There have now been four Thor films and their quality varies wildly – but Thor: Love and Thunder is among the franchise’s best.
The Original Thor (2009) was a perfectly serviceable superhero origin story, that did a fine job of introducing Chris Hemsworth’s titular character without excelling enough to be truly great or being inadequate enough to be truly terrible.
Thor: The Dark World (2013) ranks among Marvel’s most forgettable films, as it features an utterly generic plotline performed by an unenthused cast who all look like they would rather be doing something else.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017), in contrast, is a spectacular comic spectacle with Taika Waititi breathing fresh new life into the Asgardian avenger.
Fortunately, lightning has struck twice, and Thor: Love and Thunder shines with the same brilliance as Ragnarok, and is nowhere near as murky and uninteresting as Dark World or the original.
The film’s antagonist Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) is, as his name would imply, travelling around the universe murdering gods.
Whilst the premise sounds cosmic and absurd, a fact not helped by Gorr’s ridiculously named weapon of choice the “necro-sword”, Gorr proves to be a surprisingly nuanced antagonist with more depth than might be expected.
Gorr isn’t the only thing about the film which is surprising.
The tone of Thor: Love and Thunder is strikingly different from what the trailer might imply.
The trailer, set to Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine, sets up a wacky sci-fi team up between Thor and the Guradians Of the Galaxy.
The actual film, whilst comedic, also manages to be heartfelt and sincere when it wants to, and the Guardians of the Galaxy disappear after the first act.
Whilst the tone is at times inconstant and sometimes bounces too quickly between comedy and tragedy, a problem shared by several other Marvel films, when Love and Thunder attempts to be dramatic it succeeds and, for all of its cosmic scope, at its core it is one of Marvel’s most human stories.
Natalie Portman’s advertised return as Dr Jane Foster, now wielding Mjolnir and serving as a hero in her own right is also terrific to see.
She is given far more to do than merely serve as the titular character’s love interest as was the case in previous instalments.
Portman delivers fantastically, now that she has been given some real material to work with, and she transforms Jane Foster from a stock action movie love interest into a fully realised character.
Thor: Love and Thunder demonstrates once again that Waititi knows what he’s doing with Thor.
Although there are a few missteps along the way, such as Russel Crowe’s slightly uncomfortable faux Greek accent in his performance as Zeus, there’s a lot to love about Thor: Love and Thunder.