“Thor: Love and Thunder” is out now (and streaming on Disney+) and has everything you’d expect from a Taika Waititi-helmed Marvel Studios adventure, once again starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (who debuted as Valkyrie in Waititi’s “Thor: Ragnarok”) – it’s got wild colors, crazy planets, more than a few big name cameo appearances and a fearsome bad guy whose agenda is actually understandable and deeply human.
But what does this entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe mean for the overall saga? And will we see the God of Thunder once again? We’ll break it all down for you – we’ll recap the rest of the movie and then break down the ending in truly excruciating detail.
Major spoilers for “Thor: Love and Thunder” follow. Do not read unless you’ve seen the movie! We mean it!
As “Thor: Love and Thunder” begins, he’s been with the Guardians of the Galaxy (led by Chris Pratt’s Star Lord) since the end of “Avengers: Endgame.” If you think that this will mean that the Guardians’ storyline is advancing, well, it’s not. They aren’t looking for Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) or dealing with the fallout of the last two Avengers movies. They’re just hopping around to different planets trying to help but mostly failing miserably. The Guardians are annoyed with Thor and leave him on a planet, to ponder his life some more.
Of course, his introspection is interrupted by Thor’s old friend Sif (Jamie Alexnader), who warns him of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), a cosmic evil who has a severe axe to grind with the powers that be after serving a deity that allowed for his daughter (India Hemsworth, Chris’ daughter, yes really) to die. Soon enough, Sif warns, he’ll be coming for New Asgard, the Norwegian fishing village and tourist destination presided over by Valkyrie.
Thor heads to New Asgard and gets the surprise of his life – his ex-flame Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has awoken his old hammer Mjolnir and given her the powers of Thor. Now known as the Mighty Thor, she protects New Asgard. But why does she have the powers? And why now? Well, that is something to discuss a little later. After Gorr attacks New Asgard, he makes off with the children of the village, leading Thor, Mighty Thor, Valkyrie and Korg (Waititi) to leave on a daring cosmic mission to retrieve them. But first, they need a little help from those above.
Oh My Gods
They need some weaponry … and some help, if possible. So the gang travels to Omnipotent City, where the gods from various realms congregate, overseen by Zeus himself (Russell Crowe, chewing scenery). Keep an eye out on the background during these sequences – we spotted the dragon god from “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” There must be other Easter eggs afoot in this sequence.
Long story short, Zeus is an A-hole, Thor impales him on his own lightning bolt (which Valkyrie then steals) and they head off to the Shadow Realm, where they believe Gorr is keeping the children. But – surprise! – the Shadow Realm is a big ruse. They have a very cool black-and-white action sequence but then Gorr steals Stormbreaker, Thor’s big axe that he got in “Avengers: Infinity War.” It turns out that Stormbreaker is the key to opening a portal to Eternity, a place where your wish can be granted. Gorr wants to wish away all the remaining gods, something that would throw the galaxy into chaos. But hey, he’s a bad guy. It’s what he does.
Beckoned by Eternity
On their journey, Thor learns how Jane got the powers of Thor: she was dying of cancer. And she realized that the powers could make her strong again. The only problem is that instead of prolonging her life, they actually shorten it each time she takes on the role of Thor. Thor orders her to stay home and go back to the hospital. And Valkyrie is injured. This means that Thor heads off to face down Gorr himself. Gorr, the evil villain who has killed countless gods across the cosmos. Should be easy enough.
Thor finds the children with Gorr at the ends of the universe. He gives them all the powers of Thor, which is a really wonderful sequence and an unbelievable amount of fun. Jane eventually joins Thor and together they take on Gorr. They break his evil, god-killing sword (in the comics it was connected to the symbiote, like Venom!) and convince Gorr that the thing that he wants isn’t to destroy all the gods but to revive his lost child, who is named Love. Gorr, who is dying, says that if he brings her back, there will be nobody to watch her. But Jane, who is also dying, says that there will be somebody to watch her – Thor. Both Jane and Gorr die.
In the final moments of the film, we see Thor and Love in a spaceship, bickering (she can apparently shoot lasers out of her eyes!), before grabbing their respective weapons (he now has Mjolnir again while she wields Stormbreaker) and heading off into battle. Across the galaxy they are now known as Love … and Thunder. Cute right?
But wait! There’s more!
In the first credits sequence, we see that Zeus has survived the lightning bolt to the chest thing. And he’s drafted his son, Hercules (Brett Goldstein), to avenge him, tasking him to hunt down and kill Thor. Exciting!
One more thing!
In the second credits sequence, we see Jane in Valhalla, the Viking afterlife. And that’s not all, we see Heimdall (Idris Elba), Thor’s old friend, who was executed by Thanos at the beginning of “Avengers: Infinity War.” It’s a lovely grace note for the end of the film, but it also opens up an intriguing possibility – is the afterlife one of the realms of the multiverse?
While the ending of the movie doesn’t fundamentally shift the MCU in any meaningful direction, beyond introducing a new character and potentially a new plane of existence, it is still lovely. What makes it even more interesting is the idea that so many MCU movies are about the lengths we go to save people – travel back in time, visit distant worlds – but “Thor: Love and Thunder” ends with the acceptance of not being able to save someone. It’s about the grace of letting go. And while all of the insanity of the rest of the movie might take up the most oxygen, it’s this sentiment that we’re left with as we’re exiting the theater.