It was inconceivable that Thor: Love and Thunder would fall far short of our expectations. While its prequel, Thor: Ragnarok, set the bar quite high in terms of quality, Thor: Love and Thunder failed to reach the same level. In fact, in some ways, this film feels worse than Thor: Dark World, which is called the worst Marvel Cinematice Universe (MCU) film.
Thor: Love and Thunder feels very safe, stakeless, and weightless. The elements of drama are being pushed aside, comedy is being advanced. This film also feels separate from the rest of the MCU lore. His role is more like a freelance adventure with relatively thin impact on the Marvel cinema universe. Even so, it must be admitted that director Taika Waititi has visual directors to spoil the eye.
This film takes place shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Through Korg's (Taika Waititi) narrative, the audience is invited to retrace Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) journey in the MCU so far, from being banished to Earth by Odin (Anthony Hopkins), losing the majority of its citizens in the massacre by Thanos (Josh Brolin), to Loki's death. (Tom Hiddleston) for the umpteenth time. Tragic.
Even though Thor and the Avengers managed to defeat Thanos, he hasn't made peace with himself. Thor is still confused by his situation and trying to find his "place" back in the universe. To respond to this, Thor spends his time exercising and working as a freelancer with Guardians of the Galaxy where he finds a sense of belonging.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, has a different opinion. For a long time he was tired of seeing Thor upset all the time. Although he admits Thor's strength is a valuable asset to his crew, he thinks Thor is more of a burden than a help.
Everything changes when Thor and Quill find the gods in the galaxy have been slaughtered one by one by a figure named The God Butcher (Christian Bale). One of them is Falligar, Thor's own friend. Too much to handle, the two decide to split up with Thor to check conditions on New Asgard, Earth, where Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is king.
Far away on Earth, Thor's ex-lover, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), finds herself with stage 4 cancer. She undergoes various experiments, but to no avail. Desperate, Foster visits New Asgard, hoping for some help there. Unexpectedly, the help came in the form of Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, who chose him as the new host.
When everything comes together in New Asgard, from Gorr to Thor to Jane Foster, the saga of Thor: Láska jako hrom (2022) really begins. Taika's story is very straightforward. There are no twists or things that can make us scream "Hell Yeah!!". The format is really simple where good chases after evil to save the gods across the galaxy. All the elements that appear in between are simply to carry Thor, Jane, and Gorr from one fight to the next.
Taika sprinkles rom com elements on top of the straightforward story. For the first time, since Age of Ultron, MCU fans can see what ended Thor and Jane's relationship. The difference in race is not the main issue, but the fear of the two that they will not live up to each other's expectations. Thor feels like a burden to Jane who excels in the world of science while Jane feels herself getting in the way of Thor's duties as a superhero.
The way Taika explores Thor and Jane's relationship is really cute. With his comedic style, he opened up what was wrong in their relationship. Thor and Jane are a reflection of modern relationhsip problems ranging from high expectations, lack of intimacy, lack of appreciation, to pressure to achieve the couple goals created by society. In some way, apart from its superheroic flair, this film can feel relatable for those who are in a romantic relationship.
Comedy doesn't just come from Jane and Thor's relationship. As said at the beginning of the article, Thor: Love and Thunder doubles the comedy portion. Comedy comes in many forms, in many ways.
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Taika, it must be admitted, is really good at putting comical moments in unexpected places. What in the hands of other directors is not funny, in his hands becomes witty and silly. The most fitting example is the interaction between Thor with Mjolnir and Stormbreaker. Taika "humanizes" the two weapons like living creatures. Even so, the comedy portion he presented was too overwhelming according to our taste.
When you see the comedy portion is so large, there are concerns that it will cover the development for the character of Gorr The God Butcher. Sure enough, Gorr is like an out of place element for this film. The lore, which is so heavy and dark in its original source, is unexplored, causing character development to stop at the surface-level, undermining Thor and Jane's relationship.
If Taika took the time to explore the story of The God Butcher, Thor: Love & Thunder could explore Atheism a bit. Gorr felt his hatred of the gods (or God) was justified. According to him, the gods are only busy looking for followers without hearing what the congregation is asking and praising. His search for God led him to rogue gods who were selfish and didn't really care about his congregation.
Although Gorr's placement is out of place for this film, Christian Bale deserves a thumbs up for his acting. He brought the character of Gorr with treatment a la Patrick Bateman (from the film American Psycho) who made his name. In his control, Gorr is not only calm and terrifying, but also able to act gleefully like the Joker who finds pleasure in toying with the gods.
Chris Hemsworth, on the other hand, seems increasingly comfortable with his role as Thor. He found his passion again since Thor: Ragnarok took his character to a more comical approach a la Jack Burton from the film Big Trouble in Little China. Thor in this film is a little more complex than what we saw in Thor: Ragnarok, but Chris brings it easy.
What about Natalie Portman? Like Chris, Natalie got the opportunity to explore her comedy skills. Comedy films are not Natalie's subscription, who has been playing more dramas so far. Surprisingly, she was able to keep up with Chris by appearing light, entertaining, and enthusiastic about her new role as The New Mighty Jane Foster. It's fun to see Natalie play a character that isn't usually given to her.
Finally, Thor: Love & Thunder failed to deliver our expectations. We wanted an upgrade from Thor: Ragnarok, but what we got was quite the opposite. Thor: Love and Thunder is incredibly light, straight, and weightless. The comedy portion that is too excessive makes its potential to explore important issues or MCU world building unexplored. The visualization may be good (much better than Ragnarok), but it's useless with mediocre storytelling. This is probably the first time we can confidently say a Marvel movie really feels like a children's and family movie.