Thor has returned for his first solo adventure in quite a while. Thor Ragnarok still ranks as one of the top Marvel films while the first two have their mixed moments. Perhaps controversially I always had Thor 2 ahead of the first one even if the power levels in that film would go on to make everything else a little tricky. I’ll go into the full Thor rankings later on. Love and Thunder is a solid installment in the series even if it doesn’t come close to matching Ragnarok.
The movie starts with introducing us to the god butcher known as Gorr and his origins on how he came to get this title. He seemed like a rather decent guy but ultimately a tragic experience pushes him to the dark side. He begins to destroy all of the gods one by one. We then cut to Thor who is in a bit of a slump. He goes around and finishes battles with his immense strength but it all feels empty to him. Now this mission to save the gods and his people may be just what Thor needs but he will have to also deal with the shock of seeing Jane Foster become the new Thor. Will they be able to put aside their past history to team up and take Gorr down?
There’s a lot to unpack here so first lets start off with some of the really solid aspects. The action scenes are great when they happen. The biggest highlight for me was naturally the big team up with Thor and Jane as we get to see a lot of good combos there. The movie does a good job of having each energy weapon be a slightly different color which works well for contrast during the battles. There’s a lot of good movement here and I would say the power levels are accounted for as well. Each fighter has a different fighting strategy based on how they battle.
Thor still retains his power increase from Ragnarok which is important. For the most part I didn’t have too many strength issues. There is a moment involving being tied up that I found a little hard to buy and one or two fights end in more of a stalemate than I would have expected. It’s all more on the mild side though and nothing as head scratching as the Kurse fight from film 2. There’s one scene where Thor holds back two sci-fi motorbikes with his legs which may be the most impressive physical feat we’ve seen from him.
The soundtrack is also very solid. Not quite Dr. Strange level but there are a lot of good action tunes. I do think it was an odd decision to leave the best sounding lyrical song for the credits though. I think it would have worked really well during the movie similar to how Ragnarok had a song that appeared when Thor unlocked his true abilities. Either way it makes for a fun soundtrack to look up online.
As the main character Thor is good even if he’s still feeling a bit of his Endgame depression here. The movie plays up the gag with his hammers a bit too much and Thor has slowly become more of a full on comedic character than an action star. You can definitely have the balance of both and do it well but what makes that work is Thor’s full confidence. The scene with him taking the gang to Zeus’ palace for example can have some decent humor moments but it all feels a bit out of character. Thor’s the kind of hero who would usually take to the stage and start talking as opposed to almost being nervous and just staying in the stands the whole time. Thor can have a hero sure…but the whole thing didn’t really make sense.
So Thor is good and looks strong in combat but I wouldn’t say it was his best appearance. During battle there is no problem as he goes all in. There’s one scene in particular that is pretty much taken out of the Seven Deadly Sins playbook involving a solid catch and throw back that was very impressive. Definitely one of the highlights. The romance scenes can have him struggling a bit but in general the romance in the film was really weak. It’s been so long since Thor and Jane have been apart that this should really be something that they don’t rebound into. Stay as good friends and that would have been a much better dynamic. You could probably have better banter that way as well. There wasn’t any romance scene here that really worked.
Then we have Jane as the main heroine and she is a good character. I thought her plan involving using Mjolnir was a pretty smart one and I would have expected it to work a lot better. Her plot is the serious one in the film and provides a contrast to the happy Thor moments. Ultimately she’s a solid character who makes the right choices in the end and her fans should be really pleased with her portrayal here. She uses the hammer in a lot of creative ways too.
Valkyrie’s role is a lot smaller here than last time but she is around for the whole journey. Unfortunately she just can’t keep up in terms of raw power along with the others at this point so she tends to play more of a backup role. I like that she’s always ready to fight though and she gets more to do than Lady Sif, that’s for sure. Jane’s friend gets an even smaller role and that was a supremely good idea since she doesn’t add much to the story.
Zeus looks awful but I won’t go into that much further for spoiler purposes. Lets just say that I don’t see him gaining any real fans from this appearance. Now we get to Gorr and I thought he was an interesting villain. I’m a little less impressed with the execution as I felt the film could make him a little overboard in how petty he could be. (Scaring some kids comes to mind) His goal actually makes sense and the intro scene does a lot to really get his character across. His actions in the grand scheme make sense as a result which makes him a really interesting villain.
I felt like the writers realized he was starting to get a little too sympathetic so they had to quickly try and stop that but it’s not needed. Having a villain like this is always a good idea because even if you don’t root for them, at least they’re not just randomly psychotic. I would argue that at times the film even shows how a lot of people would potentially support his goal to destroy all of the gods. Over 90% of the gods we’ve met have all looked absolutely lousy and are basically unchecked evil. The heroes aren’t going to deal with them so that’s where Gorr steps in. That could be a longer editorial in itself but basically the appeal is that he’s like the Punisher. A villain who is judging other villains but down the road Gorr starts to be more generally unstable and and loses focus in his vision which hurts him as a character.
