Will You Love & Thunder Thor 4?

The end of June/start of July was jam packed with season finales for Superman & Lois, The Flash, & Stranger Things. Now it’s finally time for my most anticipated movie of the year, Th4! If you’ve already read my teaser reaction for Thor: Love & Thunder & my Marvel Legends gallery, a fun game will be seeing how much of this review I directly plagiarized from myself. If you’ve not read those blogs, all this will be new to you! Either way, this The Wages Of Cinema collaboreview crackles with SPOILERS for the fourth Thor! Grab your Mjolnir popcorn bucket & rock onward!

“What if … Jane Foster had found the hammer of Thor?” is now officially the most successful “What If …?” (Better luck next time with Sony, “What If …?” #105!) When the first Thor was released over a decade ago, Natalie Portman was objectively more famous than her titular leading man by several orders of magnitude. When Jane became Thor in Jason Aaron’s comics between The Dark World & Ragnarok, I never expected it’d be directly adapted to the MCU. (After her stint as Thor, Foster became Valkyrie instead of coming up with a unique codename.) Not only does Mjolnir work differently in the movies, the very dainty actress became disenfranchised with the franchise. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong!

Natalie Portman lifted all the hammers to get swole for Dr. Jane Foster’s transformation into The Mighty Thor. While everyone went feral for buff Natalie Portman, her buffness has been somewhat oversold. She looks as muscular as Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. While’s awesome that both actresses got fit, their physiques are what I picture the baseline for action heroines should be rather than the zenith. Sleeves make it harder to compare, but they look to be in the same ballpark as Evangeline Lilly as Wasp & Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Although she’s less famous, where was the kudos for May Calamawy’s Moon Knight muscles?

Given all the hype, I was expecting Mighty Thor to be even more jacked. Although it’s a drastic physical transformation for her, Natalifts Thortman still doesn’t look like the physical equal to her agnate counterpart. (Brooke Ence expressed interest in the role but wasn’t asked because MCU Mjolnir doesn’t do a full bodyswap & she doesn’t have an Oscar yet.) Would Portman have bulked up more given additional prep time, or did Marvel Studios mandate this was her maximum muscle mass? A behind the scenes featurette showed motion capture dots on her arms, which added to the confusion about whether Portman’s gains were digitally enhanced. It’s a double-edged sword that Mighty Thor’s Marvel Legends is more mogged than she is onscreen. Nonetheless, I’m glad Captain Kaycee Portman put in the work to give herself a better physique than the CGI She-Hulk.

Not helping my unrealistic expectations is that Chris Hemsworth appears even more massive than ever before. Even though the climax of Endgame showed getting paunchy didn’t diminish him as a hero, Thor Odinson has a training montage to shed the fat ala Mr. Incredible. There’s a non-consensual disrobing gag to make sure audiences ogle all the effort he put into his bod. Everyone looks like a weakling next to this absolute unit. Fine, I’ll stop objectifying the leads now.

Ms. Marvel & Mr. Fantastic can’t have similar powers because it’d confuse audiences, but we can have two different Thors in the same movie? Neither is even ginger. If we differentiated the dual Thors by color ala Superman, Odinson would be Thor-Blue & Foster would be Thor-Red. Or they’d be Thor-Gold & Thor-Silver. He-Thor’s new golden helm makes him resemble Hawkman & Wolverine. Her costume translated very well to live action.

The mechanics of Jane’s change are unclear. The shards of Mjolnir reassemble themselves when she approaches, apparently because Thor made it promise to protect her. Why didn’t it reconfigure for him too? It would’ve been more impressive if she just satisfied the normal worthiness requirement. How is Mjolnir suddenly able to upgrade Foster’s form when the MCU version seemed to draw the transformation line at wardrobe changes? (Portman walked on special deck to make her appear taller as Thor, which explains why Hasbro made Mighty Thor taller than Padme Amidala. It doesn’t explain why Mjolnir & Odinson are so much bigger though.) Why did it bleach her hair? They wisely eschewed the mystery of Mighty Thor’s identity that everyone guessed as soon as it was teased, so it’s not necessary for a disguise. If it promised to protect Jane, why does using it drain her lifeforce? (Comics Mjolnir fought her artificial chemo, leaving her natural cancer to metastasize.) Why don’t we see the dramatic moment of Jane’s first transformation? Way to disappoint aficionados of both magical girl transformations & female muscle growth!

