Thor: Love and Thunder First Reviews: Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman Shine in Hilarious, Visually Striking Adventure

Critics say it isn't as fresh or satisfying as Ragnarok, but it has fun with romantic comedy tropes and offers a formidable villain in Christian Bale's Gorr.

by | July 5, 2022 | Comments

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If you loved what filmmaker Taika Waititi did for the MCU with Thor: Ragnarok, you’ll also enjoy Thor: Love and Thunder, according to the first reviews of the latest Marvel movie installment. Whether it’s better than its predecessor, though, is up for debate, as is the success of Love and Thunder’s emotional and romantic elements and the stakes of its story. Does it have one of the MCU’s better villains? Could it have done more with other characters? Should you stay past the credits? Find answers these questions and more to the tune of GNR’s “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”

Here’s what critics are saying about Thor: Love and Thunder:

Does it live up to the hype?

Thor: Love and Thunder was certainly up against high hopes. Thankfully, Thor’s fourth film more than meets these expectations. – Caitlin Chappell,

Love and Thunder wholeheartedly works to subvert expectations at essentially every single turn, and it becomes a more compelling, if slightly more disheveled, film because of it. – Jenna Anderson,

Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t as much fun as its trailers. But it’s close enough. – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

Considering the weight of expectations people have for this movie and how much they loved Thor: Ragnarok, there is a decent chance people will be let down. – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

How does it compare to Thor: Ragnarok?

Thor: Love and Thunder takes the Ragnarok formula and pushes it bigger and weirder than before. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Thor: Love and Thunder is a step-up from Thor: Ragnarok in terms of exhibition, wit, emotion, and maturity. – Lauren LaMagna, Next Best Picture

Love and Thunder is a far more emotional and, arguably, more satisfying story than its predecessor. – Rohan Patel,

Thor: Love and Thunder feels like it’s a bit more studied and considered in its approach. – Brian Lloyd,

If the thematic and narrative freight that occasionally pervades Ragnarok’s humor feels purposeful, Love and Thunder is flippant with no undergirding focus. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

Poster for Thor: Love and Thunder

(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)

Where does it rank against the other MCU movies?

Thor: Love and Thunder is a return to form for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

Thor: Love and Thunder is one of Marvel’s strongest films… It’s exactly what a superhero movie should be. – Lauren LaMagna, Next Best Picture

Thor: Love and Thunder is far from standard [MCU], and that’s a good thing. – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Thor: Love and Thunder is the most entertaining Phase 4 movie to date. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Thor: Love and Thunder is… one of the few bright spots in Marvel’s Phase IV Cinematic Universe. – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

Is it funny?

Funny as hell. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

Thor: Love and Thunder [is] a hilarious sequel that borders on slapstick. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

At its core is pure comedy that doesn’t always work but is good enough to entertain. – Valerie Complex, Deadline Hollywood Daily

Stumbles when it comes to bringing back — or trying to bring back — the flippant comedy that made Ragnarok stand out. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Photo by ©Marvel Studios 2022)

Is it romantic and moving?

As moving as it is funny. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

It’s essentially the MCU’s first romantic comedy and plays with those tropes in delightful ways. – Tom Jorgensen, IGN Movies

I was moved. Moved by how two Thors could come together to love each other and to save the universe. – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Portman and Hemsworth’s chemistry is delightful on-screen. – Therese Lacson, Collider

Hemsworth and Portman’s chemistry has never been better. – Rohan Patel,

Focused more on the “love” than the “thunder,” the reinsertion of Jane into the Thor storyline really dampens the party mood. – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

Hemsworth and Portman’s practically nonexistent chemistry is difficult not to notice… Love and Thunder sags under the weight of this rudderless romantic angle. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

When the time comes for the emotional beats, they never land quite as effectively as they should… You end up wanting to see more of [Jane and Valkyrie] together as their interactions are more engaging than the standard romance tropes of Jane and Thor. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

How are the visuals?

Thor: Love and Thunder is one of the most visually stunning movies in the MCU… The use of color, in particular, is jaw-dropping. – Caitlin Chappell,

Visually, the movie also stands out from most MCU offerings… It certainly delivers on spectacle. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

While the film isn’t as visually striking as Ragnarok, nor is it as revolutionary, the action and spectacle are as exciting and entertaining as ever. – Rohan Patel,

The CG environments are so expansive, and so garishly colorful, that it almost looks animated. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

The most baffling technical element of Love and Thunder might be its cinematography and CGI work, which bounce between extremes of being genuinely beautiful and being muddy. – Jenna Anderson,

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Photo by ©Marvel Studios 2022)

Is Taika Waititi still a perfect fit for the MCU?

