine as The Mighty Thor. Jane emerges as one of the latest female heroes to grace the screen of the newest line-up of MCU characters, showing a shift toward a broader scope of heroes and their diverse backgrounds. Jane is a complex character who was truly given a beautiful sendoff at the end of the movie, allowing for closure with Thor and giving her time to show what Marvel’s new line-up of heroines is capable of.

There were high hopes that Thor’s poorly portrayed depression and weight gain in “Avengers: Endgame” would be developed into a more realistic representation of his return as one of Earth’s mightiest heroes — and Marvel did not disappoint. Hemsworth’s highly anticipated comeback featured Thor’s struggle with his current lifestyle and being an intergalactic hero, with many scenes illustrating his newfound awareness and reluctant acceptance of his limitations. The goofy style of the film masks a more somber tone, and this thought-out portrayal of his character keeps audiences rooting for Thor throughout the movie, strengthening the importance of his return to the cinema as an integral part of the original Avengers.

Additionally, there are more than a few scenes showing LGBTQ+ relationships represented in New Asgard. Fan favorites Korg, played by Taika Waititi, and Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, come out to each other about their sexualities in their own way. It never feels like the details are only mentioned for token diversity. The film also doesn’t try to portray their identities as a joke, allowing the characters to develop without limiting them to stereotypes.

However, the movie is not without its failures, such as sacrificing crucial context in favor of preserving the lighter mood throughout the story. There were noticeable cuts for time, resulting in underdeveloped characters such as the film’s villain and main antagonist, Gorr, played by Christian Bale. Bale was given very little time to show his ability as the God Butcher, only having a few scenes of actual fighting. It turned the few scenes he had into a lackluster showing of his character, making him less interesting to watch. His sole motivation — seeking to wipe out all the gods of the universe for killing his daughter and destroying his home — was established within the first few minutes of the film, leaving little room for character development throughout the film. For such a sharp change to unbridled hatred and disdain, it would have been nice to see Gorr’s internal struggle, especially since his demise at the end of the film came after he realized his conquest was in vain. In his final moments of bringing back his daughter Love, played by India Rose Hemsworth, the audience could have more clearly understood Gorr’s struggles as a grieving father rather than a vindictive grim reaper.

With the fast-paced and avant-garde flow of Thor’s latest storyline, it’s safe to say that Marvel has been diverging farther from comics for its latest series of films. A noticeable shift in Marvel’s style can be found in the action scenes, which are juxtaposed with humor poking fun at the absurdity of superhero movies. This aspect of the films has been needed ever since many of Marvel’s other projects decidedly took a more modern and gritty approach to the MCU worldbuilding. “Thor: Love and Thunder” never once tries to pretend it’s an edgy superhero film, making it more of a thought-out essay to the audience than a climactic and suspenseful monologue. 

Overall, the film would likely have left a deeper impression on audiences had the story been given time to better flesh out its villain’s developmental arc, and allowed for better pacing in-between scenes. However, for the casual fan, it may be a relief to watch a Marvel film free from the intense and convoluted storylines occurring across the rest of the MCU. There’s no shame in liking a movie for its lack of an edgy plot.