Warning: This review contains spoilers
It is no secret that phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has fans divided over whether it is as ‘super’ as the previous ones. This reviewer must confess that she stands very firmly with those who have been loving it. From Wanda Vision’s cinematography and dialogues to Ms. Marvel’s oh-so-South Asian storytelling (I never thought I would see a Marvel Superhero fighting in salwar kameez!) I am in love. Add that to the fact that I have shared memes from ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ at least a hundred times, and it is obvious that I went into Thor: Love and Thunder with the highest of hopes.
If you are looking for a high-stakes film that gives you an Avengers: Infinity War level thrill, then this is probably not the perfect film for you. But if you are looking for something warm, cosy, and fun that makes you laugh (on purpose) in equal parts due to its silliness and stellar wit, then put on those 3D glasses and strap in for this journey through the heavenly realms.
Whether or not you are a Tumblr user, it is practically impossible to not come across one of those ‘You are queer if’ listicles which almost always include the line ‘You were obsessed with Greek/Roman/Egyptian mythology while growing up’. Putting the absolute scientific inaccuracy of the nature of this claim aside, the fact that these posts are wildly shared and liked means that they resonate with at least some people from the community. If you are one of them, congratulations, because this latest installment in the Thor series features Gods and myths not only from all of the aforementioned Earth mythologies (and more), but also from imagined alien religions and folklore!
The strength of the MCU has always been its well-rounded and complex characters, and this film actually takes one step further in that direction. The larger plot focuses on ‘The God Butcher’ who is going around slaying divine beings from various cultures, but interestingly, the film does not prompt us to unabashedly side with the Gods. Instead of witnessing a massacre that is robbing the universe of kindly lords, we are introduced to the narcissistic and apathetic nature of most divine beings. Zeus, of course, is obsessed with orgies while The God Butcher is wreaking havoc and killing entire planets en masse, while most other gods are focused on what mortals do for them and not vice versa. The saving grace for us is Thor, the one God in the MCU who seems actually to care about the lives of the innocent. However, Thor’s benevolence itself is not enough to make us totally side with the Gods, so the villain must at one point kidnap children from their beds and trap them in the shadow realm for Thor to rescue them to get us to really cheer for the heroes.
And this film gives us plenty of Gods. Of course, there is Chris Hemsworth as the titular Norse God, whose internal journey of learning to open his heart again is heartwarming and sweetly awkward. But there is also Natalie Portman as Dr Jane Foster and The Mighty Thor, who we are reminded was saving the world long before she picked up the Mjolnir. Though her love story with Thor (shown in flashbacks), Thor’s confusion over his ex’s new superhero status and his hammer’s apparent partiality to her give a lot of space for hilarious moments, I do wish that her character had been more developed. We see her battling terminal illnesses in blue hospital gowns and monstrous creatures in a flowing red cape, but the film did make me wonder if it would have been interesting to see more layers of how someone like her deals with newfound superpowers.
Then, of course, we have Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, the new King of Asgard. If it would have been up to me, this entire review would have basically just been a love letter to her character. A scene explicitly addressing Valkyrie’s bisexuality was famously cut from Thor: Ragnarok – and every bi person who saw that film resigning to implications that Valkyrie is very much a chaotic bisexual is not enough because the romantic life of A LOT of Marvel characters is very obviously stated in the films/series! This film, however, tells us that her girlfriend died while the two of them were fighting side by side for Asgard, and that is probably what has been causing our King to not have found another King/Queen to rule by her side yet. However, we do get to see her look absolutely handsome and charming in a swoon-worthy scene where she kisses the hand of one of the Greek muses after stealing Zeus’ Thunderbolt. I am not saying that when you watch this you will simultaneously want to be both Valkyrie and the muse, but when you watch this you will 100% simultaneously want to be both Valkyrie and the muse. You are now allowed to pause reading this review for a full minute while I recover from replaying that scene in my head. Also, did I mention that at one point King Valkyrie straight up licks a knife while she is in her warrior costume? Have I convinced you to get in your car and immediately drive to the nearest movie theatre yet?
We also learn that Korg (and everyone else on his planet, I think?) was born when two dads lovingly held hands over Lava! And we get to see a brief moment of Korg finally getting to make a baby with his soulmate that he finds off-screen. There are other mentions of queer parenthood as well, and director Taika Watiti (who also co-wrote the film with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson) has done a great job of making them all organic and amazing. The film definitely has a lot of Love and Thunder but like Eternals and the Loki series, it finally brings forth some visible rainbows that make it a million percent more ‘super’!