It’s been quite the ride for Marvel’s God of Thunder since he first strode into the MCU. From battling his brother Loki to getting his head crunched by the purple-headed destroyer Thanos to becoming a hermit and growing one almighty “dad bod”, Thor’s gone from Shakespearean tragedy to comedy, partly thanks to Taika Waititi. The Kiwi director reinvented him in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, slicing in the sort of quirky humour that’s characterised his best films, like Hunt For The Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows.
This dream team are reunited for Thor: Love and Thunder, a film that if not quite as fresh as Ragnarok, still bounces to the Waititi beat. It also rocks with a roster of Guns N’ Roses tunes, beginning with the best use of ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ since the advert for video game masterpiece Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Clearly, Waititi has been playing ‘Appetite for Destruction’ on repeat, with ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ also popping up, bringing the thunder if not the love. Axl Rose even gets a nifty little name-check.
After a brief sweetener that sees Thor battling alongside the Guardians Of The Galaxy team, the story proper kicks in with the arrival of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), a vengeful being who really has it in for the immortals. To combat him, Thor teams up with Ragnarok alumni Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg, the film’s wry CG-stone creature/narrator voiced by Waititi. But the real reunion is with Thor’s former flame, Dr Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Despite ailing health, when she ventures to New Asgard, the touristy tribute to Thor’s home world, and touches his broken hammer Mjölnir (not a euphemism), she’s suddenly channelling his powers.
Soon enough, Jane aka ‘The Mighty Thor’ is battling Gorr alongside her ex in the meet-cute to end them all. Hemsworth and Portman’s chemistry could charm the birds from the New Asgardian trees, as Thor comes to figure out what love’s got to do with it. But there’s more, with a sojourn to Omnipotence City, where the team implores the thunder-blasting Zeus (Russell Crowe) to help them battle Gorr. Crowe’s gut-wobbling god is a comic delight, one of the best characters the Gladiator star has played in many a moon as he swans around his cosmic citadel surrounded by a bevy of female admirers.
Fans of Hemsworth will certainly enjoy ‘Naked Thor’, an amusing consequence of his attempts to ask Zeus for help. He even sports an “RIP Loki” tattoo on his back, just one of many delicious blink-and-you’ll-miss-them details that battle for space alongside more Waititi-esque moments (a talking bao bun anyone?) Meanwhile, Bale’s terrifying Gorr comes on like an intergalactic version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Child Catcher, kidnapping some Asgardian kids to lure Thor into battle.
Credit Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who ensure Love and Thunder builds to something more profound than simply another hero/villain showdown. Parenthood, relationships, responsibility, and mortality all come into play as Thor, well, grows up. Best of all, like Ragnarok before it, it’s tremendously entertaining. Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
- Director: Taika Waititi
- Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman
- Release date: July 7 (only in cinemas)