After Taika Waititi rehabilitated Thor with Thor: Ragnarok, expectations were high for its follow-up, Love and Thunder, which promised to not only bring back Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster but also feature Christian Bale’s first foray into the MCU. So did the movie live up to the hype? Let’s find out …
1. What is your tweet-length review of Thor: Love and Thunder?
Andrew Gruttadaro: What a tonal mindfuck—child death and abduction and Stage 4 cancer mixed with yelping goats, jokes about god orgies, and a love triangle between Chris Hemsworth, a hammer, and an ax. It was a miss for me, and yet my theater was in stitches. Is this the most polarizing Marvel movie ever?
Kai Grady: An absolute blast of a superhero flick that—for better or for worse—never takes itself too seriously. Due to the combination of its breakneck pace and shorter running time, it does suffer from jarring shifts, but still, it’s easily the most fun I’ve had at a Marvel movie in years.
Daniel Chin: It’s so ridiculous, to a fault at times, but few MCU movies have made me laugh as much as Love and Thunder did.
Khal Davenport: I don’t know what the future holds for the Thor franchise, but bring back those screaming goats.
2. What was the best moment of the film?
Davenport: Those screaming goats. Seriously, cutting back to their first introduction and they’re still just screaming their heads off? It’s how I felt, internally.
Gruttadaro: I could watch Gorr drag around the Necrosword for two straight hours. Christian Bale gave this movie so much more than it deserved.
Chin: The introduction of Bao, god of dumplings. I have many questions about MCU gods after watching this movie, but Bao is a god to believe in.
Surrey: I loved Russell Crowe hamming it up as a washed Zeus. He looked (and sounded) like one of my Greek relatives after one too many glasses of ouzo.
Grady: Thor and Dr. Jane Foster (a.k.a. Mighty Thor, put some respect on her name) reuniting for the first time in eight years, seven months, and six days (give or take). Although we saw Natalie Portman cameo as Foster back in Endgame, she’s given much more to play with in Love and Thunder. The two Thors teaming up against Gorr’s shadow creatures and quipping about their love life felt like a scene plucked straight out of an Avengers movie. Also, seeing Mjolnir back in action was just so incredibly satisfying—that thing where it would break apart and come back together was extremely cool.
Adeniran: Every scene alluding to a love triangle between Thor, Mjolnir, and Stormbreaker. I’ve always wanted a romantic comedy in the MCU.
3. What was your least favorite part of the movie?
Davenport: The times when those screaming goats weren’t on screen.
Adeniran: For a guy called Gorr the God Butcher, we don’t see him butcher many gods.
Chin: Gorr the God Butcher was a bit of a missed opportunity. He’s a great villain in the comics, and Christian Bale plays him well, but it almost feels like he showed up for the wrong movie. As funny as Love and Thunder is, its overall lack of seriousness makes its sparing moments of earnest drama—from Jane Foster’s cancer story line to everything Gorr—feel out of place.
Surrey: I mean, where to start? It’s never encouraging when half the jokes in a film don’t land or the characters go from scene to scene without any real purpose. Taika Waititi has been responsible for some great stuff—What We Do in the Shadows, Our Flag Means Death—but he might work best with collaborators who can reel in some of his worst impulses.
Grady: The sequence on the Shadow Realm just didn’t do it for me. The presence of a muted black-and-white landscape to provide stark contrast to the vivid, lively nature of the rest of the film is perfect … in theory. While at times it was aesthetically pleasing to see the visuals drained of their vibrancy and replaced with bursts of color from either Stormbreaker or Zeus’s thunderbolt, it mostly came off as gimmicky.
Gruttadaro: With all of these MCU productions, all I really want is to be able to briefly forget that Disney is an inescapable behemoth that’s wiping out Hollywood’s middle class and turning every single thing into intellectual property to be squeezed to a pulp at a later date. Which is why I hated the Bao scene with all of my soul.
4. Who is Love and Thunder’s MVP?
Chin: There are two of them: Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder. Their horrifying human-goat screams never stopped being funny to me.
