Decision Behind Disney Pulling ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Out of Country’s Theaters Revealed

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Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)

Credit: Marvel Studios

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) may be one of Marvel Studios’ most-poorly reviewed films to date, but that hasn’t stopped director Taika Waititi’s follow-up to his highly-acclaimed Thor: Ragnarok (2017) from hitting $700 million worldwide and topping the Thor franchise as the most commercially successful.

However, the cancelation of the movie’s release in various territories, notably China, has left the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie out of potentially millions. With The Walt Disney Company pulling the release of the fourth Thor installment from Malaysia just last month, it has now been made clear why the movie was not allowed to be distributed.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Love and Thunder looking at Falligar
Credit: Marvel Studios

Waititi’s second outing at the helm of a Thor feature film was much-anticipated. Not just for the director’s trademark comedy and all-around goofy reboot of Thor Odinson, played by a very capable and dynamic Chris Hemsworth, but the return of Natalie Portman as Dr. Jane Foster/Mighty Thor, and the debut of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) and Zeus (Russell Crowe).

Thor: Love and Thunder caught audiences up on Thor’s adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy post-Avengers: Endgame (2019), before drawing the Asgardian into a plot surrounding the universe-wide attacks on Gods and teaming him up once more with King of New Asgard, King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Portman’s Mighty Thor, and Waititi’s Korg.

Christian Bale as Gorr
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: ‘Thor 5’ Increasingly Unlikely After Recent Update

While not explicitly leaning into portraying LGBTQ+ characters in the way Chloé Zhao’s Eternals (2021) did, Thor: Love and Thunder did explore the romantic nature of both Thompson’s Valkyrie and the male/male Kronan baby-making ritual described and performed by Korg. The involvement of LGBTQ+ content has seen Thor: Love and Thunder, like other Marvel Comics-inspired MCU projects, shut out of multiple territories including China, Kuwait, and Malaysia.

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
Credit: Marvel Studios

Movie theaters in Malaysia previously gave updates on the situation of Thor 4’s release, and the LPF’s (Malaysia’s movie distribution authority) reported stance on the situation. Now an answer has been given by the country’s Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin. They said (via Variety):

Recently there was a film that did not pass censorship, that is the new ‘Thor’ film. [The movie] touched on LGBT but we see right now there are many films with LGBT elements that slip past the censorship.”

Thor winking at Valkyrie and Mighty Thor
Credit: Marvel Studios

Variety reports:

Zahidi said that government and the religious department (correctly known as Islamic Affairs Department or JAKIM), were committed to curtailing the spread of LGBT culture in the country. He blamed foreign elements for the problem, claimed that LGBT films were becoming more subtle in their methods and asked for public vigilance.

Abidin continued:

“I am frustrated because the outside world was the one promoting LGBT”

He added that the government was always engaged in monitoring movie and social media platforms for LGBTQ+ content, saying they “would take severe action against individuals found promoting such elements.”

natailie portman (left) as jane foster and chris hemsworth (right) as thor gazing at each other in thor: love and thunder
Credit: Marvel Studios

As Variety notes:

Malaysia’s federal penal code criminalizes consensual all same-sex relations. Those found guilty face a prison sentence of up to 20 years and mandatory whipping.

Likewise, Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Lightyear (2022), also suffered a non-release in many territories for the inclusion of a same-sex couple in one of the scenes of the Toy Story franchise spinoff. While it is a financial hit for The Walt Disney Company, the Mouse House’s stance on not altering content to fit another country’s politics is a commendable action.

Uzo Aduba as Hawthorne
Credit: Pixar Animation / Disney

Related: ‘Lightyear’ Director Lashes Out at Fans Following Box Office Failures

Thor: Love and Thunder also stars Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Vin Diesel (Groot), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Sean Gunn (Kraglin Obfonteri), Jaimie Alexander (Lady Sif), Idris Elba (Heimdall), and Brett Goldstein as MCU newcomer, Hercules.

Luke Hemsworth, Matt Damon, Sam Neill, and Melissa McCarthy also starred as actor Thor, actor Loki, actor Odin, and actor Hela, respectively.

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