Thor and friends are back with another fantastic, and hilarious sequel with Thor: Love and Thunder. Filmmaker Taika Waititi has amped up the humor, characters, and stakes in this fourth installment that promises to keep its engines running at full steam ahead for the foreseeable future. Hemsworth, Portman, and Thompson turn in terrific performances with Christian Bale bringing a layered and vicious villain to life. Thor: Love and Thunder might just be the most exciting and fun Marvel film to date.
Those first two Thor movies felt very Shakespearean in tone. The movies took themselves seriously without fully using the great comedic chops of Chris Hemsworth. There was some decent action and a ton of great Asgardian world-building, but the sense of fun was missing, especially from the sequel that is usually at the bottom of everyone's MCU ranking. When Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Jojo Rabbit) came aboard, he added his own unique comedy style and more or less, rebooted Thor into this adventurous, funny, lovable guy who is still trying to find himself. With the quirky characters from Thor: Ragnarok, taking their cues from the amazing characters of Guardians of the Galaxy, audiences gravitated more towards those funny and energetic personas, thus the new Thor from Ragnarok was born.
Leaping off that amazing movie and taking place a little while after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy have been having grand adventures together, saving planets and creatures from a variety of villains. Thor has found his new persona and leaned heavily into his new Thor-ness, making sure all of his Guardian friends and people he saves feel worthy and a part of it. He's even found new ways to become one with nature and himself along with traveling on Storm-Breaker, who now has a bigger role in this movie. But below all this happiness and humor is a very lonely Asgardian who is yearning for love again. That one true love he had in Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) all those years ago is still on his mind as he hopes to find someone with that strong connection again.
Thor: Love and Thunder deliver its comedic tone within the first scene where Thor and the Guardians are saving a race of creatures from total annihilation. The back and forth banter between Thor and the Guardians is as fantastic as they ever were and it seems like the power dynamic between Quill and Thor has settled. Instead of the rock n' roll selections of Led Zeppelin, this time around it's all about Guns N' Roses, which just illuminates the visuals with each top-of-the-charts hit. It's at the end of this first scene where Thor's soft underbelly of loneliness is exposed which sets him on a path with Gorr (Christian Bale), a simple man who is scarred and let down by his God in a tragedy.
Gorr then becomes the God Butcher of vengeance and vows to kill every God in the universe, a skill he is mighty good at. This allows Thor and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to search the universe for Gorr's next victim, which is where he crosses paths with Jane (Portman), who now wields Thor's original hammer - Mjolnir. This trio must now find Gorr immediately before he can destroy every single God - including Thor himself.
It's a simple enough plot line, but the real tenderness comes with Thor and Jane's relationship as they confront their past and their future together that bringing both love, loss, and new beginnings that will add yet more amazing layers to this Thor character who has quickly become the most seasoned character in the MCU. Out of all the Marvel heroes, Thor has grown the most and he continues to find more ways to better himself. Thor: Love And Thunder is the vehicle for a new brand of Thor to come in future movies and it's such a joy to watch unfold on-screen.
Hemsworth brings even more nuance and detail to this finely tuned character of Thor as he is still pitch-perfect in his comedy, action choreography, and romance. But it's with the smaller more intense moments with Portman where these new emotions pour from and it's simply exquisite. Portman as Jane once again and now as a superhero is absolutely amazing. Her cross between the human side of Jane and a God is lovely and powerful. Tessa owns the screen every time she's on as well. Bale, once again fully immerses himself into Gorr and now ranks as one of the MCU's best villains. There's a reason for his brutality and his original sentimental side shows up often that doesn't make him a one-note baddie.
There are also some picturesque moments throughout that will be seared into the audience mind's for a long time, not to mention some very new characters that are sure to be the hit of the summer. And of course, there are two credit scenes, one of which is by far the BEST mid-credit sequence Marvel has done so far. Thor: Love And Thunder is a dynamite hit full of comedy, action, and heart. Highest Recommendation!