Why Thor: Love & Thunder's Reviews Are So Divided

Early Thor: Love & Thunder reviews have been mixed by Marvel standards, and the film is currently at risk of becoming the third MCU Phase 4 movie to fall short of the "certified fresh" label on Rotten Tomatoes. Thor: Ragnarok revitalized the God of Thunder and his series as a whole thanks to Taika Waititi's unique vision, creating very high expectations for its follow-up Thor: Love and Thunder. The return of Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, her transformation into Mighty Thor, and Christian Bale's MCU debut as Gorr the God Butcher make Thor: Love and Thunder incredibly promising from the start. That Chris Hemsworth's Thor notably rose to one of the most popular Avengers after his character development and power-up in Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame only set the bar higher for the sequel.

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Before Ragnarok, the MCU's Thor had largely been a one-note character with a drab, forgettable second film, Thor: The Dark World, and an ill-received secondary plot in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Neither the audiences nor Chris Hemsworth seemed to be happy as to where the character and the Thor movies were going, and thus Taika Waititi was brought in to completely reinvent the God of Thunder. The risky move worked perfectly, and Thor: Ragnarok became not only the highest-grossing Thor movie but also the best-reviewed one, with an impressive 93% "certified fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Thor: Love & Thunder's Rotten Tomatoes score, however, is so far significantly behind that number.

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Thor: Love & Thunder reviews currently have the film standing at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. While that is close to the MCU's most recent movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (74%), it falls behind all the other MCU Phase 4 movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home (93%), Shang-chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (91%) and Black Widow (79%). Thor: Love & Thunder's Rotten Tomatoes score is also behind 2011's Thor (79%), and it is currently closer to Thor: The Dark World (66%) than it is to Ragnarok. While Thor: Love & Thunder reviews highlight that Taika Waititi hasn't lost his touch, they also speak of the movie being too similar to Ragnarok–for better and worse. Natalie Portman's Mighty Thor and Christian Bale's Gorr are pointed as highlights, as is Hemsworth's performance as Odinson, while the visual effects and inconsistent tone are see as low points. Here's what some of the mixed Thor: Love & Thunder reviews are saying about the movie.

Screen Rant

"Tonally, Love and Thunder whips back and forth between heart and humor, and where that might be disorienting at times (or lessen the effect), the overarching message of the film — and where it leaves the characters, both its heroes and its villain — makes any inconsistencies well worth the effort."

CBR

"For those who were not fans of Thor's more comedic treatment in Ragnarok, Love and Thunder may feel disappointingly familiar. There are also moments that are primarily there for a recap, but even then, it's done in a tongue-in-cheek way that's entertaining. Meanwhile, those who love seeing this side of the self-proclaimed strongest Avenger will not be disappointed. Thor: Love and Thunder lives up to its name and sets the stage for an exciting future for this corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe."

AV Club

"Natalie Portman and (especially) Christian Bale contribute more than enough capital-A acting bona fides to lend deeper emotional dimensions to Waititi’s loose, occasionally too-cheerful but always visually adventuresome adaptation of Jason Aaron’s stint on the Mighty Thor comic, in which (among other things) Portman’s Jane Foster gains the hero’s powers."

EW

"If Thunder, with its cheerful melee of starry cameos, in-jokes, and Cliffs-Notes mythology, feels a lot like franchise fatigue, it also has frequent moments of gonzo charm, thanks largely to the Technicolor lunacy of writer-director Taika Waititi and a cast that seems inordinately game to follow his lead."

Collider

"With Love and Thunder, Waititi fully leans into his brand. Having co-written the screenplay with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, his DNA is all over this film. Eccentric and funny, with touches of slapstick, and a heavy dose of heart and some melancholy – it's a familiar formula when it comes to Waititi's work, but not one that has lost its charm."

LA Times

"Unfortunately those aims are lost, or at least frustratingly under-realized, in a blur of flat-footed jokes and lazily schematic plot turns, plus the general sense of a franchise spinning its creative wheels. These issues smack of run-of-the-mill Marvel fatigue, but they also bear the fingerprints of New Zealand-born director Taika Waititi (who co-wrote the script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson)."

Indiewire

"The title that Taika Waititi chose for “Thor: Love and Thunder” is a good one; not only does it reflect the movie’s hard rock flavor (which is as much of a tribute to Guns N’ Roses as “Thor: Ragnarok” was to Led Zeppelin), it also speaks to the latest Marvel spectacle’s almost perfectly even split between raw emotionality and empty noise."

The Wrap

"In “Thor: Love & Thunder,” however, he and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (“Someone Great”) attempt to balance that jokey tone with themes and plot points that would feel more at home in an Ingmar Bergman film, and the results cancel each other out, leaving many of the surface pleasures of an MCU movie but also a nagging sensation that none of this quite works."

Thor: Love & Thunder Reviews Question Film's Tone & Script

Chris Hemsworth in Thor Love and Thunder

While Taika Waititi said more than once that he did not want to make Love & Thunder just a rehash of Ragnarok, it is clear from the reviews that the sequel at least tried to replicate what had worked for the third Thor film. However, Thor: Love & Thunder's humor seems to not be landing quite as well, to the point that it gets in the way of more serious parts of the story. Thor: Love & Thunder has assembled a cast of A-list Hollywood actors playing several important Marvel characters, and yet Thor: Love & Thunder does not seem to have made the best use of all of them.

Empire

"In so many ways, for mostly better and occasionally worse (a jaunt to Omnipotent City drags a touch), Thor: Love And Thunder is a deeply weird, deeply wonderful triumph. It’s a movie that dares to be seriously uncool, and somehow ends up all the cooler for it — sidesplittingly funny, surprisingly sentimental, and so tonally daring that it’s a miracle it doesn’t collapse."

The Hollywood Reporter

"But right down to a sentimental ending that seems designed around “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” the movie feels weightless, flippant, instantly forgettable, sparking neither love nor thunder."

Roger Ebert

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is more or less a victory lap for all that director Taika Waititi achieved with his previous Marvel film, the often hilarious, rousing, and plainly refreshing “Thor: Ragnarok.” And while it has too many familiar flourishes and jokes, this entertaining sequel is still a force for good, with enough visual ambition and heart in front of and behind the camera to stand on its own."

The MCU is in transition after Avengers: Endgame, with solo movies and Disney+'s Marvel series still trying to find the tone of what the future of the franchise will be. This search will not be easy, as proven by Love & Thunder's mixed reviews. In any case, the general consensus is that those who enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok will like Thor: Love & Thunder, whereas those who wanted something slightly different—a more serious tone to match its deathly serious subject matter, for instance—might be disappointed.

2022-07-07T15:33:35.000Z

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