Thor: Love & Thunder has officially released and is making his way across the galaxy as we speak. The movie is packed with stuff taken straight from the Jason Aaron run Gorr, The God Butcher. While the film isn’t as dark as the comic, I’m not sure it would have been to Director Waititi’s strengths to do so. Instead they let Waititi shine in his way and the movie is all the better for it. In fact, as I sit and ponder on the film, I begin to wonder if I didn’t like the way Gorr’s story ended here a bit more than the way it went down in the comics.
Love & Thunder follows the same beats as Ragnarok, complete with similar humor and pacing. Our stories see the titular Thor back in action after the Infinity Saga has come to an end and realizing he is still painfully in love with Jane Foster and is miserable without her. Unbeknownst to Thor, Jane is dealing with Stage IV cancer and is dying. With the cancer worsening, Darcy suggests Jane play the Asgardian God card but before she can, Mjolnir makes a move of its own. The hammer summons Jane to New Asgard where it begins to crackle with electricity signifying it has roared back to life.
But while all this is going on, a new threat to the galaxy has made its move. After calling upon the gods to help with his dying daughter after years and years and years of servitude, Gorr finally reaches Helios, the Sun God, and begs for his assistance. But Helios is a vain, arrogant, and unhelpful jackass who mocks Gorr but not before being dumb enough to tell him that the body of the being at his feet was in possession of a device that could kill gods. Seriously? Between Helios and Black Bolt in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, too many powerful beings have a habit of announcing how to defeat them prior to battle.
Since Gorr isn’t stupid and Helios is, the very brief battle ends with Helios dividing himself into two parts — his head and his lifeless body — after the Necro Sword went through his neck. The pain from his daughter’s death and the quick stereotyping of all gods being just as bad as Helios leads Gorr to his life’s new mission: Kill all gods. There’s only one problem, the Necro Sword is also killing him and he alone isn’t powerful enough to take them all on at once should they choose to all fight back. So, he devises a great plan.
After learning of a roadmap to Eternity, yes, that Eternity, Gorr realizes he just needs one more thing to stick his hand into Eternity and receive a wish from the embodiment of the universe. He can have any wish, but he only gets one. He’s going to use his wish to wish away all gods from existence. All he needs to get there is the Necro Sword and the bifrost (Stormbreaker). Knowing where Gorr is headed but not yet what he needs, Thor visits the City of Omnipotence in the hopes of persuading the other gods to take up their duties and fight for their people. Zeus shuts him down and furthermore tells him that he’s imprisoned because nothing can hurt the gods in Omnipotence and if Thor were to leave, he could reveal its location.
This ultimately leads Valkyrie, Mighty Thor, and Korg to fight a whole host of gods as they try to escape. After doing significant damage, Zeus finally steps in and throws his bolt named Bolt at Korg, destroying him and seemingly killing him. Telling Thor he’s next, Zeus throws Bolt at Thor only for him to capture it and throw it right back at and through Zeus, seemingly killing him and ending the conflict as the Asgardians escape with Bolt, the goats, their lives, and the still living Korg, who is now just a mouth.
The penultimate showdown occurs in the Shadow World when they all travel there to fight Gorr. When they arrive, it is Jane Foster who figures out that Gorr needs the Stormbreaker to fulfill his plan and Jane throws it far, far, out of the grasp of anyone, explaining to Thor why it had to happen. Unfortunately, this means he’s not quite as powerful and the battle results in Valkyrie nearly dying from being stabbed with the Necrosword and Jane is now entirely weakened from her time with cancer. This leads to one of the coolest scenes in the entire MCU.
Previously in the film, Gorr had taken the Asgardian children as a ruse to get Thor to follow him to the Shadow Realm so he would have the god, the sword, and the bifrost all in one location. Thor uses his power as the Allfather to imbue the Asgardian children, including the leader of the children who also happens to be the son of Heimdall, with the power of Thor and they all take on Gorr. The Allfather and the children start off strong but Gorr begins to overtake Thor and just as he’s about to stab and kill Thor with the Necrosword, Mighty Thor and Mjolnir appear much to Thor’s dismay.
Because of the cancer, every time Jane transforms into Mighty Thor, it purifies her body of the poisons fighting the cancer. Essentially, the transformation kills all the helpful drugs because they’re poisonous, not realizing that they’re poisonous to the diseases. This final transformation means that Jane will definitely succumb to the diseases. Knowing this, Thor makes his last play at Gorr with Jane by refusing to fight and instead “choosing love.”
