Thor: Love and Thunder finds the Norse god at a major crossroads in his life. Without a battle to fight or love to follow, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is listless and lost. His ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is inexplicably drawn to New Asgard during her own personal struggle and together they must battle a new threat who plans to murder all of the Gods.
Thor: Love and Thunder has two main issues working against it.
The first would be the looming specters of Infinity War and Endgame. As we learned from Black Widow and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it’s impossible to follow that kind of enormous franchise climax. In fact, you need a gimmick like bringing back all the Spider-Men to make it seem possible when in reality, even that wasn’t enough. No matter what you do with the films that follow, it will always feel like characters are missing and the story-line doesn’t matter (even when you’ve got Christian Bale chewing up scenery as your bad guy).
The other major issue with Thor: Love and Thunder appears to be its director, Taika Waititi. While he gave Thor a fresh, comedic vibe and badass soundtrack in Ragnorak, Waititi seems scattered here. The tone bounces awkwardly from silly to dark and important character arcs are dumbed down (Why did he turn Thor and Jane’s whole relationship into a montage?). It also feels like important transitional moments are edited out to make room for schlocky jokes and artistic flourishes. It’s understandable that Waititi would have trouble focusing, given the dearth of work he’s currently involved with. Is it worth diluting the finished product though, especially when expectations are this high?
There is still plenty to love about this film and Chris Hemsworth never disappoints in the role. Thor: Love and Thunder would probably be deemed a success for any other studio. Coming from Marvel though, it simply doesn’t stick the landing. In fact, the best way to enjoy this one is to pretend it’s a DC release. (C+)