‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Reviews: Critics Enjoy Taika Waititi’s ‘Surface Pleasures,’ But Question Its Place in the MCU

The continued lack of a big picture connection is starting to wear on some

Thor Odinson becomes the first MCU hero to headline four solo films with the arrival this week of “Thor: Love and Thunder.” But for critics, the “love” is in short supply.

That’s not to say the film isn’t enjoyable. Many early reviews point out that director and co-writer Taika Waititi’s humor remains as strong as it was in “Thor: Ragnarok.” But the struggle to see where this film fits in with the ongoing story of the MCU at large is hard to overlook.

As TheWrap’s own Alonso Duralde writes, “Love and Thunder” contains “many of the surface pleasures of an MCU movie but also a nagging sensation that none of this quite works.”

“Similar to ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ and ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ before it, ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ [is] an excellent example of Marvel still not being quite sure how to pick up ongoing narratives that get interrupted by massive crossover events,” The Verge’s Charles Pulliam-Moore writes. “‘Love and Thunder’ clearly wants to keep its focus fixed on Thor, who hasn’t headlined his own film since 2017. But so much has happened within the MCU since then that [its] ability to create a cohesive and compelling sense of shared continuity with its predecessors is initially limited.’”

Similar to recent MCU installments, “Thor: Love and Thunder” runs more than two hours. And for critics, the runtime itself isn’t the problem, so much as the pacing of it.

“The way it utilizes that run time borders on erratic,” ComicBook.com’s Jenna Anderson says. “Some gags stretch on for a little too long, while some key emotional moments feel like they need one more scene to really “work.”

Of course, the appreciation for Christian Bale as Thor’s adversary Gorr the God Butcher is just about unanimous. For most, the zealot is similar to Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) of “Black Panther” in the “he’s not wrong but he’s not acting right” sense, with critics praising how grounded and non-campy Bale’s portrayal is.

“Bale is so creepy and so committed that you can feel his hatred melt your popcorn,” AP’s Mark Kennedy writes.

Others praise the continued chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman as Thor and Mighty Thor/Jane Foster respectively, and the lovability that Tessa Thompson and Waititi bring as Valkyrie and Korg.

TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde continues to sum it up as such: “I didn’t leave “Thor: Love and Thunder” feeling annoyed — Waititi and Team Marvel are too shrewd as showpeople not to keep the pace lively and the scope massive — but it falls far short of the best of the franchise.”

Following the early reviews, “Thor: Love and Thunder” sits at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, from 78 critics.