Bad romance: The problem with “Thor” is that the MCU is better at thunder than love

It seems the biggest crime Thor: Love and Thunder commits is not having enough of it. . . some.

The story doesn’t last enough gravitas to show Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in his best light. Christian Bale’s villain, Gorr the God Butcher gets nothing enough Screentime to break the tsunami of jokes. The script does not grant Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie enough Room to find the romance teased leading up to the film’s release. It falls short on many fronts, say disappointed moviegoers.

Just as much criticism has been leveled at Natalie Portman’s return as Dr. Jane Foster, the Norse god’s ex-girlfriend. The usual suspects likely blame Jane’s oversized presence for negative audience reviews, since unlike Black Widow, the scientist’s sexuality was never a selling point for her character. If that’s not the problem, maybe the way her illness is portrayed wasn’t taken seriously enough. Or maybe their title Mighty Thor wasn’t adequately explained.

Another theory worth considering is that Thor: Love and Thunder, like 2011’s Thor, attempts to turn a relationship saga into an MCU action film. These concepts don’t necessarily have to be contradictory, but in a franchise forged by the Infinity Saga, they don’t marry as happily as people would like.

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Taika Waititi, who directed 2017’s ‘Ragnarok’ – the best film in the MCU warehouse’s ‘Thor’ section – pumps the color and wit of this installment up to 11, drawing more from the ‘heavy metal’ than it does the hatchery from the Avengers movies.

As Thor forms an alliance with Jane, he confronts his unwillingness to love again for fear of being emotionally shattered.

Rough right?

Unfortunately, after Thor: Love and Thunder came out after two relatively disappointing Phase 4 misfires, Eternals and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, fans expected the hero to return to his predecessor Infinity War ” form.

In a way, he does. In a montage narrated by Thor’s Steinmann sidekick Korg (voiced by Waititi), we see Thor lose his depressed weight, the result of his failure to stop Thanos and his inability to end his breakup from Jane by making the galaxy his personal CrossFit circuit. “And never skip leg day!” says Korg.

Thor: Love and ThunderTessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder (Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios)What some didn’t want was that Thor’s feelings for Jane got in the way of all the powerful face smashing. Alas, for this contingent anyway, when Thor joins forces with Jane, Korg, and Thompson’s Valkyrie to throw hands (and hammers, axes, swords, and lightning bolts) across space and into eternity at the enemy, Thor confronts his reluctance, to love again for fear of being emotionally shattered.

Rough right?

Rather than just starting another team, Waititi and Robinson wrote a parable about finding empowerment through that mystical state as elusive as finding the center of all things: closure.

Getting there and back requires journeys through grief, mortality, and acknowledgment of wasted time, through both Gorr’s story and Thor’s. The script carries weight—just not in the areas we typically ascribe to Marvel characters, whose struggles typically revolve around duty, sacrifice, and honor. You know, superhero stuff.

Jane has a bigger problem to deal with than placating a penitent ex. (Isn’t that usually the case?) Unlike Thor, she doesn’t have all the time in-universe to think about what went wrong between them.

With Thor’s hammer Mjolnir summoning her in her darkest hour, she decided to take the god’s weapon into her own hands and undertake the adventures she denied herself by devoting the remaining time to scientific research. This leads into another gag: Thor’s inability to let go of Mjolnir, making his new weapon, Stormbreaker, a bit jealous.

The thematic Bifrost, which joins 2011’s Thor and the Thunder God’s new film, explores how a person’s ability to love and be loved can make them a better and more whole human being.

superhero movies can Mind you, examine these motives thoughtfully, provided they don’t work against a structure that requires their heroes to solve their problems, crack jokes on demand, or, in Jane’s case, blurt out clumsy catchphrases because she’s determined to make one realize.

Thor: Love and Thunder embraces these sinful passages because it’s so desperate to be a romance that’s also a wacky, family-friendly comedy that also flaunts its star’s impressive musculature. None of this is strong enough to crawl out from under the crushing demands of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s identity.

blank“Captain America: Civil War” (Marvel/Disney)Since 2008, moviegoers have grown accustomed to MCU titles dominating the box office at least twice a year, sometimes even three times a year. With the regular and meticulously planned release of nearly two dozen universally engaging, action-packed standalone films, audiences were programmed to anticipate the promise that each would lead to something greater.

