Thor has always been a fighter. Ever since he arrived in the nascent Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2011’s Thor, few Marvel superheroes or villains have been worthier opponents on the battlefield than Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder. Over the course of three standalone features and four Avengers team-ups, though, Thor has lost his parents, his adoptive brother, his best friends, even his entire home world. Now, as a new queen watches over New Asgard, Thor is ready to hang up his cape and his enchanted ax, Stormbreaker, for good.
After a long wait following 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, Thor is back in the first trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder, which premiered on Monday. At a brisk 89 seconds, not much of the upcoming film’s plot is revealed during the teaser, but it’s filled with familiar faces, including one Asgardian god who’s prepared for some major life changes. “These hands were once used for battle,” Thor says at the opening of the trailer. “Now they’re but humble tools for peace. I need to figure out exactly who I am.”
With Thanos gone and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) taking over the boring bureaucratic duties of rebuilding Asgard on Earth, Thor has no responsibilities and is free to find a new path. He’s working to shed the extra weight he put on during his years-long depressive state in Endgame while wearing an incredible “Strongest Avenger” hat, and he’s back in space traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy—with the notable exception of Gamora, who’s probably in the midst of her own existential crisis after arriving in a timeline where her future self is dead. But even as his motley crew of traveling companions searches for its next fight, Thor claims his “superheroing days are over.”
Along with the Guardians, the Love and Thunder teaser features glimpses of Valkyrie, as she suffers through a conference about renewable energy while wearing a business suit, as well as the one-and-only rock gladiator Korg, who, like Thor, has made some bold wardrobe changes that may be a better fit for a “Sweet Child O’ Mine” music video:
While the trailer withholds any appearances by the film’s main villain, Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher, it does provide a first look at the fabled Olympus. In light of the dearth of gods in the MCU, Norse mythology is being replaced in Love and Thunder with that of the Greeks, as Thor crosses paths with another god of thunder: Zeus. Though his role in the movie is reportedly only cameo-sized, Russell Crowe (or at least the back of his head) has arrived:
The upcoming film is set to hit theaters on July 8. Excluding last summer’s Black Widow prequel, Love and Thunder will be the first movie to center on one of the founding Avengers in the MCU’s Phase 4. With Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow all gone, Marvel Studios has turned to introducing a new roster of superheroes on the big and small screens, from Shang-Chi and the Eternals to Kate Bishop and Moon Knight. Yet Thor remains—but perhaps not for much longer.
As only the fourth film in the MCU, 2011’s Thor dates back to a different era of Marvel movie-making, when Marvel Studios was still tinkering with its formula and searching for the proper tone for each of its title characters. With Kenneth Branagh at the helm of Thor’s origin story, the character was more self-serious and “Shakespeare in the Park” than the one we see today—and the less said about Thor’s disastrous follow-up, The Dark World, the better. After the Thor franchise yielded one of Marvel’s worst films to date, however, Marvel Studios turned to director Taika Waititi, who made the wise decision to take advantage of Hemsworth’s underutilized comedic sensibilities for the fantastic Thor: Ragnarok in 2017. With the endearing and contentious bromance between Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and Thor on full display in the teaser, along with its purported premise of a near-immortal god deciding he suddenly wants to “live in the moment,” Waititi’s Love and Thunder is a far cry from the Thor we witnessed over a decade ago, as the franchise has transformed into a full-blown space comedy.
Although the vast majority of the preview is dedicated to catching up with Thor as he rediscovers himself, its final 10 seconds tease the return of an important character who is primed for a bigger, more exciting role, after being absent from the MCU since The Dark World. Natalie Portman is back as Dr. Jane Foster, and she’s ready (and seemingly bulked up enough) to wield a repaired Mjolnir:
When Patty Jenkins was fired and replaced by Alan Taylor to finish directing 2013’s The Dark World, Portman appeared to be done with the MCU. Aside from some minor voice work in Endgame, that remained true until Waititi came to Portman with the prospect of a heightened role in Love and Thunder. Instead of being little more than Thor’s love interest, Foster will now become the Mighty Thor herself, following the trajectory of her character in the comics during Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman’s run, which began in 2014. It remains to be seen if Portman’s Foster will retain the title of the Goddess of Thunder in future films, as Thor appears primed to join Clint Barton in superhero retirement, but Love and Thunder is shaping up to be one of the most exciting blockbuster releases of the summer.