Director Taika Waititi adopts a more fun-filled approach to extend the Thor franchise. Chris Hemsworth regales in this happy-go-lucky Thor avatar. A welcome return for Natalie Portman, while Christian Bale looks menacing as Gorr.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
By Mayur Lookhar
Considering it is monsoon, and its traditionally mushy audiences, it’s only apt that Thor: Love and Thunder , a marquee Marvel film releases in India a day before the United States of America. India is also a habitable region on earth that perhaps has more gods than the divine beings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Multi cultural societies come with many gods.
Most mere mortals of earth are Godfearing souls. If any mortal slanders their god(s), then the same mortals can slay in the name of the lord. Ah, blasphemy. We’ve had enough of it. But if a god slanders a devout, it would shatter his/her faith. All his life, he worshipped Lord Rapu, but when the arrogant deity insulted and shunned him, Gorr [Christian Bale] loses his faith. The devout now turns into a God-slayer who won’t rest till he wipes out every deity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s only one god who can stop the godslayer i.e. Thor – The God of Thunder.
With his planet Asgard destroyed, Thor has joined forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy answering SOS calls from various planets around. Peter Quill aka Starlord [Chris Pratt] and co. go their separate ways leaving Thor [Chris Hemsworth] to fight his own battles. Hey, he is a God and Thor likes it solo. But battling out the God Butcher (Gorr) requires some team effort. This journey sees an unexpected reunion with his old flame. Jane Foster [Natalie Portman].
Taika Waititi, who also helmed Thor: Ragnarok , carries forward the Thor legacy into the post Avengers: Endgame  era. He also lends his voice again for the Kronan Korg. The post Endgame era has seen Marvel finetune its story telling, style to create new experiences for the audience but also its marquee characters. If not mock, there appears to be a genuine attempt at making light of the past. Maybe it’s fine for a Peter Parker /Spider-Man [Tom Holland] to empathise with the villains from other Spidey multiverse in No Way Home . After all, Peter Parker is human. However does this self-deprecation befit the God of Thunder?
Credit to Chris Hemsworth who doesn’t mind letting Thor get off his pedestal and lighten up. He’s happy to watch fellow rehabilitated Asgardians make a mockery of Thor, Loki, Odin in plays. Matt Damon mocking Loki is a sight to behold. Though not cocky, but Thor doesn’t mind some cheeky wordplay with the captive kids, held hostage by Gorr. Having lost his Mjölnir [hammer], Thor now wields the Stormbreaker – do you remember the lightning speed axe that was built by Eitri [Peter Dinklage] in Infinity War  after Mjölnir was destroyed in Ragnarok ? Good news, his beloved Mjölnir returns in Love and Thunder  but it is now wielded by his old flame. Thor’s natural affection for Mjölnir creates tension with Stormbreaker. Oh, how wonderfully Waititi turns Mjölnir and Stormbreaker into characters themselves.
Thor’s not trying to be funny, but there is definitely a sense of humour to him that wasn’t seen before. In the process, it humanises this God. Odin and Thor’s ancestors may not be amused, but Thor’s antics go a long in way in contemporizing such iconic Marvel characters. There’s much more to Thor than the usual machoism. This works to Chris Hemsworth’s advantage who regales in this happy-go-lucky Thor avatar.
While most of this story plays out in other planets, but this humanising of God also robs Thor of its usual divine, celestial atmosphere. Cocky Gods also become object of ridicule. A Russell Crowe portraying a portly, cocky [Olympian God] Zeus will not appease the Greek worshippers, and nor rival DC Universe. Marvel’s never shy to take pot shots. Korg’s closing scene of shaking hands [mating in Kronan style] with a fellow ‘rocky’ fuzzy Kronan male named Dwayne is a classic case of queering someone’s pitch. It also subtly backs queer love with Marvel opening up about its first LGBTQ super hero Valkyrie [Tessa Thompson].
We saw her briefly in Avengers: Endgame , but as Thor says it’s been eight years, seven months and six days – since Natalie Portman played a pivotal role in Thor: Dark World . As hard as they try to keep it professional, it’s difficult to forget your first love. Thor: Love and Thunder  has its odd mushy moment but there are more pressing issues for the former couple to sort out. Wielding Mjölnir requires great strength, and Portman looks to have put one some muscle. She makes a welcome return to the franchise.
A first look at Love and Thunder trailer lulled us into believing that there’s a Voldemort [main antagonist in Harry Potter franchise] in Thor. A careful look revealed Gorr to be Christian Bale. Ah, what’s happened to Christopher Nolan’s Batman? The demon eyes, white face, white robe also partly rekindled memories of the Nun from the Conjuring franchise. Bale doesn’t have Thor’s physique, but he sure looks gory as Gorr. Despite the demonic look, Gorr never quite causes the destruction that The God Butcher is feared for. The Dark Knight  actor though does a commendable job.
The heavy humour is perhaps ill-timed in certain intense scenes, especially the one where Thor converses with the captive kids. For a film about Thor, Love and Thunder gave the impression of trying to be like Guardians of the Galaxy. The closing ‘love’ line to diffuse the tension is too much of a cliché for the desi audience.
Like any Marvel film, Love and Thunder, too, stands out for its visual appeal, special effects, and its production design. The golden world of Omnipotence – headed by Zeus, is a sight to behold. Watch out for the two ear-drum busting noisy giant goats. Also, popular retro songs from earth are a hit with the many beings from the Marvel Universe. Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child of Mine track syncs perfectly with Love and Thunder. Why so? Better discover yourself. What we can reveal is that Heimdall’s [Idris Elba] son likes himself to be called AXL. Oh, for all their powers, the super heroes, Gods, are heavily influenced by earthly creations. The children are here not just to fill the numbers. Along with Thor, they, too, raise the thunder at the business end.
Amidst all the fun, chaos, action, Love and Thunder  does question blind faith. Will mere worshipping save a mortal from his/her misery? Gods galore in Love and Thunder, but most of them are shown as cocky beings sitting on a high pedestal. It always takes a demon to set the cat among the pigeons. As the divine beings run helter-skelter, their only hope is the humble God of Thunder. God save the world. Nah, Thor save the Gods.
Watch the trailer below.