Following up on Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder is just around the corner to pick up on some potentially exciting plot threads based on the early looks and trailers we’ve seen so far. Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder has been through a ton of character growth since his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2011 as one of the original six Avengers.
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is back in a role that looks to be refreshingly more important than in the first two movies, with Christian Bale’s surprising role as lead antagonist Gorr maximizing the already high level of appeal the Marvel sequel has to its devoted audience. It’s a lot of moving pieces coming together in one story, but here are the broad strokes to get the full context of what challenges Thor and company will have in front of them in Love and Thunder.
Throughout Marvel Studios’ massive crossover event Avengers: Endgame, fans saw a Thor emotionally disheveled and coping with a great deal of guilt over a self-perceived failure to stop Thanos. Leaning into his depressive mental and physical state through comedic relief was admittedly a bit tactless in places, but he was thankfully put back on a path of healing and self-discovery by the end of the movie.
Tho left the leadership of New Asgard to Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie and set off on a galactic adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a fitting way for Thor to take a step back from the incredible responsibility that comes with succeeding his late father, Odin — and as an Avenger — to go on a bit of soul searching. By the looks of Love and Thunder, his time with the Guardians of the Galaxy looks to be a brief setup before getting into the grander plot.
Those familiar with the MCU already, and more specifically with Waititi’s previous work on the character in Thor: Ragnarok, should have no issues slipping into the tone of what Love and Thunder will be. It looks to have an upbeat but more distinctly ’80s feel and aesthetic to it while throwing in a romantic element with the return of Jane Foster. This movie will continue Thor’s quest to find inner peace and a renewed sense of self after all the Avengers-level fallout.
Of course, one of the big selling points of this fourth Thor movie is not only Foster’s comeback after a pair of bland roles in the original movie and Thor: The Dark World. Love and Thunder will see her return in the form of the Mighty Thor, which is about as grand of a comeback as can be.
Both she and Valkyrie will be teamed up with Thor to face a new threat, but Mighty Thor’s inclusion will also be taking a clear page from one of her biggest comic book storylines. Waititi will be adapting certain narrative aspects of Jason Aaron’s run on the Mighty Thor series, in which Jane takes on the superhero mantle while grappling with a cancer diagnosis and the resulting treatments.
It’s a deeply intimate premise, and it’s one that will hopefully be suitably heartfelt and impactful in Love and Thunder. Seeing her character be properly fleshed out in this sequel should be satisfying to see play out, as will a much more interesting character dynamic between Jane and Thor under more emotional circumstances.
And ever since the events of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Thor has seemed to make his Stormbreaker ax his new signature weapon while Mighty Thor wields a refined version of his old hammer Mjolnir. Jane’s new suit also looks like a great rendition of her comic book counterpart, complete with the Norse-inspired helmet.
More than a mere one-dimensional love interest, Portman’s role as Mighty Thor in the upcoming movie will surely be one to keep an eye on as Kevin Feige and the rest of the heads of Marvel Studios plan out the near and distant futures of the MCU.
After Portman’s return to the MCU fold and in a bigger role than ever, Christian Bale’s debut in this cinematic universe as the villain Gorr the God Butcher is undoubtedly the next most exciting element of Love and Thunder. This will be the British actor’s first appearance in the comic book/superhero genre since wrapping up his celebrated tenure as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy.
Gorr the God Butcher is a relatively new addition to Thor’s rogues’ gallery in the comics, with his first appearance having come in Thor: God of Thunder #2 in 2013 courtesy of creators Aaron and artist Esad Ribić. As his name and the title implies, Gorr has a lifelong grudge against the gods of the universe, believing them to be selfish and deserving of eradication from the world.
In the comics, he came from an alien race on an unknown planet that was brutally desolate, leaving his kind to live in squalor. He was cast out of his tribe for not sharing their otherwise unanimous fervent faith in the gods. Gorr didn’t initially believe they existed, but his boiling hatred for them arose when he discovered that not only did they actually exist, but they weren’t the benevolent champions of the downtrodden that his tribe believed them to be.
Following the deaths of his mother, lover, and children, Gorr set off on a genocidal quest to hunt down all the gods that eventually pit him against Thor. He takes up All-Black the Necrosword, a weapon used by Knull, who was the progenitor of the Symbiotes (Venom, Carnage, etc.), but it remains to be seen whether this sword will have ties to that side of the Marvel Universe.
Bale is widely known for his top-class acting chops and is equally known for taking on transformative roles — sometimes literally. His character’s design for Love and Thunder looks like a tastefully inventive take on the comic book version, and seeing Bale pour his talents into this villain should be a sight to see.
Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder premieres in theaters on July 8.
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