Friday, July 29, 2022

The Problem with Love and Thunder


When I went to see Thor: Love and Thunder, I didn't really know what to expect. We’ve known for three years that Jane Foster would return wielding Mjolnir. Other than that, I mostly went in blind (even with seeing the trailers beforehand). Like many movies and shows nowadays, Love and Thunder came under criticism right from the start (always gotta complain about something). But overall I actually enjoyed it. Before I get to that though, let’s start with the problem….

Like I said before, I didn’t know what to expect going into Love and Thunder. For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised. I think it all comes down to expectations. If you go in expecting a serious superhero movie about Thor’s life after Endgame, you’ll be disappointed. If you go in realizing it’s a superhero rom-com, it’s much more enjoyable. It’s just what Marvel has been doing, trying their hands at other genres: superhero kung fu (Shang Chi), superhero horror (Multiverse of Madness), and superhero comedy (upcoming She-Hulk). It’s a gamble, but they have the money to take some risks. So if a superhero romantic comedy (with a sprinkling of tragedy) isn’t your thing, you won’t like Love and Thunder. And that’s okay. We all have different tastes.

As far as actual problems with the movie, I had a hard time jumping around. Sure, that’s the nature of the Bifrost, but we went from planet to planet repeatedly through the movie. Not really spending much time in any particular place. It was a bit jarring to go from New Asgard to the shadows to the god council. Just a lot going on.

Speaking of lots going on, there were so many moving parts, especially in regards to characters. We had the core four characters: Thor, Jane, Valkyrie, and Korg. But then we had the Guardians of the Galaxy, a number of Asgardians to keep track of, and the random gods when they went to see Zeus. A handful of Asgardians I can understand… but the gods were a bit underwhelming to me. I don’t feel like Zeus’s lightning really made much of an impact in the final battle (it was more about Mjolnir and Stormbreaker again)... so we ended up with screen time of random gods that we’ll never see again. In some ways I feel like the only point of introducing the gods was to reveal Hercules in the credit scene.

Now for the good stuff. First and foremost, Jane Foster. When Natalie Portman didn’t return to MCU after Dark World, we all assumed she was done. The throwaway line in Ragnarok about their breakup was all we were going to get. Only a couple months after her cameo in Endgame, we learned she’d be returning for this movie. Her story in this movie was probably my favorite part. It gave us some history on where she’s been, it gave us more Darcy (who I love), and it gave us a definitive ending… with Jane succumbing to her cancer and entering Valhalla, we have a happy, albeit tragic, end to her story. 

The music for this movie was great too. The soundtrack has a Guardians of the Galaxy feel, as it used classic rock (including four popular songs by Guns N’ Roses) and a good handful of others, underscoring the epic moments of the movie. I grew up in the wrong decade to regularly familiarize myself with Guns N’ Roses, but this movie sold me on some of their songs. 

I also loved the villain. Gorr was so devious, but he wasn't meant to be evil, per se. Just hurt. A grieving father who had spent time worshipping gods who didn't care. I mean, how many of us have prayed and had those prayers seemingly go unanswered? It's easy to get discouraged and doubting... especially if the god in question tells you (Gorr) that you don't matter to him. Tragic and heartbreaking. And then to get his daughter back, only to die from the curse. It was awful.

In the end, the movie was cute. Not every Marvel movie is going to be a mind-blowing blockbuster. If each Marvel movie and each Thor movie is just trying to outdo the last, it’s not sustainable. And like I mentioned before, Marvel is trying some new stuff. Some of it is working (like Shang Chi) and some of it isn’t. In the end, I maintain that this is a romantic comedy and I recommend you into it with the appropriate expectations. 

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