Surrey: If only the rest of Love and Thunder had the same manic energy as Christian Bale …
Adeniran: Christian Bale was DEEP in his bag as Gorr in the film. Every time he appeared on screen, he pulled in a level of gravitas and intensity that puts his rendition in the MCU’s pantheon of performances.
Grady: It’s Christian Bale and it’s not even close. Bale was putting up numbers the entire time during Love and Thunder. I’m talking Steph Curry unanimous MVP–type numbers. His performance was haunting, grounded, heartbreaking, and sometimes even funny. Add Gorr to the list of Hall of Fame MCU villains next to Killmonger, Thanos, and Loki.
Gruttadaro: Christian Bale, obviously—but also Matt Damon being like, “Hey can I turn this child tragedy into a play?”
5. Choose your weapon: Mjolnir or Stormbreaker?
Grady: Why not both?
Chin: Mjolnir. Stormbreaker was a little off its game in this one, and Jane unlocked a new skill that turns Mjolnir’s broken body into a unique advantage. If the hammer’s interesting new look, designed by Thor’s newly adopted daughter, is here to stay, though, we might have to revisit this question.
Adeniran: While Mjolnir has the sentimentality, Stormbreaker offers me the Bifrost at will. Instant travel to any realm I please? You know how much time I would save? I’m rocking with Stormbreaker all day.
Surrey: I’ll go with Stormbreaker, if only because I appreciate a weapon that’s a bit sassy.
Davenport: Mjolnir, for sure. Stormbreaker had an attitude throughout most of the film—I wonder whether that’s teen Groot’s fault.
Gruttadaro: Stormbreaker is aesthetically the cooler weapon, but that thing has a real jealousy problem. I can’t be worried that my ax is gonna give me the silent treatment while I’m trying to destroy a population of owl-aliens.
6. … Does Gorr have a point?
Gruttadaro: Gorr was like, “All the gods are dicks who don’t care if their followers live or die,” and then all the gods (minus Thor, I guess) were shown to be cowardly, horny idiots. So yeah, Gorr had a point. Was the movie trying to make me think he wasn’t in the right?
Adeniran: Let’s see, Gorr wants to destroy the established hierarchy that has hoarded power and wealth for generations in order to return it to the common folk whose situation has been getting worse and worse over the years …
Yeah, he might have a point.
Chin: Given how Zeus couldn’t stop talking about orgies when Thor was trying to explain the dire situation at hand, and how no other gods offered to help either (I expected more from the dumpling god), I’d say that Gorr has a point. Still, Love and Thunder could’ve done a better job of working to prove Gorr’s perspective, or at least raising the legitimacy of it. Like, sure, the gods could do more than sit around and encourage the overindulgences of the almighty Zeus, but is kidnapping a bunch of children and launching them into space really the solution here?
Surrey: Like Black Panther’s Killmonger, Gorr was making so much sense that they made him do something that would seem unforgivable to the audience.
Grady: I would go even further and say that Gorr was actually right. Yeah, kidnapping a bunch of innocent children and holding them hostage in a creepy shadow cage isn’t great, but from his point of view, the gods deserved to feel the same pain he did after losing his daughter.
Davenport: Yes, but I wonder whether Gorr would’ve had that same viewpoint if his god actually provided for his people.
7. You have one day in New Asgard—what’s the itinerary?
Chin: I’d catch Matt Damon and Luke Hemsworth’s next Asgardian theatrical production and grab a scoop of ice cream at Infinity Conez (Power Pralines ’N’ Cream? Tesseract Tiramisu? Chitauri Chip Cookie Dough? Is there anything here?). Then I’d probably spend the rest of the day at the local pub. If you ever have the chance to drink with Asgardians, I feel like you have to take it.
Gruttadaro: I hear the local theater troupe is tremendous. After the show they might even consult with you on crypto.
Adeniran: Valkyrie, the goats, and I share a few adult beverages as we think about ways to find the woman of our dreams.
Davenport: Taking in some theater and then learning how to, I don’t know, swing an ax or wrestle an ice god.
