To say that it was one of the few Marvel films that I’ve actually been looking forward to, it’s taken a really long time for me to actually watch the most recent Thor film. I meant to go and see it in the cinema but Covid kept preventing it. So, it was one of the first things that I watched following its release on Disney+ last week. I was really looking forward to it because I loved The Mighty Thor run of comics. It was always going to a dodgy one with fans though. I remember when the comic first came out and a guy I worked with was livid. He couldn’t understand why there could be a female version of Thor when he’s based on Norse mythology. I had no time for him or his nonsense.
When Jane Foster stepped into the role of Thor, I was ecstatic. So, when it was announced that she would be appearing the fourth film in the franchise, I was also over-the-moon. I can’t say that I’ve been particularly fond of Natalie Portman’s previous work in the MCU but I figured a meatier role might inspire her a little more. Maybe she would also be able to find a way to bring a bit more chemistry to her on-screen romance with Chris Hemsworth?
As Taika Waititi’s was returning after the phenomenal success of Thor: Ragnarok, there was a lot of pressure for this film to live up. His previous film was a surprisingly funny film and one of Marvel’s best films in the last 5 years. But Thor has been through a lot since then. He’s lost his brother (again), gained a ton of weight, fought Thanos, and gone off into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. So, there was going to be some inevitable tying up of some loose ends. Hopefully it wouldn’t prove to be too much for one film.
First off, I have to say that I enjoyed this film. Not as much as Ragnarok but enough. I won’t pretend that it isn’t formulaic or really obvious. It definitely is. And does it desperately try to recapture the magic of the previous film? Yes. It tries so hard to hit all of the same notes and it doesn’t always work. The jokes don’t always land as they should and it does feel a tad familiar.
Then there’s the story. It’s a little thin and tends to get a bit repetitive. A villain turns up before running off. Thor goes after him and doesn’t win. Thor goes home. Thor goes after the villain again. Putting off the inevitable showdown just gets a bit silly. Thor goes from being a super strong being to one who suddenly can’t cope in the heat of battle. It’s not a long film but it’s hard to escape the feeling that it needed to be stretched to fit the 2 hour run time. I know Marvel would never release a film at 90 minutes long but this could have been much tighter and slicker.
One of the major things the film did get right was the ending. Okay, it’s quite a corny message but it has real emotional depth. Waititi has already proven that he can do depth and sentimentality in his comedy and this is another example of that. I’ve seen a lot of praise for Christian Bale’s Gorr as another sympathetic villain but, honestly, I don’t see it. He’s overshadowed by everything and Bale is clearly starring in a very different film to everyone else. There have been more forgettable villains in this franchise but Gorr isn’t one of the MCU’s greatest.
Of course, visually, he creates several stunning moments and Waititi’s use of colour is really astounding. This is film has moments of sophistication and stands out amongst some of the MCU’s other offerings. However, I don’t think it’s enough to make take it above Ragnarok. It just feels too similar. We’ve been there and it’s not as fresh. Still funny but not as consistently. I get that we’re dealing with more mature emotions but you didn’t need to go quite so silly to counteract that. It just gets a bit much.
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