JaneFoster MightyThor

Somehow the actual catchphrases she tries in the movie are worse.

Dying Jane Foster transforms herself into her ex whilst he’s in the midst of an identity crisis. Lovelorn Thor is delighted to see both Jane & Mjolnir again. Mjolnir preferring Jane leaves him chagrined. Thor trying to get back with his former hammer perturbs Stormbreaker. Not only are the hammers his penis, they’re also Odinson’s jealous lovers now that they’re extra sentient. It’s awkwardly amusing!

Jane acquired Mjolnir to selfishly yet very understandably vanquish her terminal cancer. Then this astrophysicist immediately takes to superheroing. She’s surprisingly good at it aside from catchphrases. How big a time jump was there between her getting hammered up & Thor returning to Earth? Thor comes off as the more inexperienced of the duo, as he keeps wrecking things with Stormbreaker.

Once you’ve got a magic hammer, all your problems look like nails. That may not the most effective way to approach cancer. Thor thinks Jane needs to lay Mjolnir down to focus on her recovery because he doesn’t want to lose her like everyone else he cared about. Jane doesn’t see the point in wasting her limited time on chemo treatments that aren’t working anyway.

Establishing New Asgard in Tønsberg, Norway, made sense when half its population was dusted. Now that they’re back, how are they handling being displaced by Gods? What does the GRC have to say about this?

Ragnarok was a huge dealinstantly overshadowed by half the survivors being culled by Thanos only to be halved again by his Infinity Gauntlet. As the personification of attack & dethrone God, Gorr The God Butcher wants to eradicate Asgardians now. I’m already sick of this plot. Find something new to do with Gods besides using them as canon fodder. It all started with fridging Frigga, which shows a fancy sword isn’t even required.

Gorr is the visual antithesis of Taika Waititi’s reinvigoration of the Thor franchise. Casting the posterboy of the “grounded superhero aesthetic” movement, Christian Bale, is an extra meta touch. Instead of looking like Davy Jones (Agents Of SHIELD called dibs for Hive) in a g-string, now he’s Voldemort with a nose or Robert Blake in Lost Highway. Before becoming decolorized by The Necrosword, Gorr resembled X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s Deadpool with a mouth. The character was just reheated Mangog with a less memorable design to begin with.

While it’s refreshing to see Bale playing a creepy ham again, Gorr himself is one-note. He has a anti-Deity vendetta because his God specifically didn’t care his daughter died. The Necrosword also amplifies his grief-rage much like The Darkhold did to Scarlet Witch. (Agatha Harkness was a much worthier custodian than Wanda & AIDA!) he’s not as compelling as bereaved Baron Zemo or Scarlet Witch. Gorrs’s God-massacring spree doesn’t doesn’t have stakes because practically all his victims die offscreen. When he kidnaps New Asgardian kids as a trap, Thor keeps defusing the tension having magic-vision conferences with Heimdall’s son, Astrid Axl. (Was that meant to be an anti-deadnaming running gag?) Gorr does have one good scene with the kids, yet he’s not really menacing. The shadow monsters her conjures are pretty generic. He’s better than Malekith but no Hela.

Thor Odinson is the opposite of the Deities Gorr is Jesse Custering against. He’s always ready to help mortals with a smile. He remains altruistic amidst his midlife crisis. Cynical deconstructions of both religion & superheroes are passe. I appreciate Thor being an unambiguously good role model who doesn’t need to keep relearning his lesson.

