Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) sees Taika Waititi return to Disney’s Marvel franchise as writer and director. This time out Waititi channels his love of 80s Steven Spielberg/Amblin family films into Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s world of gods and monsters while still leaning heavily on the ironic humor that helped make Thor: Ragnarok (2017) a titan at the box office. The resulting film, however, is a far cry from its progenitors in quality.
If Waititi’s ambition is to make the most shallow and intellectual bankrupt of spectacles then he has succeeded. Waititi has incorporated Steven Spielberg’s amusement park philosophy into his own style, stringing together special effect heavy set pieces in a series of nonsensical, easily sampled scenes. And like Spielberg and George Lucas the space between these sequences of derring-do are comprised of uneven gestures towards unrealized characters that never amount to more than sketches of well worn archetypes.
The issue with this approach is that Waititi insists that every performance be given with a wink and a nod. No one in the cast except for Christian Bale seems to take their character or the world of the film seriously. When Waititi isn’t strapping the audience in for a roller coaster ride he is trying to amuse them with self-deprecating irony. Thor: Love & Thunder doesn’t parody the superhero movie, it’s a joke on the audience. Waititi clearly doesn’t have to put any effort into working on this film to make it fresh and relevant to get the dollars out of viewers’ hands and into the pockets of his patrons the executives at Disney.
While Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth do little more than quip and smirk their way through this train wreck, Christian Bale has decided he’s in some prestige fantasy film Oscar bait à la The Lord Of The Rings. Bale plays Gorr The God Butcher with total commitment, embracing the creature-like qualities of the character by crawling around and wheezing. Bale’s seriousness is utterly incongruous in Waititi’s vision of vapid excess.
Thor: Love & Thunder is an a front to the cinema and to movie goers everywhere. The Marvel franchise has reached rock bottom and must be stopped. The collective efforts of Taika Waititi and the Russo Brothers have rung every last vestige of genuine artistry from an already dubiously bland franchise. I don’t think I have ever felt so insulted or angered by a film as deeply as I have watching Thor: Love & Thunder.