Now lets talk about the rankings a bit. So ultimately I would say that Ragnarok is clear and away the best of the 4 Thor films. I wouldn’t consider it to be that close. In second would be Thor 2, then Love and Thunder, followed by the original Thor movie. The reason why the first Thor film is at the end is really because there wasn’t a whole lot of action and it’s old enough where the visuals don’t hold up next to the others. Still a solid movie but in last by a solid amount.
The reason why The Dark World beats this one mainly comes down to that film having better pacing. Love and Thunder has higher peaks with its action scenes but also lower lows. Dark World had some cringe humor of its own but it doesn’t last as long and tends to rebound quicker. Yes, there’s the infamous moment of Thor’s mother being murdered and he’s back to joking shortly after, but this film matches that. There’s a moment where some people are kidnapped and are in mortal danger. Seconds…literally seconds later and Thor is back to flirting and joking around with Jane. Both of them seem to not care at all until a little later when they address the situation. That’s a perfect example of humor appearing at the worst possible moment.
Humor in itself can be a lot of fun of course. A lot of the best titles out there have a lot of humor and it works well but it’s all about timing. This film didn’t always get that across like with the Zeus scenes being way dragged out and Thor’s friends really not being helpful for a while there. Characters like Iron Man, Spider Man, and Ant Man just tend to have a better balance. They’re funnier and of course that does come down to writing of course but it also fits in with their characters more. If you want a comedic Thor, Ragnarok shows how to get the best balance of this as he’s still supremely confident as opposed to joking more at his own expense.
Then there’s also a very cheesy scene near the end. Lets just say it involves sharing power but man while it’s supposed to be an inspirational moment and all, it was still just hard to get into. Super convenient to have this on the go but I would have cut that scene out entirely and just had Thor use some cool range moves. It would have had a whole lot more impact that way.
The visuals are stunning all the way through, even away from the action scenes. I saw the movie in 3D so it was a little blurrier than usual. I couldn’t necessarily make out any easter eggs if they were too far in the background or get the full battle experience but all of them will likely be up on Youtube in 4K soon so then it’s time to relive the epic battles. I hope the films continue with emphasizing the glow of the weapons because it’s an almost anime type technique that immediately enhances a battle. Watch any Ufotable battle and you see that one of the tricks they used to have the best animation is that there are always a lot of colors at play.
I also enjoyed seeing the Guardians of the Galaxy for a bit. Their role is small but this is a really solid way to remind you that this is a cinematic universe without having the guest stars steal the film. (Not that I ever mind having them get a huge amount of screen time) It’s a very solid way to get this across. As a final note before approaching the end, I thought the way the film handled the monsters was really good and how the heroes would take care of them. I’m mainly thinking of the battle on the black and white planet. Instead of it being a traditional 3 vs 1, you had a 3 v 1 with a lot of monsters acting as stage hazards.
The characters would have to deal with them at times while also trying not to lose sight of Gorr and it helped make the battles more tense. Also, while the monsters were glass cannons, they could still deal a whole lot of damage so it’s not like you could ignore them completely. I wonder if this planet is one of the moments where there was some cut footage because there’s a scene involving a big blow and then next has the characters walking and squaring up for a fight. It felt like something was just missing there. Either way one of the best sequences there.
The ending to the movie is good and sets up a lot of fun ideas for the next movie. In theory there’s a whole new avenue of situations and scenarios that you can do now so I’ll be interested to see how that goes. In a lot of ways I can easily see the next one beating this film. The setups that are around have a whole lot of potential. The first after credits scene gives us a good glimpse of how the next film might go. Now, this next opponent is not even remotely a threat at this point in time but I’m sure there will be a way to even the playing field. There’s only one aspect I didn’t like about the first after credits scene and it involves one of the characters who appeared. I just don’t see the value in having him around so hopefully the next film can change my mind. It’s too bad the Avengers aren’t fully formed right now because this plot could almost work as the next Avengers title rather than a Thor standalone movie.
As for the second after credits scene, it’s decent enough. It opens the door to some interesting possibilities. If it follows a DBZ kind of logic, it will open things up almost as much as the whole multiverse angle. The movie already showed us a decently high cosmic level of things so at this point there isn’t much that you can rule out from the films incorporating into future plots. That’s a good thing since it will help to keep things really unpredictable.
Overall, Thor: Love and Thunder is a pretty good movie. With the big theater films there is always a lot to discuss. Ultimately it’s going to have less replay value than most of the other recent Marvel movies though. It beats Eternals but gets slaughtered by all of the other Phase IV titles. (Shang Chi, Spiderman, Dr. Strange, Black Widow) It beats Guardians of the Galaxy 2 but loses to all of the other Phase III titles. You get the idea and of course that does speak to how solid the Marvel movies have been for this to still be a positive score and lose to so many but it also shows how this movie didn’t reach its full potential. Most likely you’ll rewatch the fights online more than you will the whole movie. Still, the benefit of the comedic tone is that you can put this film on and just enjoy the moments. It’s mostly all light hearted and even if it does drag at times, there are still a lot of good moments. If you like the Marvel films then you’ll want to check this one out.