By Emily-Rose Toohey
The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) instalment, Thor: Love and Thunder, dropped in theatres last month and is the fourth movie of the character’s solo franchise and the second of Taika Waititi’s MCU directorial outings.
Following the critical and commercial success of 2017’s Thor: Ragnorak, fan expectations were high, especially after the dwindling quality of content released by Marvel over the past year.
Thor: Love and Thunder follows the titular character (played by Chris Hemsworth) in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame and him dealing with the loss of his family and home.
The film kicks off with him travelling with the Guardians of the Galaxy crew, before returning to New Asgard on earth where a new evil is wreaking havoc.
This powerful being is known as Gorr the God Butcherer (played by an intimidating Christian Bale), who’s intent on murdering the gods with his specially crafted sword.
However, that’s not the only surprise awaiting Thor as he returns to his people – his ex-girlfriend Jane (played by Natalie Portman) somehow has the power of a god and is wielding his old hammer, Mjölnir.
As it turns out, Jane, who is known for her scientific skills, has been diagnosed with cancer and she’s refusing to let it stop her from living.
She feels drawn to the hammer’s location, which was previously shattered by the last film’s big bad Hela (played by Cate Blanchett), and is bestowed powers akin to that of Thor.
In an attempt for the filmmakers to explain how such a thing could occur, it’s revealed that due to Thor and Jane’s bond, the latter also bonded with Mjölnir which allowed her to access its power.
From an outside perspective, this plotline feels like the MCU’s way of redeeming the way Jane (and Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, who was very underutilised) had been treated in the first two Thor films, which is accomplished with some success.
The core plot of the movie follows Thor, Jane, Korg (voiced by the Kiwi director Taika Waititi), and Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) as they set off to rescue the Asgardian children who were kidnapped by the God Butcherer as part of his evil plan.
With plenty of bright colours, screaming goats, a Russell Crowe cameo as Zeus, and all-around goofiness, the film is very easy to watch and is what one would expect from a Marvel film.
Apart from that, there wasn’t much that was outstanding about Thor: Love and Thunder except perhaps Bale, who gives the role his all.
It had very big shoes to fill after the success of the previous movie, which felt like it reimagined an otherwise slightly uninteresting, too serious character.
But where Thor: Love and Thunder failed most overall was its handling of Jane who in the end – and this is your official spoiler warning – dies protecting the children, as her using the powers of Thor was worsening her cancer.
It seemed to defeat the whole purpose of bringing her back and like 99 per cent of all Marvel films, character development is not a priority and storylines therefore often miss the emotional punch.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for an easily consumed, light-hearted watch, look no further than the latest Thor film, which is currently playing in cinemas.