Surrey: I ask Valkyrie out on a date. And after she rejects me, I drown my sorrows in some Infinity Conez ice cream.
8. What does Love and Thunder say about Phase 4 of the MCU?
Surrey: Even though I’ve enjoyed some of the recent films for trying something different (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Eternals), Phase 4 still feels like a ship without a rudder. (Or, I guess, two giant screaming goats leading a Viking ship through space.)
Davenport: You ever go through a Dragon Ball Z rewatch and you hit those obvious filler/side missions that weren’t in the manga and have nothing to do with the main objective of the story? Love and Thunder feels like that—a kind of fun, mostly meh exercise on the treadmill.
Chin: After weaving together an interconnected narrative in the Infinity Saga that remained intact even when individual movies stumbled, the MCU has felt aimless ever since. I still enjoyed watching Love and Thunder, but almost every Phase 4 movie has now had its own doomsday event that only a few of the world’s many superheroes ever seem to notice at a time—and the crises are all averted by the end. It doesn’t feel like there’s much at stake anymore after the world, and universe, has been saved so many times. Korg even makes light of this at the beginning of Love and Thunder—and by the time he narrates the ending, the universe has already been saved again.
Adeniran: It says what the Midnight Boys have been saying since Multiverse of Madness: The disconnected nature of Phase 4 is a problem. When the films are just OK and don’t really advance any kind of bigger MCU agenda, fans will start to wonder why they showed up. Between the gluttony of movies and shows, Kevin Feige and Marvel need to tighten the screws.
Grady: Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the galaxy’s most lovable space viking, I cannot help but continue to be disappointed with Phase 4. Love and Thunder works best in a vacuum, which is the opposite of what Marvel has conditioned audiences to expect.
Gruttadaro: For a franchise that has been famously praised for its interconnectivity, things are feeling mighty disjointed right now. Love and Thunder feels miles away from Shang-Chi. Every movie seems to be doing its own thing, the next big bad guy—Kang, or at least multiversal mania—hasn’t materialized, and the existence of the TV shows is making everything feel watered down. I yearn for the days of Endgame, when all of this felt like it meant something.
9. We’ve made it this far. It’s time to talk about Hercules’s end-credits scene.
Adeniran: HE’S HERE, HE’S THERE, HE’S EVERY-FUCKING-WHERE IT’S … Hercules?
Chin: You should’ve heard the gasp I let out when I saw Roy Kent from Ted Lasso playing Hercules. I was almost waiting for Love and Thunder to reveal Zeus and Hercules to be actors as part of the Asgardian troupe, since the father-son duo feel like spoofs more than anything else. But, you know, after retiring from soccer, Roy managed to find a second life in television, and then a third as a coach—who’s to say the guy can’t become a Greek hero (god?) in the MCU?
Gruttadaro: AM I SUPPOSED TO BE TAKING THAT SERIOUSLY?! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE TAKING THAT SERIOUSLY?!
Grady: At first I was pleasantly surprised to see Brett Goldstein suit up as Hercules, but after more thought it feels like yet another hollow Phase 4 post-credits scene: [Insert beloved comic book character here] played by [insert surprise big-name actor here], introduced by [insert tongue-in-cheek line of dialogue here]. It was cool the first few times—Harry Styles as Starfox or Charlize Theron as Clea—but now it feels a bit stale.
Davenport: As a Marvel Comics fan, I wasn’t shocked to see Hercules in an MCU film—they’d been playing up the “gods” heavy, and it looks like they will finally dip into that bag. That said, I was more shocked that it was Goldstein portraying the iconic character. If Taika Waititi is doing the fifth (?!?!) Thor film, I can’t front like I’m not intrigued by what Thor and Hercules can get into, but with the way Phase 4 is looking right now, Hercules being the last thing we see doesn’t hit the same as, say, Thanos having to do it himself … or even Stan Lee trying to get a ride home.
Surrey: As a bit, it’s definitely amusing. As an actual antagonist in the next movie, I won’t be able to look at Herculean Roy Kent without imagining him getting a red card for a two-footed tackle on Thor.