‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ is a brilliant hot mess that works, which is why you probably hate it

If you ever wondered what the MCU might look like if sprinkled with LSD and rolled in a big fat blunt of medical-grade awesome, here’s your answer

click to enlarge 'Thor: Love and Thunder' is both a straight comedy and an ambitious space adventure, packed with jaw-dropping visuals such as this fallen god. - Photo via Marvel Studios
Photo via Marvel Studios
'Thor: Love and Thunder' is both a straight comedy and an ambitious space adventure, packed with jaw-dropping visuals such as this fallen god.
First things first, yes, everything you’ve heard is correct. The fourth standalone Thor film, “Love and Thunder,” is a lot to take in.

In fact, it’s a veritable cornucopia of conflicting, clashing and comingling styles, perspectives, attitudes, humor and pathos thrown into a blender before being hurled against the wall.

At times, it’s fair to wonder whether this much Taika Waititi might actually be too much Taika Waititi.

Thor: Love and Thunder
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Trust me, it's a valid question.

Waititi’s distinct creative vision was championed in 2017 for ushering in an entirely fresh take on everyone’s favorite Asgardian god. Everyone loved the humor. Everyone cheered the subversive vibe.

That said, everything you loved about “Ragnarok” is present in “Love and Thunder,” along with a whole lot of new shit that is likely to drive MCU purists insane.

From the giant bleating Asgardian goats (LOVE them!) to Russell Crowe as an orgy-loving Zeus to Korg having same-sex rock babies to a wonderfully off-kilter and charming subplot about Valkyrie’s efforts to keep New Asgard safe and welcoming to citizens and tourists alike, there is so much, maybe too much, happening in “Love and Thunder.”

It's kind of exhausting, but it’s also invigorating as hell to see Marvel taking such creative risks.

“Love and Thunder” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” are like those overstuffed Giant-Sized annuals that Marvel Comics used to release in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The ones where anything could happen, and often did.

To argue and fist-shake against the kooky kaleidoscope that is “Love and Thunder” is to basically denounce everything you grew up loving. You might as well wear a T-shirt that says, ‘I hate fun.’

Sure, the Lady Thor (Natalie Portman) storyline doesn’t mirror its comics inspiration, but that’s okay. Portman kicks total ass as Lady Thor. She’s funny and strong and tender in ways that rival her best work as an actor.
click to enlarge Do not adjust your dial. That ain't Marilyn Manson. It's Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher. - Photo via Marvel Studios
Photo via Marvel Studios
Do not adjust your dial. That ain't Marilyn Manson. It's Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher.
Yes, Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher has a consistency problem, namely that Bale seems to be having such a good time playing a complex, iconic character from the comics, that he utilizes a host of emotions and faces throughout the film, some sad, some silly and some scary as hell.

I would argue that Gorr is a fantastic antihero. Not only does he get one of the most poignant, heartbreaking introductions of any MCU film to date, but he leads Thor and Co. to the center of the Marvel universe as it exists in the comics, which is quite a feat, and which will pay dividends for many movies to come.

That’s why the equal measure of irony and creative genius that resides in Waititi’s brain is no joke, and shouldn’t be dismissed. It’s also why fans should be thrilled to see him take chances and miss the mark instead of never trying to do something profoundly stupid that might actually work and become iconic.

Case in point: Another classic Thor adventure.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) talks throughout “Love and Thunder” about his classic Thor adventures. Waititi shares snippets of those adventures early on, and they’re literally ridiculous and over-the-top and cheesy as hell, but that’s the point. As a fan, you don’t feel like you’ve seen a proper Thor adventure, much less a classic one. As a critic, I wrote in my notes that I could have done without those snippets altogether.

The brilliance arrives much later, just before the credits roll, when you realize that what you’ve just witnessed is actually a “classic Thor adventure,” and your day is that much better as a result.

Now who can be mad at that?

About The Author

John W. Allman

John W. Allman has spent more than 25 years as a professional journalist and writer, but he’s loved movies his entire life. Good movies, awful movies, movies that are so gloriously bad you can’t help but champion them. Since 2009, he has cultivated a review column and now a website dedicated to the genre films...
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