Thor must stop Gorr, a grieving father bent on murdering all the Gods with the help of a cursed sword. Also, Natalie Portman returns as Jane, now suffering from terminal cancer, who becomes Lady Thor. Meanwhile, Thor’s new axe grows jealous of his old hammer while powering a pirate ship pulled by screaming goats.
If anything, writer-director Taika Waititi’s second Thor film proves just how delicate a tonal tightrope he walked with Thor: Ragnarok. That entry saw Thor lose his father, best friend, eye, and entire planet. Waititi set that dark drama against a humorous buddy picture pairing Thor with the Hulk. The result capped an arc begun in the first Thor film, with Thor maturing, accepting his destiny as leader, and facing tragedy with a brave face.
This entry aims for similar stakes. Jane is dying from cancer. Gorr places Thor and his friends in mortal danger. But these perils, introduced with no prior foreshadowing or sense in a greater arc, feel arbitrary. The opening resets Thor more-or-less to where he began Ragnarok, then attempts to retread similar ground. Besides undermining the prior film’s resonance, such lazy writing feels disingenuous.
As does introducing yet another magical wish-granting device. The Infinity Gauntlet worked because the films introduced it over time, seeding the parts as plot points of individual films before revealing its greater potential. Assembling the stones was an epic quest unto itself. This device, like the magic book in The Multiverse of Madness, feels too convenient. After all, if these devices exist, why bother assembling the Infinity Stones?
I know what you’re thinking. I’m being too critical of a comic book movie. Fair enough. After all, seeing Jane transform from a brittle cancer patient into a superhero was amazing, as were the fantastic battles between Gorr and the various exotic gods. Oh wait—all that happens off screen. Instead of seeing that, we get comedy. Lots of comedy, most centered on Thor being a buffoon. Much of it elicits laughter, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching the MCU version of Batman Forever.