As a big MCU fan, a lifelong Marvel Comics fan, a fan of Taika Waititi and someone who adored Thor: Ragnarok, I couldn’t have been more excited to see Thor: Love and Thunder.

Post-Endgame, Thor has been getting himself back in physical shape, but emotionally he’s a wreck. Meanwhile, his ex, Jane Foster, is on Earth and doing her best to fight late stage Cancer, but it’s not going well – and she seeks out a potential Asgardian cure. Across the galaxy, devout Gorr is betrayed by a useless, vain god – and takes his revenge with the aid of a corrupting, deity-destroying weapon. The stage is soon set for all of these characters to meet, as Thor and Jane encounter each other again in the race to stop Gorr’s God-butchering rampage.

Despite almost instant online backlash against Thor: Love and Thunder, I found a lot to like in it. The performances are excellent, for one thing: Christian Bale’s Gorr the God-Butcher is a brilliant villain; visually terrifying, at times unhinged and yet a genuinely sympathetic figure. His actions, for the most part, do seem justifiable in the face of so many self-centered and lazy gods. Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster/Mighty Thor is superb; she just seems to be having so much fun in the role – it’s truly great to see. Chris Hemsworth of course nails Thor once again to the point where it’s legitimately very difficult to see anyone else being able to take the role on now. Ever.

And yet there’s also quite a few elements that just don’t work as well as we’d expect them to – even where they were used as recently as the last Thor film or even beyond that. Some of the humour really misses the mark, though in a movie not short on jokes, visual gags or silly asides, perhaps it’s to be expected that some don’t quite land.

That’s a problem with the film in general though too – the fact that the tone can go from genuinely tragic and heartbreaking, to daft humour in the blink of an eye. It’s a lot more jarring this time around than it was in Ragnarok – and I find that Waititi usually handles those shifts in tone a lot better; it just came across a little awkwardly here.

Visually though, it’s stunning. Synthwave-style sunsets and one whole sequence in stark black-and-white, with only specific hints of colour, really give Thor: Love and Thunder a memorable, stylised aesthetic.

There’s some genuinely brilliant cameos (if you remember Darryl from Team Thor, you’re in luck!) and some genuinely surprising outcomes to a number of plot threads, but despite the universe-spanning, god-threatening danger, overall the film seems a little inconsequential; slight, even. That’s a shame, especially given the way that it handles and even wraps up certain relationships over the course of the story; it should feel epic, but somehow doesn’t at all.

It’s far from a failure, but given the high bar set by Thor: Ragnarok – and despite brilliant visuals, as well as a great soundtrack featuring lots of Guns and Roses – Thor: Love and Thunder can’t help but feel like a mild disappointment. It’s a lot of fun – and there are even moments of real tragedy that hit hard – but it could have and should have been so much more.

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