Michael's Thoughts on "Thor: Love and Thunder"
I've read mixed reviews on this film thus far but saw it yesterday with some of my family. Overall we enjoyed the movie experience. And I must say this is the first time I've ventured back into a public theater in a long time. It was a strange feeling. We saw the movie in mid-afternoon on a summer day and the theater was almost deserted. Before the pandemic, it would have been much more lively - although there were more people coming in as our screening ended.

There were many trailers that ran prior to the film - more than I recall seeing from pre-pandemic times. I'm interested in Nope (which is in theaters now). The premise seems to be Black American ranchers taking on space aliens. How can you NOT want to see that? Incredible promo.

There was also a trailer for an upcoming Disney animated flick that I'll share elsewhere when I can find it. I definitely want to see that. But on to Thor: Love and Thunder.

This Was Partly A Children's Movie

I haven't really tried to read all the reviews, so I don't know how much people have picked up on the theming for a younger audience.

The storyline was kind of a typical comic book plot - not aimed at children but aimed at comic book fans. If you're not used to reading these kinds of stories, you might miss a lot of the deeper innuendoes and foreshadowing. I think some of the ambiguity people have complained about is due to the fact that Taika Waititi (or someone involved with the production) kind of took the whole MCU back to its comic book roots. They kind of shrugged off the whole "vast cinematic universal franchise" concept and just decided to make a fun comic book movie.

On that level, it works. I think it works well. If you just want to see a movie based on comic books - that is, it feels like a well-made comic book - then this is a good movie to go see.

But because the plot revolves around children (on more than one level), it feels like Taika decided to turn it into a fun movie for children. And it's not going to appeal to children of all ages. There were a couple of kids in our family group and the younger one was ready to leave by the time the credits were rolling. I think she enjoyed much of the movie but it was just a bit too long for her.

Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman kind of let their hair down. Both of them had at least 1 child in the movie (Hemsworth's daughter played the daughter of Gorr). The two main actors were very relaxed with their characters, but much of their dialogue was written with a young audience in mind. Hemsworth doesn't quite break the fourth wall but there are many points where he obviously says something for the benefit of the audience. And the running gag about the "catch phrase" is close to borrowing some of Deadpool's humor.

From the movie's opening to its closing, Taika Waititi's voice provides a narrative framework that is taken right out of classic children's cinematic style. Korg is telling stories to children (I'm not sure who the kids are - they could be Asgardian children or anyone's children, including the audience). So I think he clearly, unabashadly set out to make a movie that would appeal to a younger audience - while telling a story that would resonate with older audiences (basically, Thor and Jane's love story).

Whether the film sets the stage for a greater MCU epoch the way "Avengers" did with the introduction of Thanos is open to interpretation. Chris Hemsworth seems to indicate in interviews that he doesn't know what comes next for his part in the MCU.

I had the impression, after reading spoilers about the movie, that it does set up a future conflict between Thor and a minor character from the comic books. But you have to wait for the first of 2 end credits scenes for that setup. And while that does promise that the MCU is going somewhere, based on what I know about the comics, I'm not sure it introduces the next Thanos-style villain.

The final scene with Thor (Hemsworth) implies that his daughter (India Rose Hemsworth) may have a significant role in future MCU stories. If not India herself, then her character (Gorr's daughter). I suppose the open-ended question (for now) is whether Disney/Marvel Studios is envisioning a streaming show featuring her character (perhaps directed at younger audiences) or whether they have something larger in mind. She could potentially become the next Thanos-style threat. I haven't seen any speculation on that, yet.

Some of the sub-plots in the movie seem a bit over the top. For example, Korg's role takes a bizarre twist. He comes out okay in the end (and even gets a gag scene in with "Duane"). But the Asgardian ship sub-plot is taken right out of the comic books. Movie audiences may not be aware of how (comic book) Thor was able to set sail through the cosmos in just that exact way. I was quite pleased with the way they brought that idea to the big screen.

I'm not sure why they brought Jaimie Alexander back. One of the big MCU disappointments for me has been the way they've watered down Sif from the comics. I know Thor kind of bounced between her and Jane Porter in the comics, but there were some major Sif arcs and her character hasn't been treated well by either the movies or her appearance in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. In fact, Alexander's portrayals of Sif (after the original Thor movie) have been stiff and downright awful. I attribute that to a lack of good writing and directing, not to her acting.

They just don't know what to do with the character. Alexander deserves better, even if she doesn't have much time for the franchise.

i enjoyed Tessa Thompson's part in the story but they have kind of written off Valkyrie as a useful character, too.

I think the movie is overloaded with sub-plots. It's like Waititi was trying to bring back as many characters as possible. It's almost as if someone at Disney isn't sure whether there will be more MCU movies, so they squeezed in everyone possible. Hence, the sequence (early in the movie) with the Guardians of the Galaxy is played for laughs (as part of Korg's narrative - thus influenced by the way he tells the story) rather than developed into a major sub-plot. Maybe there's a hint of what they're going to do next, but I didn't feel like that was case (other than that fans will at least know why Thor isn't with them in Volume 3).

On the other hand, the Gorr plot gives the MCU almost a clean slate for new threats and storylines. Basically, as Gorr goes around killing the gods of various worlds, they retreat to a hidden refuge - abandoning the planets they supposedly protected (and not all of them were very dedicated to that task, if that is really what they were supposed to do). The "retreating gods" sub-plot criticizes the MCU gods for being selfish and capricious. In that regard, the Asgardians stand out as unusually faithful to their purpose (if protecting lower life-forms really is their purpose).

The whole "gods of the universe" sub-plot also undoes some of the original thinking in Thor, where Odin insists the Asgardians are NOT gods. It's not clear when or where Kevin Feige and company have decided on how the MCU is structured (but to be fair to them, they're adapting characters and plot-lines from a massive archive of Marvel comic book stories, which tended to reinvent things every few years anyway).

All in all, I think Thor: Love and Thunder gets slightly bogged down with a whole lot of setup. It feels like it's trying to set the stage for something big, but it doesn't quite get you to a point where you see anything coming.

And maybe theming the movie for a younger audience is part of the problem. If Disney is going to spin off some projects for children, which is perfectly fine, it feels like someone decided they would use Thor's sub-franchise to kick-start the process. But at the same time, they're trying to use Thor to reset the stage for the more mature parts of the MCU.

And maybe that's why people are kind of ambivalent about the movie.

Probably audiences (and critics) will develop a deeper appreciation for the film after some of its foreshadowings bear fruit in future projects.

MYCode Guide

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