When “Thor: Ragnorak” came out in 2017, it was a massive breath of fresh air for the star character. The lightning god’s first two solo movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were widely agreed to be some of its weakest, most forgettable entries, so it was a nice surprise for his third film to turn out to be fun, exciting, and genuinely well-done. It was so good that nobody was surprised when writer and director Taikia Waititi was hired back to make Thor’s fourth solo film, “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
When asked in an interview with Indie Wire how his experience changed between movies, Waititi answered that making his second Thor was actually harder than the first. “I put everything into ‘Ragnarok,’ thinking that Marvel only makes three films per superhero so there wouldn’t be another one,” he explained. To Waititi’s surprise, Marvel picked up on how beloved the movie was and immediately asked him to make another one. “I had to come up with all these new ideas to try and make something as good if not better than the last one.”
The fact that Waititi put all his ideas into “Ragnorak” makes sense considering, well, how much better it is than “Love and Thunder.” Not only were the jokes sharper the whole way through, but Thor himself had a character arc that felt fresh and compelling. “Ragnorak” was all about taking away the stuff Thor took for granted — stuff like his hammer, or his eye — and seeing if he could still be a hero without them. As silly as the MCU movie was, the stakes felt real and it still had an interesting journey for Thor to go on.
“Thor: Love and Thunder,” meanwhile, felt like two hours of fluff. It had a strong villain, but it didn’t do much with him. It also featured a promising storyline for Jane (Natalie Portman), and didn’t do too much with her either. Thor himself felt like an aimless character; he didn’t really seem to have any strong goals, and the stakes for him never felt particularly high. The conclusion, where he adopts a girl and they became a father-daughter superhero duo, feels like it comes out of nowhere.
“Immediately we thought that we should make him go through a midlife crisis to figure out his path at this time in his life,” Waititi said about the film. To an extent it seems like he succeeded: “Love and Thunder” feels like the Thor series itself is having a midlife crisis. It’s an MCU movie that, more than anything, lacks a proper sense of identity or direction
We don’t know if Waititi will be back to make Thor 5, if there is one, but the fact that Hemsworth has said he’d prefer the next Thor movie to have a radical shift in tone indicates that Waititi’s return is unlikely. And honestly, that’s probably for the best. We know from “Jojo Rabbit” and “Our Flag Means Death” that Waititi’s great at projects he has a passion for, and if “Love and Thunder” is anything to go by, it seems like his passion for Thor has run out.