Wednesday I took the bus into central London to see Thor: Love and Thunder, one of several simultaneous previews shown in cinemas across Leicester Square. This was not the star-studded red carpet deal – which was across the street in a classy theater – but a cardboard Chris Hemsworth was made available for selfies, and grinning fans stood in line to grab a large plastic hammer. Later, while sitting in the buzzing auditorium waiting for the movie to begin, someone behind me repeatedly tried to record an audible message to his followers, so I heard about 50 times that he had summed up each plot of the Marvel movies. online (no meaningfulness). feat), and that Marvel had invited him to the preview as a reward. He also claimed, to his obvious excitement, that Hemsworth was in the building. A pre-recorded greeting later confirmed that Hemsworth was unfortunately not even in the country, but writer / director / Korg Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) and Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) walked over from the other theater to thank the audience. “How gay is the movie?” shouted a fan to Portman. “So gay,” she replied after a pause, touchingly cheering the audience. (In my mind, they all waved big plastic hammers; this may be a fake memory.)
Say what you like about the Marvel series, the fans are 29 movies deep and still have a ball. As someone who has seen less than a quarter of these and not read a single cartoon, I am also unable to make a smart critique or even one on par with Martin Scorcese. What I want to say though is that over the years it has become harder and harder just to dive into the franchise. Thor: Love and Thunder hammered this home. It’s not exactly a critique. Instead, it’s an account: At this point, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown so close and self-referential that it’s hard to watch one of these movies without feeling like you’re missing out on all the in-jokes and plot revelations . You lose a lot if you do not know the characters, basically. Love and Thunder has been sold as an action movie, but in many ways fits better into the hangout genre.
This latest Thor is the first page Thor: Ragnarok, also controlled by Waititi. IN Love and Thunderthe new villain is Gorr the God Butcher, played by Christian Bale, a silver man with a laugh like the moon from Majoras mask and a voice, disturbing, as Bale’s real English accent. Gorr wants revenge on the gods because one of them let his daughter die; conveniently, he has his fingers in Necrosword, a god-killing weapon. Thor, stunningly orange and sculpted, with each arm a sun-drenched mountain range, must give up walking around with the Guardians of the Galaxy crew to stop him. At the same time, his ex, Jane Foster, is diagnosed with cancer. However, it looks like she’s getting well again wearing Thor’s old hammer, and it also gives her a pair of goal-matching costumes. They join Valkyrie after Gorr attacks New Asgard and leaves with the town’s children. The team’s journey will take them to the almighty city, where Russell Crowe plays Zeus, who exudes an entertaining hammy Greek (?) Accent.
Entering ArtReview. “Without a single focus on one plot, against which everything relentlessly builds,” writes Canavan, “the franchise is instead fixated on minor variations of itself and its own affective rhythms, on asking, mourning and remixing its own past.”
This summary almost catches the problems with Love and Thunder. Take Thor and Foster’s relationship, which flourished in the first two Thor films, not the praised one Ragnarok. To Waititi’s credit, he provides several summaries to get you up to speed, usually through the mouth of the lovable rockman Korg or via plays-within-plays with Matt Damon. But these may not provide the emotional character development needed to make you worry about the couple’s struggle with love and cancer.
A reasonable answer would be to point out that Marvel movies, like Marvel comics, are meant to be enjoyed in conversation with each other; that they are never stand-alone stories. But there is a noticeable futility Love and Thunder it’s hard to ignore if you do not watch the movie just to see your favorite characters. In a post-Playoffs world, the dramatic effort is just lower, a problem exacerbated by Waititi and his actors’ cool, ironic tone. These films are formed in his image, shot through with the same mischievous satire that informed his What we do in the shadows. But that tone heightens the impression that nothing really matters: We are here just to have a good time.
And that’s fine! (Or it would be nice if the Marvel series’ supermassive black hole did not swallow the prospect of other blockbusters without Tom Cruise or Minions, but it’s a trampled topic.) These movies do not have to accommodate everyone, and it’s funny, almost avant-garde, that they have become so insurmountable to outsiders. But how do they age? Will the audience in 30 years, as you could imagine have a completely different frame of reference, find them to see? Is it conceivable that they will log on to Disney + Max and see More than 50 hours of film to get the references in one movie? Maybe, but we are not near the end either. After Love and Thunders credits, Zeus shows up to summon Hercules, the subject of another movie. There is one cartoonand a whole lot of knowledge about him too.