Thor: Love and Thunder is a fun comedic adventure that somehow also delivers a tragic story with care and gentle sentimentality. It’s my favorite Phase Four film so far.
I know calling Thor: Love and Thunder my favorite Phase Four film is a bold statement, but I stand by it. As far as projects go, Moon Knight is my favorite overall, but if we’re just looking at the movies, this is the best one for my particular needs. I like emotions with my adventures and comedy with my tragedy. On that front, this film achieved those goals. Some would prefer a more consistent tone that perhaps doesn’t have you laughing one moment and wanting to cry the next, but that isn’t me. I enjoy the tonal shifts and loved the hell out of it.
Taika’s Style Permeates Every Aspect of Thor: Love and Thunder
If you’re a fan of Taika Waititi’s very pronounced style, you’re in luck. This film is exactly the type of content you would expect from him. If you hate his style, well, sorry. That sucks for you. This is undeniably a Taika Waititi production, though, and as a fan, I was absolutely thrilled.
The mixing of genres and tone is something he’s particularly good at. Jojo Rabbit was a very obvious example of this. Much of it was told through the whimsical imagination of an innocent child who really did not see the horrors of the world around him. Those horrors eventually caught up with him and the tone shifted. It’s much the same here. Judging by the complaints about tone in Thor: Love and Thunder, this type of tonal elasticity isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
The visual style of the film is also incredibly Taika. It’s kitsch in the sense that if this bold style were matched with any other kind of story, it would be almost garish. It works here, though, much like it did in Thor: Ragnarok. If we’re telling a story in space and in different realms with aliens as the primary characters, you might as well push the visual style to the absolute limit. James Gunn tends to do this with the Guardians of the Galaxy films, as well. It works.
The Film Delivers Queer Content
Before going into the film, I saw tweets warning us that the film did not have queer content. I am delighted to inform you that those rumors are incorrect. There are at least seven queer characters – four of which are seen on screen for various lengths of time and three of which are referenced. Two of these characters are main characters.
I’m unclear why people are spreading rumors that this film lacks this content. Perhaps they just didn’t like said content, but it’s absolutely there. Just because you didn’t vibe with it, though, doesn’t mean you should go around telling lies about the film. Just be honest. The queer content is there, but you didn’t like it for whatever reason.
This section will have SPOILERS for every queer moment in Thor: Love and Thunder.
First, we have Valkyrie, who has two separate references to her queerness on screen. The first moment comes when she kisses the hand of a woman in Omnipotence City. She clearly flirts with the woman before they take off on their quest. The second moment comes when she’s drinking with Korg. They discuss her girlfriend who died in battle. This is one canonical queer character on screen (Valkyrie) and one off-screen (her girlfriend).
In that same drunken conversation, Korg discusses his two dads and how his species makes a baby. That’s two more off-screen queer characters right there. This conversation is very queer, you guys. But the queer Korg moments continue later in the film. He finds a male partner at the end, showing that he, himself, is also queer. His partner is also shown on-screen briefly. So that’s two more.
Some might feel that Korg is a cop-out as their entire species is male. This same excuse can be used for America Chavez’s moms though. The Utopia planet she’s from is entirely populated by women. They are still lesbians, though. I don’t particularly consider this a cop-out for representation, though your mileage may vary.
The last queer character is only referenced in flashbacks – Loki. He’s not in it long, but he’s canonically bisexual. He’s the only one of these seven characters whose same-sex partner isn’t actually mentioned.
Thor: Love and Thunder Was a Family Affair
My favorite aspect of the film actually has to do with the casting. It really feels like the film was a family affair. Gorr’s daughter is played by Chris Hemsworth’s daughter. Hemsworth’s wife is also in the film, playing the wolf woman. Natalie Portman and Taika Waititi’s children play Asgardian children, who have a pivotal role in the climax of the film. Melissa McCarthy joins Matt Damon, Sam Neill, and Luke Hemsworth as an Asgardian actor, and her husband joins them as the stage manager. Hemsworth and Waititi’s children also designed the monsters in the film.
It feels like the set was filled with families, and it gives me such joy just thinking about it. Some might view this as nepotism, but I don’t really see it that way. I see it as actors and creators who have had a long relationship with one another choosing to bring their families into the fold. I can imagine the days on set with all the children present were incredibly fun, and something none of them will forget any time soon. It’s really heartwarming.
WARNING: SPOILERS – Now Let’s Talk Tragedy
I’m going to talk about the major tragedy in the film that I referenced earlier, as well as an end credit scene. This is a pretty major spoiler, so turn back now.
Alright. Now that only the people who want to be here are here, let’s get down to it.
Jane Foster’s death isn’t a surprise to most people, but it was certainly tragic. She sacrificed her last bit of life to stop Gorr. It might seem incomprehensible to have something so serious happen in a film that’s so funny. But, again, Taika did the same sort of tonal shift in Jojo Rabbit. For me, this shift works wonderfully in both films, but many of the reviews I’m seeing point to this contrast as something that’s too jarring. I suppose this one can be left up to personal taste.
The end credit scene showing that she goes to Valhalla helped soothe the pain of losing Jane. We see that she can live on somewhere in peace. Valhalla actually marks the third afterlife we’ve seen so far – the Ancestral Plane in Black Panther, the Duat in Moon Knight, and now this. I’m loving the expansion of the MCU lore in this direction, and happy that we get to see some of our deceased characters able to continue finding peace somewhere.
For a major character death, I wasn’t as heartbroken as I thought I’d be. This probably comes down to Taika’s tone and the afterlife end credit scene. But it could also be the fact that her death was very meaningful and not at all thrown in for shock value. It was a crucial part of the plot and made sense. We aren’t being hurt just to be hurt, which is something many writers tend to do.
In Conclusion: Thor Love and Thunder Was Amazing
This film was exactly what I wanted. Every check box I had for every expectation was ticked as I watched the film, and I even got way more than I expected. Everyone has different tastes, so I shouldn’t be so baffled that the film is getting low scores elsewhere, but I absolutely vehemently disagree with them. A lot of the things they criticized (the tonal shifts, etc) are things I adored.
If you go in with the expectation that you’ll be getting a superhero adventure flick draped in Taika Waititi’s style, you’ll be satisfied. If that sounds like an absolute nightmare to you, you may end up being one of the detractors.
To each their own.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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