Periodically, the main heroes – Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and Thor, along with Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Spider-Man – rallied to battle an apocalyptic evil, like a bloated supergroup that promised to kill every couple touring of summers.

The idea worked for 15 years. But even at the height of its power, the franchise’s format was showing signs of wear and tear. The audience for these films had expanded, but apart from a few creative outliers like Black Panther, the structure of the adventures hadn’t.

Black Panther adapted the MCU format to a nobler purpose, allowing the story to serve as a statement of history, colonialism, and legacy. Most Marvel titles can only grapple with this last bit.

Marvel isn’t entirely clumsy when it comes to relationships. The Avengers movies work because of the platonic bonds their heroes have forged.

Still, Marvel’s heroes almost always face a moral or existential crossroads as they strive to stop any world-, galaxy-, or universe-ending force blazing their way into their line of sight.

This requires the protagonists’ personal issues to take a backseat to taking down CGI wallop fests that destroy local ecosystems or ravage square miles worth of real estate. The savoring of the treasures of life or love only takes place when the dust has settled and usually a few minutes before the credits roll.

Black widowScarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in “Black Widow” (Marvel Studios)Marvel isn’t entirely clumsy when it comes to relationships. The Avengers movies work because of the platonic bonds some of their heroes have forged. Depictions of family dynamics are strong, too, with recent highlights being Natasha Romanoff’s sister role with Florence Pugh’s Yelena on Black Widow and Kamala Khan’s parental relationship with her father, mother and brother in the Disney+ TV series Ms. Marvel” were. “

In order to consolidate its potency with the next generation, this effort is required. Some have posited that the lack of a gargantuan villain lurking at the next crossroads of this part of the MCU has left the franchise leadershipless (although Kang the Conqueror was introduced by Jonathan Majors at the end of Loki’s first season). I suppose that’s less of an issue than that Marvel is struggling with the fact that their Infinity Saga fanbase is aging and they’re now making movies and TV shows for their kids.

But none of these are flies in the Love and Thunder cocktail, especially given the final battle’s delightful amplification by a bevy of electrified Moppes. What the film lacks is the Marvel franchise’s inability to sell romantic relationships that don’t somehow spring from the battlefield or, in the case of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), spring from closeness, necessity, and utility.

Thor: Love and ThunderNatalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder. (Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios)

Thor and Thor: Love and Thunder serve as self-improvement stories for Hemsworth’s superheroes. In the first “Thor” film, his father drains his powers and won’t allow him to regain them until he learns to become a more considerate person. In Love and Thunder, his emotional mission is to accept grief as the price of caring for people, especially one person.
And Jane – who, like Pepper and MJ in Spider-Man, is a normal human involved in the action – is the catalyst for both of those lessons. She’s a scientist, he’s a god.

During their first meal together in “Thor,” he states that proper dining etiquette means smashing dishes and yelling “More!” At the end of “Love and Thunder” he lovingly makes breakfast for a little girl.

For some, Jane is living the dream. Others recognize this development as deeply problematic, a broken man’s pipe dream that can be repaired. And if this is Marvel-style love, it’s no surprise that the original Thor was the only MCU film prior to the releases of Eternals, Multiverse of Madness, and now Thor: Love and Thunder. who received a CinemaScore grade worse than A.

In a subgenre that, until recently, aimed at the young male demographic and sold tickets with the promise of showing human-sized people wreaking havoc, who wants to wrestle that sugary bloat?

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Still, “Love and Thunder” isn’t the glaring failure that the press and social media portray it as. It’s just not the typical MCU flick we’ve come to expect. If “Love and Thunder” is dumber than a box full of bricks, maybe that’s because the story is told from the point of view of what? A sentient pebble pile.

It’s far more goofy, swapping wit for camp and channeling its rockstar vibes more clearly than before. It’s also aimed at people who see Hemsworth as eye candy and Thor as suitable for children. And that worked, at least in its opening weekend, when it grossed $143 million domestically and $302 million worldwide.

Perhaps the problem, then, isn’t its inadequacy compared to its more popular MCU predecessors, but the fact that it’s trying too hard to attract a new audience in an arena that doesn’t play to its strengths. For many people, there is nothing less attractive than a suitor who tries too hard.

Thor: Love and Thunder is in theaters now.

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https://www.salon.com/2022/07/15/thor-love-and-thunder-mcu-romance-problem/ Bad romance: The problem with “Thor” is that the MCU is better at thunder than love


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