Even the biggest anti-Marvel champions can admit the success of the superhero genre in the 21st century is an unparalleled piece in film we haven’t experienced before. Now it being 14 years since Iron Man and 30-plus MCU movies and counting, Marvel Studios must do something correctly, right?
Indeed, there have been a few great Marvel films over the years, with 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok being universally agreed as one of the best. It’s been five years since Ragnarok, and 2022’s Love and Thunder features the same Director at the helm in Taika Waititi. Surely, another success story for Marvel.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. I can’t remember leaving a theater as disillusioned and saddened (not because the film was sad) as I was, and that’s with a low expectation going into it. It’s a gross representation of a massive entity releasing a film strictly as a cash grab to set up a sequel.
❝This one falls incredibly short of expectations, even if you don’t expect much.❞
The film is riddled with trite and humorless jokes, lazy performances (outside of Christian Bale), and an empty plot that doesn’t even take the smallest of risks. There are exceptionally few redeeming qualities, and though some hardcore Marvel fanatics will be able to turn a blind eye, it left a sour taste in my mouth. This one falls incredibly short of expectations, even if you don’t expect much.
Joke vs. Tension
Thor: Love and Thunder’s most prominent issue comes down to its script. Anyone familiar with Marvel films understands they combine a superhero story with action and comedic elements. Love and Thunder dials up that comedic measure to 11, making me wonder if it was initially a script for a Friends TV movie that’s larping as a superhero film.
Now, this isn’t a notion that comedy doesn’t belong in an MCU film (after all, Ragnarok was filled with comedy). What Love and Thunder gets wrong is its inability to separate comedic moments from tension. Any serious scene has a hokey joke to go along with it, drawing similarities to early 2000s parody films such as the Scary movie franchise.
Gorr the God Butcher (Off-Screen At Least)
The few moments that aren’t reminiscent of a horrific Family Guy episode center around Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), but Bale’s screentime is nowhere near what it should be. We’re introduced to Gorr in a ridiculously fast fashion, only to be spoonfed, “Gorr kill Gods because Gods kill Gorr’s Daughter.”
Besides the introduction, Gorr’s killing of the Gods is shown offscreen. It’s a matter of Thor finding out that Gorr has been killing Gods instead of us seeing Gorr’s wrath. We’re told to fear Gorr, but how can we tell if they barely show his power?
Lazy Acting, Bad Special Effects, and a Bad Film
Outside of Bale’s performance, practically every other character in Love and Thunders feels like a half-effort from the great actors that portray them. Even Chris Hemsworth, who is a perfect actor for Thor, doesn’t have any memorable moments (stop trying to force the “he loves his hammer” joke down our throats).
Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson are fine, but it’s nothing memorable. These characters feel like caricatures of themselves who are there to throw mindless lines at Thor, only for it to progress to its finish state. Lazy acting paired with genuinely awful special effects (I imagine Marvel gave its SFX department a tight deadline), a story with no purpose, and hackneyed dialogue make for a bad film. It’s a shame, considering how great this film could’ve been.
Though its box office numbers will say otherwise, Thor: Love and Thunder represents how a film can still be rotten even with a great director and a massive budget behind it. These stories deserve better, but I’m unsure if Marvel cares since they’ll continue to make billions. One can only hope.