Director Taika Waititi’s latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Thor franchise feature film, Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) (costing a whopping $250 million to make) opened last week to much fanfare — and less-than-stellar reviews from critics across the board, considering the hype.
Fans, however, seem to be lapping up the comedy-forward, gods-and-mythology-focused romp through space starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson), Natalie Portman (Dr. Jane Foster/Mighty Thor), and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) — screaming goats and all.
In a surprising twist, one of this year’s top-billed Marvel Cinematic Universe films Thor: Love and Thunder has received mediocre reviews, despite smashing it in the box office opening weekend, raking in $302 million internationally. As it stands, Thor: Love and Thunder does not rank highly at all among critics’ scores on review websites like RottenTomatoes.com.
The fourth Thor movie, Love and Thunder is not sitting so pretty at a 57% Metascore and 5.6 User Score on Metacritic, and 67% on the Tomatometer Critics’ Score at the time of writing, which also puts it as the third-lowest rated MCU film on the Rotten Tomatoes website.
Shockingly, among the all the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films — out of all 34 films — Thor: Love and Thunder is actually tied with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk (yes, it’s still technically in the MCU!). Directed by Louis Leterrier and starring Edward Norton as the eponymous Hulk (Dr. Bruce Banner), Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, and Tim Roth as antagonist Emil Blonsky (The Abomination), the oft-forgotten Hulk film has sat at a not-so-impressive 67% for quite some time and is often considered one of the weakest MCU movies to come out.
In comparison, Thor: Love and Thunder‘s direct predecessor, Thor: Ragnarok (2017) is Certified Fresh with an impressive critic score of 93% and an audience score of 87% — a far cry away from Love and Thunder‘s 67%. Taika Waititi’s latest is currently only 1% away from the second Thor film Alan Taylor-helmed Thor: The Dark World (2013), often considered the weakest of the series — which is currently at 66%.
The Dark World was often criticized for being forgettable, despite some of the humor brought in by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and the drama of the character’s subsequent “death”. Love and Thunder lacks the fan favorite actor to prop up its (albeit still impressive) cast list — even the likes of returning Natalie Portman, and newcomers Christian Bale (Gorr the God Butcher) and Russell Crowe (Zeus) giving stellar performances aren’t enough to create a spark for critics.
The worst Marvel Cinematic Universe film according to critics, though?
That distinct honor goes to Eternals (2021) directed by Marvel newcomer Chloé Zhao, crash-landing at a measly 47% — the lowest rating of any Marvel Cinematic Universe offering.
Eternals was panned for being confusing though ambitious. In comparison, Thor: Love and Thunder‘s Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus still calls it a “worthy addition to the MCU”:
In some ways, Thor: Love and Thunder feels like Ragnarok redux — but overall, it offers enough fast-paced fun to make this a worthy addition to the MCU.
Thor: Love and Thunder‘s main saving grace, however, may lie in its more general appeal — fans and audiences seem to really enjoy the galaxy-roving Thor adventure, with its 81% audience score a significant distance away from its 67% critic score.
Love and Thunder seems to be right up fans’ alleys, with trailers showing explosive rainbow colors, flying Viking ships, and a fun Guns N’ Roses-heavy score, the film certainly delivers its fair share of comedy (which some critique stated was “too much”), alongside trying to engender deep emotions in its audience.
Interestingly, the first critics’ reviews told a different story — where many were in fact praising the Taika Waititi film for being fun and different, some calling it the “best Thor” film yet, and even sobbing at the previews.
Overall, the audience score definitely gives the impression that Thor: Love and Thunder is Taika Waititi’s attempt to recapture the magic of Ragnarok, which still lands adequately for fans of the Thor tetralogy (quadrilogy?), as 81% is nothing to sniff at.
All of this begs the question: maybe Thor: Ragnarok’s overwhelming success set people’s bars a little too high?
The hype for the next big Thor outing perhaps resulted in the film overselling itself, leaving the film’s ratings frighteningly close to the bottom of the MCU barrel — right beside Incredible Hulk and only a smidge above Dark World.
Whether Disney decides to greenlight a Thor 5 though, might ultimately depend on how vocal fans are about a sequel — Waititi definitely seems up for it, provided Hemsworth comes along for the next big hammer-wielding ride.
What do you think of the criticisms aimed at Thor: Love and Thunder? Did you enjoy the movie? Share your thoughts down in the comments!
Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Love and Thunder premiered in theatres on July 8, 2022.
It stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster AKA Mighty Thor), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Christian Bale (Gorr the God Butcher), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Jaimie Alexander (Lady Sif), and Russell Crowe (Zeus).
The fourth instalment in the Thor franchise, Thor: Love and Thunder is directed by Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) and features Thor Odinson teaming up with new reigning monarch of New Asgard, King Valkyrie, along with his ex-girlfriend Dr. Jane Foster, who now wields the reformed magical hammer Mjolnir, becoming the Mighty Thor. Together, they try to take down Gorr the God Butcher, who is on a quest to rid the universe of any and all godly beings, as he believes that “all gods must die”.