Waititi’s vision for Thor is not just what the God of Thunder needs — it’s what the MCU needs, as he brings so much fun and heart to the big screen with Thor: Love and Thunder. – Caitlin Chappell,

In a way, this is even more purely his baby than the last one was, and it shows. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Waititi seems to be still finding his footing with this franchise, and it may take him directing another film to find the right balance for these Asgardian heroes. – Valerie Complex, Deadline Hollywood Daily

And how is the script?

Some of the movie’s best scenes essentially consist of two characters simply having a conversation. – Jenna Anderson,

More than most recent MCU movies, the screenplay by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson shows a crisis of imagination. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

The real issue comes down to the script, by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, which veers from dark and dour tragedy to glib, dismissive comedy often in the same scene. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

How is Chris Hemsworth this time?

He goes above and beyond… reminding us about everything we love about his Thor while also allowing the character to grow in an organic and incredibly exciting new direction. – Rohan Patel,

He embodies Thor Odinson at his silliest and saddest with an ease that still feels impressive after a decade-plus of him portraying the role. – Jenna Anderson,

Hemsworth is at his all-time best this round, navigating a minefield of comedy and emotional beats. It’s the star’s most nuanced take on Thor to date and evolves the hero. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

He’s having a good time, which is obvious on screen, and his enthusiasm and comedic timing remain on point. – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

Hemsworth is at his peak… Waititi offered him the chance to fully embrace the comedy that he is so good at and it flourishes even more in Love and Thunder. – Therese Lacson, Collider

And Natalie Portman’s return as Jane Foster?

Portman gives a performance of cut-glass wit and layered yearning. – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

The energy Portman brings is genuinely infectious and oddly cathartic in ways that will absolutely surprise audiences. – Jenna Anderson,

Portman brings an incredible amount of heart and grace to the film, along with plenty of Jane’s trademark goofiness… [she’s] exceedingly easy to love. – Rohan Patel,

Natalie Portman’s scene-stealing return as Dr. Jane Foster-turned-Mighty Thor is the highlight of Love and Thunder. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Photo by ©Marvel Studios 2022)

What about Christian Bale’s villain?

Marvel’s best villain since Thanos. He is astonishingly terrifying. – Lauren LaMagna, Next Best Picture

He upgrades this almost stock Marvel villain by sheer force of talent alone. He leans into not just his creepiness, but his pathos as well. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Bale delivers one of the best villains the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer… While his actions are horrific, Bale brings an empathy to Gorr. – Caitlin Chappell,

The way he delicately balances the sadness of Gorr’s past with his vengeful slaughter of Gorr’s present makes him exciting to watch. – Therese Lacson, Collider

Christian Bale’s Gorr feels underutilized. – Tom Jorgensen, IGN Movies

Christian Bale is criminally underutilized as Gorr, and we don’t get nearly enough of him. – Kaitlyn Booth, Bleeding Cool

Are there any other standouts?

Tessa Thompson continues to shine as King Valkyrie, and is a scene-stealer throughout, leaving us wanting more every time. – Rohan Patel,

Thompson’s turn as Valkyrie tops what was on display in Thor: Ragnarok… She should be the protagonist of her own swashbuckling, intergalactic pulp novel. – Caitlin Chappell,

The bulk of the humor comes from Russell Crowe…[in] a sequence unlike anything else the Academy Award-winning actor has ever done. – Lauren LaMagna, Next Best Picture

Russell Crowe’s arrogant showman take on Zeus is an exquisite farce and a standout, making a strong case for Gorr’s grudge against the gods. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

If any part of the movie is truly hilarious, it’s the scene with Zeus, and it’s because of Crowe. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)

Should we stay for the credits?

Be sure to stay to preview a surprise or two. – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

The post-credits sequence is one of Marvel’s most beautiful and poignant scenes ever. It’s the perfect capper to this particular blockbuster adventure. – Rohan Patel,

The two post-credits scenes are among the most satisfying in some time. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Thor: Love and Thunder opens in theaters on July 8, 2022.

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