For the first time in Marvel Cinematic Universe history, the franchise will deliver a fourth solo movie for one of its heroes with the release of Thor: Love and Thunder. Debuting in theaters on July 8, Thor 4 will bring back Chris Hemsworth’s titular God of Thunder for his eighth MCU appearance since 2011, which is set to bring more action and emotion than almost any previous solo Thor film to date.
Teaming up with Hemsworth is a stellar cast of characters coming back from Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame, including director Taika Waititi’s Korg and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. Additionally Natalie Portman makes her long-awaited return as Jane Foster, although this movie will see her power up as The Mighty Thor, another hero ripped directly from Marvel Comics.
This movie was the last one officially announced by Marvel Studios at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, having shocked fans with each new announcement that’s come over the last three years. From the introduction of the Marvel gods to confirmed roles for the Guardians of the Galaxy, somehow, Thor’s fourth solo movie has a shot at being the biggest of the quartet.
Bringing a fourth movie that could well be the best of its franchise is incredibly difficult (think Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), but Waititi and crew made a case with Thor: Love and Thunder this time around. The combination of character development, action, music, story, and plot surprises all came together beautifully, particularly considering this was the shortest MCU film since 2019 at only 1 hour and 59 minutes.
So, as fans prepare to dive into Marvel Studios’ 29th theatrical outing, what exactly is in store for Hemsworth, Waititi, and the rest of the cast and crew?
A-List Performances from A-List Actors
Almost every new Marvel Studios outing features an amalgamation of the top names in Hollywood, even outside of the massive team-up movies from the Avengers series. Not only is Love and Thunder no different, but the movie features some of the most memorable performances in recent memory from one of the most star-studded casts in any MCU project post-Infinity Saga.
At the top of the list is leading star Chris Hemsworth, who brings more to his role as the God of Thunder than he has in any performance to date.
Having played the role for more than a decade, Hemsworth gets the chance to explore different sides of his hero’s personality that haven’t gotten to shine in past films. The promise of him being funnier than ever came through well, and he absolutely delivered when the story called for a more serious and emotionally nuanced effort from its leading character.
Matching him on the other side of the equation is Christian Bale, who moves from his years of excellence as Batman to a terrifying and haunting rendition of Gorr the God Butcher.
Just like with Thor, Bale’s leading antagonist gets to work with a story that will make fans understand why he’s on a warpath against the gods, allowing the Hollywood veteran to show an astounding amount of range with his work. Alongside that depth, Bale brings the kind of energy seen in his past work in films like American Psycho and delivers an understated yet truly scary character that threatens everything in his path throughout the story.
But on top of the hero and villain excelling, it may well be Natalie Portman who steals the show with her take on the MCU’s Mighty Thor.
Getting substantially more to work with than in her previous two Thor franchise appearances, Portman shines as a Jane Foster that doesn’t necessarily have her life under control. From dealing with the lows of cancer treatment to the highs of literally being a superhero, Portman embodies it all as she dives into Jane’s comic history and brings the story to the big screen about as well as she possibly could.
Although these three are the highlights, they’re supported well by actors like Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) and Russell Crowe (Zeus), who help expand on the mythology of the gods and the legacy of Asgard. The Guardians of the Galaxy also have their moment to shine, fitting seamlessly into Taika Waititi’s style of humor as they back Thor up in battle.
While there isn’t enough time to gush about every single star who shines in this film, fans will not be disappointed on the acting front.
Ragnarok 2.0 – Hilarious and Emotional
When Taika Waititi first signed on to direct Thor: Ragnarok, many weren’t sure how his unique style of filmmaking would fit into the MCU, although it turned into an overwhelming success. Now, after being recruited for Ragnarok, Love and Thunder comes as the film that Waititi himself wanted to make, and it delivers in bunches.
Marvel Studios has become known for its comedy, and the fourth Thor film certainly brings that in spades throughout its nearly two-hour runtime. The humor works quite well with the action-packed story that it supports, and, even more so than Ragnarok, it makes fans laugh without feeling too forced or taking away from the plot.
What this movie does even better than Ragnarok, though, is the moments that aren’t meant to make fans roll over laughing in their seats.