‘Thor: Love and Thunder’: Why Some Fans Worry It Won’t Top ‘Ragnarok’

Thor: Ragnarok was far and away the most successful of the standalone Thor movies, so a lot is riding on the success of Thor: Love and Thunder, which is supposed to wrap up Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2021. Since fans are so much looking forward to it, they’re playing the usual game of “Please don’t suck.” 

Such fears are not entirely unfounded. Aside from Ragnarok, the Thor movies are not as highly regarded as, say, Captain America’s or even Ant-Man’s. However, there are also multiple signs that Marvel isn’t about to drop the hammer now.. 

How did the Thor movies do? 

Natalie Portman on the red carpet
Natalie Portman | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

The first movie did respectable business for Marvel, grossing $181 million in 2011. That may seem like small potatoes now, but it was a decent start back in the days of Phase One, when Marvel was still laying its foundations. Fans particularly applauded the performances of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki. 

The second movie, The Dark World,  grossed a little more, making $206 million, but for some fans, it was one of those movies that was fun while you watched it, then it evaporated almost immediately. The movie generated negative headlines when Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) left the directing gig, which reportedly displeased Natalie Portman.

Finally, it all came together in Thor: Ragnarok, which cut loose with a zany sensibility. Fans loved the Thor/Hulk scenes, and the movie had a stronger personality in the hands of director Taika Waititi, who made a name for himself with What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the WIlderpeople.

It paid off handsomely at the box office, with the movie topping $300 million. Fans also thought Thor had a strong arc in Avengers: Endgame, where had had to come back not just from losing to Thanos, but a profound sense of self-loathing for failing to kill Thanos. 

Why are fans nervous about ‘Love and Thunder’?

When Portman raised Thor’s hammer aloft with the announcement of Love and Thunder, in which Jane Foster will become a new Thor, fans cheered wildly, but she was nervous, and fans are too, partly because Marvel seems to be taking its sweet time getting going. 

The movie is supposed to come out in less than two years, but reports like this one from Comicbook.com indicate the script still isn’t finished. When asked what he could expect from the film, Hemsworth gave the not-so-helpful answer of “Lots of love and lots of thunder.” 

One fan on Reddit said, “Am honestly hyped for this movie. Am only worried it might not be as impactful as Ragnarok cause I did not expect Ragnarok to be as good as it was. Now I know and I want more.” So Thor’s biggest enemy, in a sense, is the lofty expectations set by his last movie. 

Another fan wrote, “I don’t want Love and Thunder to be funnier than Thor Ragnarok. I thought the humor in Thor Ragnarok was enough, I wouldn’t have liked the movie if there is more humor than there actually is. I want Thor 4 to be dramatic and impactful.”

Why ‘Love and Thunder’ will probably be fine

With Waititi apparently still working on the script, a lot of unknowns are at play here. And it’s probably a good idea not to raise hopes too high, because especially in fan communities, nothing stings like dashed expectations. Phantom Menace, anyone? 

Marvel has had a few misfires, but they seem to have gotten most of them out of the way in Phase One when the studio was still finding its feet. By now, Marvel is nothing if not a well-oiled machine, with that machine kicking into overdrive. There are four movies and four TV shows coming out in 2021 alone. They’ll run the risk of spreading themselves too thin. 

Still, one fan responded to another fan’s concerns simply by saying, “Go watch Jojo (Rabbit) then. Super Good.” Waititi is riding high on the acclaim of his latest film, in which he plays Hitler as the nonsensical imaginary friend of a young boy in the Hitler Youth.

Waititi is one of the relative few Marvel directors to imprint his own style on the MCU, and his involvement is what persuaded Portman to return. Odds are strong that Love and Thunder can capture lightning in a bottle again.