Found Unworthy. Thor 4: a history and review
Watching Thor: Love and Thunder is like guzzling down a raw hamburger and strawberry smoothie that hasn’t been thoroughly puréed yet, but much less satisfying. How could the newest and most anticipated entry in phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe go so sideways? In 2017, director Taika Waititi pleasantly shocked audiences when he delivered what many consider to be the best Thor film in Ragnarök. Five years later, Waititi woefully returns with a disjointed and obviously air-brushed woke successor of a bore-fest basking in saltine glory. With Thor 4, dumb blonde lighting fails to strike twice in what looks to be a dark portent for the future of MCU.
Ragnarök, Phase 4 and the M-She-U:
Is the MCU played out? That question won’t leave me alone after watching Thor: Love and Thunder, the disappointing 29th entry of the MCU. This undercooked pork cutlet of a film stars Chris Hemsworth as the titular hero, as he attempts to rescue some kidnapped children from the evil Gore the God-Butcher, with help from his ex-girlfriend Natalie Portman who now is also a Thor. Oh, and she has cancer. Plus there’s Russel Crowe as Zeus, a deadnamed magical trans kid, some gay rocks, and a couple of screaming goats. All handled less subtlety than an episode of Captain Planet.
Ultimately, Thor: Love and Thunder, a sequel to the best-balanced and most metal entry in the MCU, Thor: Ragnarök, is an utter disappointment. That isn’t just me saying it, critics across the land, including the ones that usually reward woke flicks are panning this one.
Ragnarök directed by the then relatively unknown New Zealand indie director Taika Waititi, of What We Do In The Shadows fame, changed the MCU and Thor for the better, earning rave critical reviews and almost $900 million at the box office. Thor went from being a joke into a beloved hero that told them, whispered by fans in the same breath as Downey Jr’s Iron Man or Chris Evans’ Captain America. So, it made sense when MCU Mafia Boss Kevin Feige let Waititi direct the next Thor entry, which he announced in 2019 as Thor: Love and Thunder.
However, fans couldn’t help but notice the cracks starting to form. The film had been announced as an adaptation of the controversial Mighty Thor comics, where Thor is a toxic white male that gets replaced by righteous white lady Jane Foster. Disney did nothing to quell such fears. It didn’t help when Waititi announced the project; he knelt in front of Portman to give her a prop, Mjolnir like an unworthy peasant before a queen.
Then the synopsis for the show came out, and quickly the rumors started piling up. The gist being that the focus of the post-Endgame MCU would be about diversity and replacing the traditional heroes like Hawkeye with younger, more equitable versions, which, if you’ve paid attention, is what’s happened. In Love and Thunder, Thor would be replaced by Portman. The story would involve helping the new female King of Asgard find her Queen -which didn’t make it to the final cut- and much virtue signaling would be had. When a Twitter user complained about Thor’s mythos being ruined, Waititi mocked him: “I’ll ruin your mythos in a minute, baby.” Followed by tsking fans that wrote “female Thor” instead of “Mighty Thor.”
My Mighty (squeaky) Hammer:
For the over-confident Disney, going woke made sense when the MCU was a money-printing machine. However, then Covid happened, and Governor DeSantis beat Disney at a game of chicken. Disney’s stock dropped, the Eternals bombed, and suddenly the success of a marvel movie was no longer guaranteed. So, according to my theory, Disney took what was likely to be a controversial and divisive film; and tried to make it as bland and appealing to a general global audience as possible. If you know this backstory and have seen the movie, you understand what I mean. Love and Thunder is on paper the wokest entry in the MCU, with every possible social justice element but toned down from an 11 to a 3. It’s all there, but unless you pay attention you will miss some it.
That’s a massive flaw when the key core dynamic of the project is an “in-your-face-slay-qween,” and instead, your film features a demur Lady Thor that cannot deliver a joke to save her life; a factor that’s pretty important for your “comedy.” As for our male lead, Thor, our hero, has been emasculated, with nothing in the movie to replace that energy except some children and poorly placed CGI monsters. Most of the cast, like Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie acting, is so poor it’s the definition of “phoning it in,” as if even the cast is tired of the MCU. The only character memorable whatsoever is the villain played by an intense Christian Bale.
Wokeness, as much as I hate it, is still a flavor; and what we get here tastes like a paper plate. The rest of the script doesn’t leave enough to make an interesting movie. There is also a significant problem with balance, the innovation brought by Waititi was how to balance the algorithmic cornball jokes a minute we are used to in the MCU with believable and powerful drama. Instead, with Love and Thunder, the funny and dramatic bits conflict with one another like an unmixed holiday fruit cake.
What hurts the most about this film is that all the pieces for a grand MCU entry are here. Watch the trailer.
It showcases what this movie should have been. For comedy, you have Waititi, who is now more lazy than cleverly deadpan. For the action bits, there’s a God killer, the gosh-darn Guardians of the Galaxy, pantheons of gods, and giant ink monsters. Furthermore, you want pathos. What’s potentially more dramatic than watching a superhero die of cancer and another in mourning re-learn to connect. Why even have Thor even leave the Guardians at all? Whatever the reason, the potential here is so squandered that it’s enough to make me want to give up on the MCU entirely.
So, is the MCU played out? Maybe. Thor: Love and Thunder is what happens when a soulless corporation and a talented director become arrogant as they get high on their own supply. If Disney and its talent can humble themselves and learn that film success is never guaranteed, as they seem to for Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, then the MCU may return to quality form in the next few years. However, suppose the Mouse stays prideful and sanitizes their product, using wokeness as a crutch and not producing worthwhile quality art. In that case, we are likely seeing the dying embers of the greatest film franchise in history by the sound of screaming goats.