One complaint about the MCU is that its sexy inhabitants aren’t having sex. (This wouldn’t be an issue if they starred canon asexuals like Legends Of Tomorrow’s Spooner.) I don’t think the issue was its stars were physically perfect at the cost of their libidos but that the stories rarely consummated any of the  pairings teased. The lack of fulfillment was big reason fans are so passionate about shipping Captain America, whether it be with Peggy, Bucky, Tony, Sharon, or Sam. Let Steve Rogers have a harem, Marvel Studios! Then Eternals showed that maybe it’s better if they don’t get it on no matter how gorgeous the cast is.

The Thor movies had been one of the sexless offenders. The first sets up a Thor/Jane romance ala Superman/Lois before cosmic responsibility intervenes. Instead diving into it in The Dark World, their reunion kiss is relegated to post-credits scene when impatient audiences might’ve already left. Ragnarok has the duo be broken up offscreen. It was incredibly frustrating to anyone who wanted to see their relationship blossom.

Thor 4 definitely lets its hunky Deities be horny in a zany way. It knows audiences find the players attractive & enables that. The problem is it’s another case of blue thunderballs. A flashback montage has to fill in the gaps of the Thors’ relationship, but that’s not enough for a couple that we haven’t seen together in nine years. Hemsworth & Portman are charming, but it’s a lot of heavy lifting for their yoked shoulders. The takeaway is they split because both were workaholics in different fields. This suggests they could be a power couple if they’re both in the superhero game. Having equal powers would recalibrate their innate power imbalance too.

Thor’s quartet heads to Omnipotent City to enlist its ecumenical pantheons’ aid. Valkyrie may’ve murdered some Gods just to get their disguises. (She wears the Padme colored slanket, not Jane or Agathor Harkness.) It’s a far superior version of the Ennead council in Moon Knight. (Its showrunner vowed to retire if Gorr kills Taweret. She lives without cameoing.) I wish this set piece has pop-ups to identify all the assembled Deities. I noticed Bast, who may reappear in Wakanda Forever. Weirdly none of the Gods are concerned about Gorr snuffing out their immortal lives. No God Squad assembles.

Russell Crowe’s Mediterranean accent as hedonistic Zeus is a welcome relief from Olympians with incongruous English accents. When Zeus both refuses & obstructs their quest, they wound him & steal his Thunderbolt. This sets up Hercules (played by Muppet fan Brett Goldstein) for revenge in the stinger. He should attack the Eternals imposters too.

The action scenes are vibrant, creative, & dynamic. It opens with Thor aiding the Guardians Of The Galaxy (Gamora is conspicuously absent) against Muppety-looking bird aliens. He does a Jean-Claude Van Damme split against their hovercrafts! Battling Zeus’s gold-blooded bodyguards was a highlight. Jane shows off Mjolnir’s new ability to fragment against opponents like a grenade & reform. The color being drained out of the Shadow Realm skirmish changes up the visual flair. Thor temporarily imbues the kidnapped kids’ makeshift weapons with Thunderbolt powers.

Gorr wants to get to Eternity to acquire a wish, presumably to genocide all Gods simultaneously rather than continue killing them personally. He needs to steal Stormbreaker to get to Eternity via Bifrost. If Stormbreaker is sentient, why does it just not open Bifrost for Gorr? If the Asgardians knew about Eternity, why didn’t they wish away The Snappening?

Valkyrie, Korg, & Sif are all too injured to participate in the climax. While I’m glad it doesn’t focus on them, it’s peculiar Thor doesn’t tag the GOTG in. Rather than continue her chemo, Jane becomes Thor again to help her beau rescue the younglings. The Necrosword is destroyed but Gorr makes it to Eternity. As Jane dies in his arms, Thor implores Gorr to choose love over hate. The misotheist’s dying wish is for Eternity to resurrect his nameless daughter.  I don’t know why Thor couldn’t wish to resurrect Jane since he also made the quest there.

