By Ella Smith
From a classic superhero origin, to dramatic superhero sci-fi, to chaotic superhero comedy, the Thor movies have had quite a dramatic shift throughout the years. After Thor: Ragnarok went in such a drastically different direction than the first two movies, I was interested to see how the newest installment, also directed by Taika Waititi, would continue the series. Going into this movie I expected a humorous, bittersweet conclusion to finish off the Thor movies, say farewell to a beloved character, and tie up all the loose ends throughout the series. Suffice it to say, I was wrong.
Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) character arc was one of the most consistent components of this movie. I enjoyed how it expounded and continued his character arc, particularly from Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame. He struggled with acceptance and loss and ended the movie more at peace than he started. He found a new purpose in the movie’s resolution through an unexpected avenue leaving you surprised but not confused. Aside from that, his character didn’t undertake major changes throughout the plot, but that was perfectly fine. Major character changes weren’t really necessary for the plot to succeed and might have alienated the audience from an already well-developed character.
Much to my surprise, it was Jane (Natalie Portman) who went through the most change throughout the movie. Being the classic romantic interest in the first two movies and not even present for the third, I was interested in how she would be portrayed in this installment. I thought it was clever that her character wasn’t completely remade but instead she retained her endearing qualities while still acquiring more depth and complexity to her character arc.
One of my favorite parts of the movie was the development of Thor and Jane’s relationship. I’ll admit I found their romance in the first two movies rather bland and cheap and I didn’t find myself disappointed when it was absent from the third film. However, I found it pleasantly relatable in this movie and appreciated that the movie wasn’t afraid to poke fun at its flaws and embrace the character’s awkwardness. I thought the film skillfully and naturally bridged the gap between two characters, who were from such drastically different worlds.
Gorr (Christian Bale) on the other hand was a less compelling character. I feel so much of Thor: Love and Thunder was a romantic movie with most of the conflict between Thor and Jane that it left no room for a proper villain. He had a very basic, single-minded motivation that didn’t quite fit the chaotic mood of the movie. He also didn’t really seem to be much of a threat. Despite being proclaimed as the ‘god butcher’ he never actually did much damage on the screen. Even the main characters didn’t seem to be frantic at the thought that he would win. His character did set up the end well and paralleled both Jane and Thor’s character arcs, but it didn’t feel like he added anything unique to the story.
I think the plot especially would have benefited from a stronger villain. Although I wasn’t bored while watching the movie, I also wasn’t on the edge of my seat. It felt weak in some parts and there wasn’t a sense of urgency. While I appreciate the fact that Watiti wasn’t afraid to lean into a different take on familiar tropes and mix them in fresh ways, I felt like the plot was almost trying to be too many things at once. The film struggled to have a singular driving goal. In the end, it was apparent that stopping Gorr wasn’t all that vital to the characters and it didn’t feel like he even needed to be defeated in the climax. There was some amazing foreshadowing and hints sprinkled throughout the film that led up perfectly to a satisfying plot twist.
One thing that I enjoyed throughout the entire movie was the dialogue. It was always on point and never missed a beat. No words were wasted or out of place. Another thing to note was the tone. I really enjoyed the tone of the beginning. The eighties tunes fit right in with the classic rom-com style. It kept the story interesting and lent some humor to what could have been a dull recap. The only thing I didn’t love about the tone was how abrupt the shift was from lighthearted banter to a somber setting. It wasn’t totally out of place, it just seemed uncharacteristically sudden in some places.
Overall, this was a really fun movie. It was certainly not what I expected, and I thought some things felt out of place and unfocused. However, it was still enjoyable and humorous. It wasn’t overly shocking, intense, or epic but it did an excellent job developing and portraying characters. It also seamlessly tied in with other Thor movies. In a series that is so varying in terms of tone and style, Thor: Love and Thunder reminds you of common themes and characters throughout the franchise. Some of my favorite parts were the callbacks of past characters and scenes throughout the film. All in all, it was another unexpected Thor adventure.
Thor: Love and Thunder is streaming on Disney+ now.
Ella Smith is a freshmen professional writing and informational design student as well as a writer for Cedars. She enjoys a stack of good books, a warm cup of tea (with a fair bit of honey,) and cuddling with her dogs.