Gorr had reached the center of Eternity and was all set to make his wish and eliminate all gods, but Thor manages to convince him that this isn’t what he wants to do. He tells him that he has the power to ask for one thing and instead of asking for his daughter back, he is asking to kill all of the gods for not helping his daughter. At first first, fans might hate the “speech” part of this, but Thor keeps it sweet and real. He tells him rather bluntly that by choosing to kill all gods instead of asking for his daughter back, he’s the one placing gods before everyone else. Gorr knows his time is short and says it would be unfair to leave her all alone in this world and that’s when Jane steps up and volunteers Thor to be the new father even though she’s about to die, too.
But the very act of seeing Thor choose love and offer to help take care of Gorr’s daughter for the rest of her life is enough to convince Gorr to do the right thing. He apologizes to his daughter and she forgives him. Both Gorr and Jane die and the unnamed child and Thor just kind of look at each other, realizing that they’re both in this together now. As the film draws to a conclusion, we find out that the child has been named Love. She now wields Stormbreaker while Thor wields Mjolnir once again, Jane has gone to Valhalla, and Zeus is sending Hercules, played by Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein, down to earth to kick Thor’s ass as repayment for stealing Bolt.
Quite a lot of stuff happened here and the film sets the stage for even more. Let’s take a look at some possibilities for the future based on what we saw in Thor: Love & Thunder. The biggest thing I’m curious to see is if the brief look we got at the Skyfathers means we’re going to start seeing more councils of gods and the different God enclaves. As with the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Namor is getting a retool from straight Atlantean to having Aztec heritage, and that’s pretty badass. These God councils could in effect serve as upper management for the different godheads in the Marvel community, leading to more clashes of gods and civilizations dedicated to these gods. Secret Wars, anyone?
As Phase 4 has throughout, we continue to see more and more of the Marvel Cosmos and the Marvel Hierarchy of Power. We’ve been given Celestials, Kree, Skrulls, Eternity, Deviants, Clandestines, Sovereign, Sakaarans, Xandarians, and so many more. This is the richness of Marvel. Their ability to swing between incredible stories on Earth mixed with swash-buckling adventures across the galaxy and facing some of the most powerful beings in existence. Beings that make Thanos look like a Chitauri soldier. As the Cosmo continues to be introduced, greater and greater threats will emerge and they will require greater levels of power to overcome.
We are for sure getting another pantheon of gods in the near-future, too. The Greek pantheon of Marvel gods has some of the funniest and most dangerous beings the Earth will soon come to know… again (they were Greek, afterall). Even just Hercules and Ares alone could cause enough damage to require most of the Avengers and that was when they were at full strength. While Ares wasn’t shown, he is the God of War and is one tough son of a bitch. He’s basically the Greek Punisher. In fact, when the Punisher and Ares meet in the comics, they actually like each other because they fundamentally understand one another. But I’m getting off track, the point is that Hercules is a bigass problem and he’s the one we do know about. So, expect the Greek gods to have a bone to pick.
We have also slowly been seeing the ground seeded for a group of younger superheroes. We already have Kamala Khan and Kate Bishop. DS2 gave us America Chavez. This film gives us Love, who has powers of her own unexplained beyond “demon.” We have had Wiccan and Speed in WandaVision. Patriot & Falcon in Falcon & The Winter Soldier. Finally, Cassie Lang will see action in the third Ant-Man film. It’s pretty clear that they’re introducing younger heroes for a reason and it’s definitely heading somewhere. Stay tuned for more on this. We don’t know how Love will fit into this going forward, but judging by her brief usage of her powers at the end of this film, it’s probably safe to say that she’s going to kick so much ass, they’re going to have to import colons from other countries just to meet the demand.
We also have whatever is next for Jane. At the end of all of this, she wound up in Valhalla. But this is not the last we have seen for her and Marvel has more stuff planned for Mighty Thor, and it’s good that they do. Not only was Portman incredible as Mighty Thor, the way she and Valkyrie played off one another wasn’t just acting. You could tell there was a genuine connection there and those two had a ton of fun filming. Their relationship was the soul of this film and there’s a lot to tell with Jane Foster as Mighty Thor. It also needn’t contrast with what they’re doing with Chris Hemsworth. There’s more than enough room to explore both those stories in great detail and they should.
The theme of this film was love and enduring. It’s clear that Marvel isn’t going to just introduce those concepts and then abandon them entirely. It’s a way to help set up what’s to come, sure, but there are also important lessons about life and why these people fight and protect others. If those lessons were soon abandoned simply because the credits rolled, it would be a huge disservice to all that Waititi has built with Asgard and its characters. I know Thor has already had four movies, but only two of them have had the right director. I sincerely hope Marvel gives Waititi space (literally) one more time to explore these characters. He’s the right person for the job along with his chosen crew. They’ve built it, let them see it through to its natural conclusion.