Thor raises Gorr’s kid, whom now has laser eyes. Perhaps he’ll have more luck on the dating circuit as a single dad. Did Korg’s last line mean she’s literally named Love? She’s played by Chris’s real daughter, India Rose Hemsworth. His son, Tristan Hemsworth, is one of the younger Thors too. Their mother, Elsa Pataky, cameos as a wolf woman The Thunderer canoodled with. (It’s unconfirmed if the kidnapped lycan kid is their shamebaby.) Their other son, Sasha, plays an Asgardian youngling alongside Portman’s, Bale’s, & Waititi’s kids.

The other kids are returned to New Asgard, which has a giant Mighty Thor memorial statue before the town learned of her death. Jane Foster made it to Valhalla, so maybe she’ll be back as a spooky ghost. Does succumbing in the battle against cancer count as dying on the battlefield? Was it close enough to her duel with Gorr that this qualifies? Was Thor mislead about the actual criteria for entering Valhalla? Was this Jane’s wish from Eternity, & Thor didn’t realize he could make a wish too?

After being conspicuously absent for the past three movies featuring Thor, Sif finally returns! Where has Sif been? We don’t find out, but she does get her tiara at the expense of an arm. Dr. Darcy Lewis, Dr. Erik Selvig, & Heimdall also reappear for cameos. No Loki variants appear.

King_Valkyrie

This isn’t what I meant when I said I wanted to see Lockjaw outside of the Inhumans TV show!

Valkyrie’s remains delightful. Her bride is … not Captain Marvel. How dare they ignore all that lovely fan art! Thompson & Brie Larson playing Fortnite together isn’t a satisfying consolation. After hyping up that this would be about King Valkyrie finding her queen, she doesn’t get hitched? I thought she’d at least shack up with Sif. It feels like cowardly Disney made them deep six this entire plot as soon as they announced it. She talks about a dead Valkyrie girlfriend (Whereas other adaptations refuse to utter character’s codenames out of misplaced embarrassment, the MCU refuses to reveal the last Valkyrie left is Brunhilde.) & flirts with a Zeusette, but her love life isn’t a focal point.

Korg does find a husband in Dwayne. (It’s a The Rock joke!) This movie makes it sound like all breeding Kronans are “male.” (He’d previously mentioned his mum though?) So it’s less that Korg is gay than there’s only one mating option for his species.

I was also promised space sharks the Brood sometimes rode, but instead we get space dolphins as a mere background flourish. Eitri, Grandmaster, & Lena Headey’s unknown role were cut as well as Gorr dancing to Kate Bush. (“Running Up That Hill” would’ve been an approprriate track for him since none of the needle drops are deep cuts.) With Love claiming his weapon, Beta Ray Bill is still a no show! (BRB is not to be confused with the other horse-headed Thor, Hocky Hoof Hank.) At least we finally get Toothgnasher & Toothgrinder in all their bleating majesty!

Thor 3 felt like two or three movies smushed together, but its frenetic pacing & mounting threats made it work much better than expected. This one, written by director Waititi with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, feels too empty. The pacing is deflated with Korg narrated flashbacks. Gorr & Foster are empowered quickly but could’ve used more characterization. The mid-tier jokes of the loose plot distract from their pathos. (Top-tier jokes undercut the drama of the Waititi’s prior installment.) This movie surprisingly clocks in at under two hours. Being longer would’ve been worthwhile if it became less perfunctory as a result. I’d be interested in seeing how crazy the four hour cut of Thor Forever was.

I liked Thor: Love & Thunder but unfortunately I didn’t love it. While it had its share of highlights, it didn’t match its predecessor. Much like Wonder Woman 1984, I became more disillusioned with it the more I thought about it. (The Wages Of Cinema hosts expected to do a very lusty podcast in the ride back, but we ended up being glum.) The overall quality is thankfully better than that, but it still feels like a missed opportunity. Despite the title, there isn’t enough romance. A fun diversion was still had, yet I fell victim to my own great expectations.

JaneFoster_Valkyrie

Now I need a van to paint this on.

~

Next up is Ms. Marvel season one!

 

3 thoughts on “Will You Love & Thunder Thor 4?

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