Thor: Love and Thunder review
Jess Cadogan exposes the rampant tonal inconsistencies of Marvel’s summer blockbuster Thor: Love and Thunder
Like many Marvel fans around the globe – casual or obsessed – I was very enthusiastic about the arrival of another Thor film. After the momentous success of Thor: Ragnarok and the introduction of director Taika Waititi to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, expectations were very high: in this installation we would see a vengeful man capable of killing gods, the return of Dr Jane Foster to the franchise, and King Valkyrie in all her glory – so why did Love and Thunder fail to deliver?
One of the main problems was the inconsistent tone throughout, especially felt at the beginning of the film. The story begins by introducing us to the main antagonist and shows us his heart-breaking backstory concerning his daughter and how he became ‘Gorr the God Butcher’. The following scene, however, is a light-hearted montage of Thor growing up, narrated by the token comedic relief character Korg. It is hard in this moment not to feel as though Christian Bale signed up for a completely different film – his stellar performance of a broken and resentful man contrasts so greatly with the cheesy, yet heart-warming, montage that it becomes difficult to fully process or enjoy either. In another example of tonal whiplash, the following scene reveals to the audience that Jane Foster has stage 4 cancer.
It is hard in this moment not to feel as though Christian Bale signed up for a completely different film
This scene itself was brilliantly and sensitively written, showcasing the sense of frustration and helplessness from both Jane and those around her. Short cameos from fan favourites Darcy Lewis and Eric Selvig are a pleasant surprise and succeed in making the scene engaging especially with long-time fans. Some viewers however have brought up issues with this particular scene because of its potentially triggering nature and Marvel’s failure to provide a warning, but some find it poignant in the way it openly displays some of the realities a person with cancer – and those around them – might face.
Soon enough however, this scene is brutally interrupted by the soundtrack as Guns N Roses introduces us to New Asgard and gives viewers a first look at King Valkyrie. I’m going to get straight to the point: Tessa Thompson was done a disservice. As one of the most beloved characters since her very recent introduction in 2017, its fair to say that the writers made a huge mistake in not using her as a more integral part of the film. For a character with so much screen time she does relatively little – she follows Jane and Thor around with her motivations never being made entirely clear. In a later battle with Gorr she is stabbed but somehow this injury holds almost no emotional weight, the only consequence being that she decides to pass on the final battle, clearly because the writers didn’t want her stealing the thunder (pardon the pun) of the two leads.
Thor: Love and Thunder fails to deliver because of a lack of conviction to the harder hitting scenes, messy editing, and cheap – often re-used – jokes
Thor: Love and Thunder fails to deliver because of a lack of conviction to the harder hitting scenes, messy editing, and cheap – often re-used – jokes. The heart-warming coda of Thor adopting Gorr’s daughter and the beginnings of a domestic life for the pair may leave the viewer with distinctly less flat feeling than the rest of the film, but it is still difficult to ignore the many issues created by attempting to balance the tone of a film with such heavy subjects alongside giant screaming goats.