Please do something is my plea to the MCU which, since resolving literally 99.9% of all it’s loose ends in Avengers Endgame, has been stumbling around trying to invent completely random reasons for us to keep invested with the timeline despite it being clear there is, as of yet, no overarching goal for the rest of it. Thor Love and Thunder is a testament to that. In fact it’s so much a testament to that, that I think I’d have liked this film so much more if it was just a whacky/badass Thor adventure instead of part of the MCU.
But lets reel it in for a moment. The story is that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has no reason to live other than to fight baddies and he must now fight his biggest baddie yet, Gorr (Christian Bale) who is a fellow who goes around murdering Gods after his own Gods abandoned him and laughed at the death of his daughter, whose prayers went unanswered. Along the way Thor finds another reason to live in his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who unfortunately is battling stage four cancer and has been using the power of Thor, wielding the hammer Mjolnir, to temporarily keep herself alive.
And it’s a great plot. Thor hunting a killer only to find he’s the one being hunted, because he himself is a God too, is neat- Oh, nevermind. I was talking about the comic upon which this story is based. The actual plot of the movie adaptation is a great blockbuster on paper but not in execution. Gorr the God Butcher kills one God on screen, which is the same amount of Gods that Thor kills on screen so they’re basically as bad as each other. Especially considering how many other God-level people Thor has also murdered in his run during the MCU, even if they were evil ones. It’s also weird how Gorr is presented as very sympathetic both at the start and end of the film, but he is treated as a moustache-twirling asshole throughout the entire middle section.
The tone of this movie is kind of all over the place. When Gorr is on screen it’s super serious and spooky, and when he’s not it feels more like Guardians of the Galaxy (who also happen to show up here) than it does Thor. And the two tones don’t go together well, especially as it also wants to be kind of tragic too when it comes to Jane’s story. Not helping this even, even more is the fact that every character’s motivation is literally explained to us as though we are babies – we literally get told word for word that Thor has no reason to live in the first ten minutes, literally get told Jane Foster felt as though she didn’t at the end of her arc (just in case no one picked up on it before she died), literally get told by Thor that Gorr doesn’t have to wish for the Mcguffin to kill all Gods as revenge for his daughter’s death when he could literally just wish his daughter back to life. It’s so condescending and has absolutely no faith that its audience will pick up on what it’s going for, that every moment needs to be spelt out so that you absorb the exact message in the exact way that the film wants you to. And you know what, I would welcome all that help… If the writing wasn’t as shallow as a puddle.
I was very much let down by this because I am a big fan of the comic this is based upon with Gorr and Thor duking it out across history. It’s not that I wanted an exact remake of the comic – I think Infinity War is a great movie despite it being a massively different take on the comic that inspired it – I just wanted it to be in the same spirit as that comic (as Infinity War was of it’s source material), which is not what happened. We got a movie that wants everything to be a joke except when the director decides it’s not time for jokes anymore instead.
If this wasn’t connected to the MCU and was just some lone blockbuster – even if it was still as shallow as a puddle – about Thor trying to find a murderer with a magic sword, I’d have been into it. But you can’t go five seconds without being reminded the Guardians of the Galaxy are also in this universe, without references to Thanos, without references to the previous Thor film and without mention of all the things that happened over 10 years ago in the 2011 Thor film. And then the end of the film teases you with some random guy in a really bad costume claiming to be Hercules and that he’s going to go and kill Thor. Like no he isn’t, he’ll punch Thor a bit and then he’ll either die or become his best friend. That’s what the MCU is now. Post Endgame it’s set up without payoff. And it’s not even good set-up. It’s make it up as we go along set up.
I’ve said before I thought it should have ended with Endgame and, in my head, it has. But realistically it can’t because Marvel and Disney are making big bucks and want even more big bucks. They clearly have no idea where these new movies are headed yet, so I don’t see why they don’t just allow them to stand on their own for a while until they do get a plan. I mean, the first few Marvel films were basically Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk just doing completely unrelated things in completely tonally different films until the studio was sure of where the eventual team-up was going. Why not do that again? Why all this Doctor Strange walking through a portal with a purple lady and The Eternals get kidnapped, but Thanos’ cousin is going to save them crap.
Urgh. It’s getting so hard to enjoy these movies…
But look, this film isn’t all bad. It looks pretty. There’s lots of colours and some stylistic choices made in the action (at least at the end) to make visuals you won’t have seen before from Marvel, all of which are fun. The soundtrack pumps you up, all the performances are top notch and- Okay the CGI is lame. 90% of this film is characters walking through giant environments, but they only interact with three-feet of the environment because the rest is so transparently a greenscreen. It reminds me of the Star Wars prequels where folks just walk in stilted straight lines despite the rooms they’re in seemingly going on forever. That’s the level of poor CGI we’re getting in a movie that cost this much to make, so far on since those Star Wars prequels happened? Yikes.
Recently Twitter kind of blew up when a Reddit thread got shared around of VFX artists complaining about overworked and underpaid they were by Marvel studios. This, coupled with Marvel not only producing three films a year, but also entire TV shows for Disney+, and we’ve got CGI in these movies that look worse than Iron Man did in 2008. But Disney and Marvel don’t care about that. They don’t care about quality filmmaking anymore. Their directors might, but they have to keep to a tight schedule to maximise income from all their products. This is evidenced in a video where the director criticises the CGI in the film – his own film – with a cast member that got shared around.
So yeah… Marvel please do something to justify all this or, please just stop.
Phew, went off a bit there, but I do believe it’s all relevant to understanding the greater context of this movie. Would I recommend Thor Love and Thunder? Nah. Pass. Don’t think about it. It’s barely a movie, just a product.