Thor: Love & Thunder Review
I will admit that I came into Thor: Love and Thunder with relatively low expectations, especially after watching other recent installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thankfully, it’s been long enough since Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: No Way Home that I think I’ve detoxed from that standard of action and can watch a comic book superhero movie for what it is. (In my opinion, “what it is” in this case is three stars out of five.)
In my initial review upon exiting the theater, I named Thor 4 “my second-favorite MCU sitcom after WandaVision.” In Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi’s direction brought a new sense of humor to Thor’s character and films. Love and Thunder dives off the deep end in the same direction, feeling much more like a cinema-quality sitcom than a feature film. It gets some laughs, though often only by means of crude humor or shock factor. We’ve come a long way from the self-serious Asgardians of the early movies. One of the new characters summarizes this arc in a post-credits scene, recognizing that “[Gods] have become the joke!”
“[Gods] have become the joke!”
On the other hand, Christian Bale apparently missed the memo that Thor: Love and Thunder was supposed to be a goofy one. He takes the same theme—that the gods have become the joke—in a darker direction.
Thor: Love & Thunder Reflection
(Your spoiler alert begins now.)
Love and Thunder’s opening scene is focused on Bale’s character, Gorr, and his daughter. The two are clearly the only survivors left in a desert wasteland, trying to eke out an existence. Gorr’s only functions seem to be shielding his daughter from the biting sand and praying to their god for help. Eventually, his daughter dies, and Gorr is led across the desert by a whispering voice until he stumbles into an oasis. In this garden, he discovers the god to whom he’s been praying. Gorr begins to worship him before realizing this deity’s uncaring indifference to Gorr’s trials. An ancient sword with “god-killing” strength presents itself, and Gorr impales the god. His vendetta is not resolved, however; he vows that “all gods must die.”
Even recognizing that this movie is only comic book fiction riffing on old myths, I think its treatment of “the gods” provides a lot of insight into our cultural moment. In Thor 4, the gods are consistently the butt of the joke, indifferent in their omnipotence to the suffering of their people. In our world today, the perception of divine indifference has led many people to, like Gorr, swear off worshiping altogether (and instead to “worship” toward the goal of tearing deity down). Throughout the movie, the gods offer platitudes to those in distress. Thor himself even falls into this trap at points, telling children that they will be fine despite the imminent danger.
“Throughout the movie, the gods offer platitudes to those in distress.”
Thor redeems himself from this trap later in the movie. In the climactic battle, the same children are still in danger, and he imbues them with “the power of Thor, for a limited time.” With this new strength pouring out of them, the kids easily stand their ground against the forces of darkness.
The character of Jane Foster, Thor’s old love interest, also reenters the story when she picks up Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, and becomes a god herself. She has some development to do in terms of catchphrases, but her responsibility and care for others already exceed the other “gods” in this movie. Thor reminds Jane that, at one point, she was the one who taught him to be “worthy” of his power—so it’s fitting that she wields the power now herself.
In possibly my favorite interaction of the movie, Jane observes a person nearby reading her book on space and time. She strikes up a conversation, introduces herself as the author, and asks if he understands what he’s reading. Seeing that he’s confused, Jane says “You need a 3D model,” rips a page out of the book, and folds it as a demonstration.
“You need a 3D model.”
“You just destroyed your own book!” the student says.
“Yes, but now you understand wormholes!” Jane answers.
As Christians, we have our own book which we believe helps us know a god—the God, in fact. Thankfully, Scripture reveals a God who is not indifferent to our suffering, but deeply attentive to it, caring for us in it. It reveals a Father whose sovereignty is sometimes confusing, but whose perfect love for His children is unwavering. It reveals a God-man who gets what it’s like to be us, who is able to “empathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).
“Scripture reveals a God who is not indifferent to our suffering, but deeply attentive to it, caring for us in it.”
As people who know His love, when we encounter people experiencing suffering or questioning faith altogether, it can be tempting—and well-intentioned—to point to glossy answers from Scripture without really addressing the heart of the issue. “In all things God works for the good” might be true in the right context, but it is rarely helpful to a parent grieving a recent loss. Love and Thunder poses the question: when we encounter suffering people, are we actually demonstrating love in a way that makes a difference? Are we offering strength from the Spirit who indwells us? Are we willing to translate a page in the Bible into the 3D model of living it out in order to demonstrate the love of Christ?
For more from Nathan, see ndstorms.com.