After much anticipation, I went to see Thor: Love and Thunder on opening day in 3D. Once I heard Guns N’ Roses play during the two-minute trailer, the expectations for Thor: Love and Thunder were high. At this point, it was clear that the movie would be less action and more about the journey. Plus, you cant use ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ if the movie is going to be terrible. Long story short – I definitely want to see it again, but from a different point of view.
Not your Average Avengers Movie
The last three Thor movies were easier to follow if you had some context set up from the previous chapters, but Thor: Love and Thunder seems to be an easier one to jump into without watching any of the other Marvel movies. While the Avengers movies have a few comedic one-liners here and there this one is noticeably different, perhaps as an intentional part of his character development as the movie starts with Thor going from out of shape hot mess (obviously in a fat suit) to the god of Thunder who is worthy of carrying the name. The most obvious giveaway that this Marvel movie was different is the title: Thor: LOVE and Thunder.
The story was a bit rushed, cramming in all the pieces rather haphazardly but left plenty of room for laughs. Natalie Portman described the director Taika Waititi’s interesting approach on how they utilized the script, basically changing a ton of things in the script last minute all throughout filming. Thor: Love and Thunder is simple enough to stand on its own which is great for the box office for regular moviegoers. Kids might find the bad guy’s appearance and the kidnapping part a bit unsettling since they are taken from their homes at bedtime, but overall it seems to be a milder than Avengers action movie and heavier on the silly. Also, keep an eye out for cameos from Matt Damon and Melissa McCarthy.
As of July, Thor: Love and Thunder had the third biggest opening weekend of 2022 right behind Jurassic Park: Dominion and Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with domestic sales of $143 Million. Globally, the movie brought in a little over $300 Million, which means they have surpassed the $250 Million that it took to actually make the movie. Adding in another $100 Million to promote it, the movie will certainly surpass that $300 Million mark. Its insane how much money and how little time it takes to make the movie only for all of it to be recouped in ticket sales in opening weekend. With Marvel and Disney stamped on the project and their deep pockets to make the movie, their gigantic spend is worth the money and brand equity.
Family on Set
Behind the scenes, Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and the director Taika Waititi brought their children into the mix and made them official cast members. Hemsworth’s 10 -year-old daughter India gets her own spotlight as Love (the name of the girl who is the catalyst that sets the movie on its track forward), with her death being the breaking point that turned her father into the bad guy, Gorr the God Butcher. She also plays Thor’s daughter (I’m going to leave this one alone as it will make sense when you see the movie).
The Plot – Really Quick Version
I’m leaving out a ton of stuff but this should help with the storyline.
After a quick cameo of the Guardians of the Galaxy crew (including Chris Pratt) getting ready to take off on their ship, Thor to begin his journey of finding his purpose in life. Once the montage of Thor working out and getting back in shape gets rolling, a narrator creates a baseline for the audience bringing everyone up to speed on what they need to know. Jane was given a minute of backstory but seemed to be just enough to illustrate her evolution from scientist to superhero.
The origin story of Gorr the God Butcher (played by Christian Bale) is packed into the first 10 minutes of the film in a very predictable but satisfying way establishing the most important plot points to keep in mind. Gorr’s daughter died because of the God he worshiped. His God didn’t care. A sword called Necrosword appeared from the ground and Gorr used it to kill his God. It was at this point that Gorr became the God Butcher on a mission to kill all the Gods in existence to avenge his daughter’s death, inevitably going after Thor. Instead of fighting on Thor’s “turf” he scoops up all the children from the village and takes them to his home turf to lure Thor into battle. Jane (Thor’s ex girlfriend introduced in the first Thor) has cancer and sought out Thor’s hammer hoping that it can help cure her. She soon reunites with Thor who was not at all expecting to see her, this time with Thor super powers. Her cancer and newly acquired Thor powers are working against each other, so she is struggling to choose between keeping her own strength or using the power to fight off bad guys. The two set off on a journey to find the children while tackling side battles and trying to navigate their complicated relationship. The final fight sends the children back home, leaving Thor and Jane to destroy the Necrosword that the God Butcher yields.
God of Thunder to Lovestruck Hero
In contrast to a vast majority of superhero movies, the last interactions between Thor and the God Butcher was the validation of the entire movie. Thor finds himself through loving Jane, and as he held her in his arms weak and dying, he and the God Butcher – now void of the influence of the sword – find common ground with the notion of love being a stronger force than anger or revenge. With the Necrosword destroyed, Gorr returned to a more rational state of mind, using his last wish to bring his daughter back to life – but only if Thor agrees to take care of her. If I could pinpoint why I feel a connection to this storyline its likely because of the involvement of children who are the same age as my own. That may be where my bias might come from, but I also feel that any movie with kidnapping or harm to children is difficult for me to watch these days with all of the school shootings going on. Either way the inclusion of children in this movie was a sweet reminder of how precious they are and how much they look up to adults around them and how their innocence should be preserved as long as possible before the reality of the world becomes a part of them.
As for Guns N’ Roses and the universally recognizable (maybe more known by elder millennials and older) song “Sweet Child of Mine”, it ends up being more than just a reason to make the movie look cool. When the song plays at the end with Thor raising the little girl, the movie came full circle and facilitated a warmhearted ending. He found love in the sweet child of his. The movie title comes full circle as well – Thor: Love (his daughter) and Thunder (God of Thunder).
Check out the Spotify playlist that I put together.
Why I’m Excited to See it Again
The next time I watch Thor: Love and Thunder, I’m going into the movie with expectations of a superhero movie that has as much action as there are laughs. Compared to the rest of the Avengers and what they fight when they are on their own, Thor seems to either be downplaying the danger he is facing or is just really good at his job. Thor on his day off from fighting the big fights for humanity with the Avengers and instead helping smaller subsets of people who definitely need saving, but don’t need the whole gang to back him up. Take this movie at face value. It will be way more fun this way.
As part of the MCU as it stands today, Thor: Love and Thunder doesn’t really fit the tone of the other movies in the franchise nor the other solo Avengers movies. It could be lifted out of the MCU and the rest of the movies and character development would be unfazed. But this one does what others have not yet or may ever do by digging into the emotional toll that comes with the territory and following the journey as he works through it. Heroes might have super powers, but they still experience life, love and loss like the rest of us.