There are people who will not be completely smitten with Taika Waititi’s return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor: Love and Thunder by the time the Marvel Studios logo ends. I am not that person. I like to have a good time at the movies. This is a film that manages to continue the adventures of our favorite Norse God, while pushing the MCU into strange, hilarious, and, yes, even emotional realms.
Waititi is hands down the best thing that ever happened to Thor, because the first two were comparatively dour affairs that took themselves too seriously — much like the Jason Aaron comic book runs this is largely based on. The Thor saga continues to morph as far from the tone of the comics as you could think. Love and Thunder is the first MCU film that’s a flat out comedy and all the better for it.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been spending his days saving the galaxy with our favorite Guardians: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Rocket (voiced by Brad Cooper), and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). But the time has come to reunite with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) after she picks up the mantle of “The Mighty Thor” — with Mjolnir deeming her worthy — after they discover that Gorr (Christian Bale) has been completing his quest to kill all Gods.
Now, they must band together, along with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Waititi), and a pair of screaming goats, to stop “The God Butcher” before he finishes off every last one of them on his quest to Eternity.
In classic Phase 4 fashion, Love and Thunder may not have the thickest of plots, but it more than makes up for it with exuberant style, non-stop laughs, and even some tugs on the ol’ heartstrings. Waititi has always been brilliant at pitting drama with the laughs and there’s no sign of him slowing down. Here we find Waititi — along with co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson — cranking things up to 11. Some might not care for the slight character arcs, but for what we do get, they completely work.
The jokes fly fast and furious, while the cast all play spectacularly off each other. Portman may feel like the odd one out for a comedy, but she has plenty of experience — look no further than her two videos with The Lonely Island — and brings her A-game. Even Hemsworth has never been better, elevating Thor’s pathos before the credits roll.
Cameos also abound, but never detract from the shenanigans. Bale gives a mesmerizing performance as Gorr, crafting an unpredictable villain due to his ability to — as colleague Patrick Beatty mentioned on our way through the parking lot — bounce from Monty Python to Shakespearean at the drop of a hat. The finale may feel a bit confusing, but I’m sure repeat viewings will reveal something that got missed due. There’s even a joke so hilarious it broke me for a good few minutes. Bravo, Waititi, bravo.
For anyone who’s been feeling like Phase 4 has been directionless, don’t worry, things are finally starting to come together. Let’s just say, you definitely won’t want to miss the mid-credit scene, and there’s also a post-credits scene as well. Thor: Love and Thunder kicks Phase 4 into overdrive and I cannot wait to see where Kevin Feige is steering this endgame.