Youn the early days of the modern superhero film—let’s say roughly 2008, around the time of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight—it was heresy to suggest that characters adapted from comic books were kids’ stuff. These demigods were not children’s characters. Instead, they were adults who knew a lot about mythology and are worth our respect. It was impossible to get rid of childish possessions after that. These items could always be kept with us, long after the days of bearded fathers wearing long shorts and moms in tunics.
We’re still in the era of comic-book superheroes as adult totems, but now that so many of our moviegoing dollars are being funneled into cinematic universes drawn from comic books, the wisdom seems to be that we also need a few things geared specially toward kids. You can enter Thor: Love and ThunderThe second Thor movie directed by Taika Waititi, and fourth standalone Marvel Thor film overall. Chris Hemsworth portrays the musclebound God of Thunder again. The weapon of his choice was once a small, but powerful, hammer called Mjollnir. Now broken, it is being replaced by an Ax named Stormbreaker which has played a crucial role in nearly taking down Thanos. Avengers: Infinity WarBut don’t forget that.
As Love and ThunderAs the movie opens, Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy team are traveling the galaxy. Jane Porter, an astrophysicist and Jane, his love, is now back in Earth. She now sports an Instagram-mom haircut—no one can avoid the vagaries of aging. But she’s also dying of cancer, which is hardly fun. She suddenly remembers Mjollnir’s power and knows where it is broken down. She travels to Thor’s rebuilt home territory, New Asgard, now an amusement park, where…she does something, we don’t see what. The next thing you know she is transformed into a strong she-Thor, with flowing blonde tresses. Mjollnir now has its loyalty for her, which was once reserved only for Thor.
Thor is deep in thought
Learn more Gorr the God Butcher Is Marvel’s Latest Villain in Thor: Love and Thunder
There are other things that happen. The chief threat to Thor and his fellow gods is the highly unfun Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), formerly a desert-dweller—at this point Waititi nods to New Zealand’s Maori heritage—who believes wholeheartedly in the power of the gods but who loses his faith after his young daughter dies. Now, he’s a powerful being with golden eyes and a sad, rough cloak, wielding a thingie called the Necrosword. His ultimate goal is to kill all the gods. He kidnaps New Asgard’s children, in order to terrorize them, and Thor can give them the power of Thor. At some point, Jane as she-Thor appears before him, and he’s practically speechless. Although he pretends to not care, it is clear that he does. Here and there, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie struts or flies through, fabulously, on her winged horse, making us wish she’d gotten more attention for her astonishing performance in Rebecca Hall’s Passing,Never mind.
Tessa Thompson becomes Valkyrie
Thor: Love and Thunder is packed with gags and jokes, advertising itself so loudly as “Fun!” that it ceases to actually be fun. This is the way with Waititi, a gifted director who, now that he’s no longer required to wield a light touch, seems to have forgotten how to do so. (He also appears, in spirit at least, as the voice of Thor’s right-hand pal Korg.) They are bright and wide-ranging and colourful, just like modern computer-generated visuals. These highly manipulated moving images can easily be created with any type of image. We’ve reached that point. There are big, extravagant battles, if that’s what you’re after. And, most notably, this Thor seems to be largely aimed at kids: The kidnaped New Asgard kiddies have been sealed in a cave by the ballbreaking God Butcher, but Thor is able to appear to them via telepathy, at one point delivering a rousing St. Crispin’s Day–style speech to get them ready for battle. Waititi, a smartie, may be thinking that it’s never too early to get the youngsters hooked on Shakespeare.
Learn more What’s Next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe
But for grownups—or at least for me—Thor: Love and ThunderI’m a huge snore. Waititi can do some pretty cool cameos. The god of surprise—Spoileus?—forbids me from revealing their names, but they include an acting icon of the 1990s (and somewhat beyond) in a tiny chiffon skirt and a good-natured, well-liked Hollywood figure who specializes in all-American wholesomeness. It’s amusing when they show up, though the novelty wears off quickly. At the very least, there’s Hemsworth, who gets to play one of the least self-serious Marvel heroes and knows how to have fun with it. With his slicked-up pectorals and summer-of-love tresses, he’s the spirit of Jovan Musk Oil in Norse god form. Also, he’s totally SFW.
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