I have no patience for superhero movies without a sense of humor. If executed properly (see the original Avengers) the comedy should arise naturally from the situations in the script and the characters’ reactions to them. That’s why I was so pleased when the irrepressibly funny Taika Waititi joined forces with Marvel for Thor: Ragnarok in 2017.
But there can be too much of a good thing, as anyone who’s overindulged in chocolate or ice cream can verify. The new Thor: Love and Thunder is a scattered affair that, at a certain point, is played as out-and-out comedy. Can this really be Chris Hemsworth spouting gag lines? Is his relationship to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) a springboard for sitcom-style jokes? Even the rock-like creature Korg, played by Waititi, wears out his welcome before this meandering story concludes.
Just as suddenly, the final portion of the film forsakes any hint of humor and becomes deadly serious. Or is it just deadly?
It has become almost fashionable to disparage Marvel movies, despite their incredible range of ambition and execution. But Thor: Love and Thunder is the weakest of the lot and unworthy of the kajillions it must have cost to create.
Hemsworth is well established by now as the Norse God, while Portman’s all-too-human character (which leavened the original 2011 film with some down-to-earth humor) is in transition here. If the initial MCU enterprise seemed heavy-handed, in a Shakespearean manner, this hodgepodge is its polar opposite. With Christian Bale in a doleful state as Korr, Tessa Thompson as a postmodern King Valkyrie, and Russell Crowe—yes, Russell Crowe—portraying Zeus as a prancing buffoon, no one can accuse Waititi and his co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson of making obvious or clichéd choices.
Everyone is entitled to a misfire now and then, and that includes the gifted Kiwi performer and filmmaker most responsible for Thor: Love and Thunder. I look forward to seeing what he has in store for us next. No fooling.