Thor: Love & Thunder
11th July 2022
Words: Shane Ramdhany
Taika Waititi’s latest comedic Marvel film unsurprisingly excels at delivering tongue-in-cheek moments as well as characters that are simultaneously humorous and endearing. It serves as an entertaining meditation on romance with an infusion of Taika’s formula for hilarity. Both of these elements yield their desired outcomes as they achieve a precise equilibrium with a touching portrait of a true “power couple” interwoven with humor delivered in calculating fashion. However, this comes at the expense at what is otherwise a formulaic Marvel narrative whose predictability generates a climax that provides little catharsis.
In Thor’s latest outing, we see him recover from the husky, disheveled figure in Endgame back to a pristine muscular God complete with shimmery new armor that further accentuates these qualities. The story inevitably brings the God of Thunder back to his former love, Jane Foster, who embraces her role as Lady Thor. However, she is not devoid of her own challenges, that of which tests her relationship with Thor and effectively enhances the narrative depth of their romance. It is in this aspect that Waititi achieves success with storytelling that depicts love’s endurance within the context of external challenge. It is because of these moments that we cannot ignore the additional narrative aspects whose imperfections are glaring in comparison.
The remainder of the film buckles under the pressure of its success with portraying its leads emotional odyssey, which becomes all too evident as the film reaches its climax. Thor’s primary adversary, Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), is introduced with a promising backstory that sadly yields little more than a lukewarm and familiar tragic villain. However, Bale’s performance as the God Butcher is nothing short of superlative. He masterfully embraces his role as a sinister yet broken man seeking retribution for his betrayal by the Gods. It is just a shame that this talent is pigeon-holed into a predictable evolution of his character by the end of the film. This idea also lends itself to the lack of catharsis and challenge that Thor faces in his encounters with Gorr. Given the narrow victory that Thor and his fellow avengers achieved when battling Thanos, it comes as no surprise that consistently producing a formidable foe becomes increasingly less sustainable. Therefore, this ordeal is not likely to be exclusive to Waititi and may very well plague future Marvel films. As a result, the fallacies of Gorr may very well be driven by forces beyond the film’s control.
There remains ample substance for entertainment throughout Thor’s epic tale, with no shortage of hilarious moments (particularly with two loud goats that never seem to overstay their welcome) as well as a soundtrack that is almost exclusively Guns N’ Roses. While one could hypothesize that these aspects could wear by the end of the film, they are effectively able to sustain their thrill. As long as you are able to look beyond the narrative’s more familiar tropes, you are likely to be treated to what is otherwise a successful romantic comedy through the lens of Marvel.