Thor: Love and Thunder has seen the shortest and smallest promotional campaigns of any movie in the MCU featuring an original Avenger (except for that ill-fated Black Widow movie, of course). It’s an odd move by Marvel Studios, which has always considered Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to be its holy trinity of blockbuster success. Many had taken this as a sign of the studio’s lack of confidence in the film and wondered if it was bad. But the movie isn’t bad at all. But it’s not great either. Taika Waititi’s latest Thor adventure is a quintessential MCU film that entertains and even partially dazzles, but barely rises above “just good.” Also read: Natalie Portman Accidentally Shares ‘Big Spoiler’ About Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor: Love and Thunder picks up where we last saw Chris Hemsworth’s Thor – at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Since then, he has been on adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy. But the stakes are raised when he learns of a new threat: Gorr the God Butcher. As the name suggests, he is determined to eliminate all gods from the universe, which isn’t exactly good news for the God of Thunder. So he enlists the help of his trusted friend Korg (Taika herself), the current King of Asgard Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and his ex-girlfriend Dr Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who now has the powers of Thor himself.

Thor: Ragnarok had breathed new life into what became a dull, overly powerful superhero by making him vulnerable and even fun. And Taika deserves all the credit for that. In Love and Thunder, Taika has another unique challenge. For the first time in his MCU stint, Thor is without his brother Loki. The chemistry of the brothers and Tom Hiddleston‘s charm were the highlights of most Thor movies. But Love and Thunder does it well without falling back on it. Love and Thunder’s biggest win is that you don’t miss Loki.

The good thing about the film is that not too much time is wasted on expositions and background stories. The background to everything – from why Gorr hates gods to how Jane can wield Mjolnir – is explained sharply but completely. Not only does this keep the run time short, but it also gives the characters more time to grow and interact. And the interactions and dialogue between two characters are the highlight of any Taika movie. As with Ragnarok, the best scenes of Love and Thunder have only two characters speaking. And while the dialogue between Thor and Jane or Thor and Korg is indeed enjoyable, the most sparkly chemistry is between Valkyrie and Jane. Every scene with these two is delightful and it’s a shame that Natalie and Tessa have limited scenes here.

Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder.

Chris Hemsworth is now effortless as Thor. He personifies the role in a way that Robert Downey Jr owned Iron Man. He is Thor, every version, every facet of him. But the scene stealer is Christian Bale’s Gorr, MCU’s answer to Voldemort. Marvel really needs to stop making villains that are recognizable and make sense. After Thanos, Killmonger and Zemo, Gorr also makes it very difficult for the viewer to advocate for the hero. The writing helps, but Christian beautifully brings out the character’s pain and hatred. He’s really terrifying, not in a Scarlet Witch way. Natalie Portman returns smoothly to the MCU. Her Mighty Thor is a brilliant cocktail of power, confusion, fear and confidence, and it took an actor of her caliber to control all those emotions and not go overboard.

Where Love and Thunder fails is that it is a mediocre film. The stakes are never really high. After the highlights of Endgame and Multiverse of Madness, Love and Thunder look small in comparison. Only the stature of his stars saves him. Another drawback of the film is the predictable plot. There doesn’t have to be any twists and turns, but the lack of originality limits it to just a good movie, not a great one. However, the action scenes and soundtrack are saviors.

There was murmuring that this was Chris Hemsowrththe last Marvel movie. The actor himself hinted that. Judging by the movie, that could be both likely and unlikely. If this is indeed his last film, it’s a tame ending for a character who held so much promise. If not, Marvel really needs to tackle its Thor problem.

To me Thor was a character who Marvel Cinematic Universe† Iron Man and Captain America closed their arcs beautifully, as did Black Widow. Hawkeye is soon heading towards the end of his road with his Disney+ series and it looks like Hulk will also get his conclusion on the upcoming show She-Hulk. But there seems to be no end in sight for Thor. Movie after movie the character suffers, loses people and breaks his heart. Just when he sees light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out that it is actually a freight train that brutally drives over him. Thor deserves better!

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