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Thor: Love and Thunder once again instills writer/director Taika Waititi’s wacky charm into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, he tries to balance some of it out with a touching dramatic narrative arc. Thor: Love and Thunder very much fits within the MCU canon, but it certainly exists better as a standalone movie than many of its franchise predecessors.

'Thor: Love and Thunder' 3.5 graphic

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ introduces a god-level threat

'Thor: Love and Thunder' Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor standing next to each other in their costumes in front of grassy hill
L-R: Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor | Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios/Disney

Thor: Love and Thunder continues to explore the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. The god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth) assists the Guardians of the Galaxy in their adventures until he must work with an unlikely team of his own to defeat a new threat. This new villain plans to make all gods extinct in the form of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale).

Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman) join Thor to fight Gorr and save the universe’s gods. The team will have to work together if they hope to put an end to Gorr’s slaughter. However, Thor and Mighty Thor still have unresolved romantic tensions that could undermine their success.

Writer/director Taika Waititi takes the title very literally

Thor: Love and Thunder introduces a very different god of thunder than audiences are accustomed to. He gave up on love after his traumatic breakup with Jane and the loss of his powerful weapon, Mjølnir. The aftermath is an identity crisis on an epic level. Meanwhile, Jane is navigating the hardships of stage 4 cancer, but her newfound magical powers could be the answer. Waititi takes the title of “love” and “thunder” very literally, incorporating both with equal weight.

Waititi doesn’t back down from his comedic charm that is simultaneously ridiculous and enchanting. He isn’t afraid to parody the first three Thor installments, which also offers audiences a reminder of all that occurred up to this point. Thor: Love and Thunder is a testament to how far the MCU has come, as well as a comprehensive look at the title character’s arc. Running gags involving goats and weapons run a bit tired, but they still earn their laughs.

Gorr is one of the biggest stand-outs of the film. Thor: Love and Thunder initially introduces him as a perspective character, instantly informing the audience of both his importance and his accessibility. Not all gods are kind and he’s living proof of that. This also echos in Thor’s interactions with the heroes he always looked up to. “Suffering” for greater beings runs through the narrative, further building on the MCU’s relationship between gods and humans.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ is a wild ride for ‘Ragnarok’ fans

'Thor: Love and Thunder' Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher wearing a white robe in front of floating space debris
Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher | Marvel Studios/Disney

Gorr Trends on Social Media After ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Teaser Hypes Epic Battle

Thor: Love and Thunder continues to explore how the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame impacted the world. They branched into pieces of popular culture around the world, as a universal genocide became a commodity. Waititi continues to expand the MCU’s scope and scale to another level, as is the trend in Phase 4 with every passing installment. However, it’s done at an exponential rate that could benefit from a slower build, as earlier phases did.

Waititi’s visual palette plays with a lot of colors over the course of Thor: Love and Thunder on both ends of the spectrum. He explores bright, nostalgic colors, only to appropriately turn his aesthetic into black-and-white with pops of color for emphasis. The CGI is questionable at times, but it still manages to provide enticing action sequences.

Thor: Love and Thunder runs a bit out of steam from time to time, but its performers never falter. Hemsworth continues to play up Thor’s schtick that audiences have come to love. However, Portman and Bale steal the show as Mighty Thor and Gorr. Portman carries Jane with an emotional quality that audiences haven’t seen from this character thus far. Additionally, Bale is equal parts terrifying and earnest, painting a villain that viewers will simultaneously fear, but also understand.

MCU fatigue is real for some audiences who are overwhelmed by the number of feature films and Disney+ series. Waititi’s return to the franchise won’t change any minds, but it will continue to build on the faith of longtime fans. Thor: Love and Thunder is a pop-rock visual extravaganza told through a series of legends that plays right off the Ragnarok chord.

Thor: Love and Thunder strikes theater screens on July 8.