Thor Love and Thunder is a 2022 American superhero film based on Marvel Comics featuring the character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Taika Waititi, who co-wrote the script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, and stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor alongside Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Waititi, Russell Crowe, and Natalie Portman. In the film, Thor attempts to find inner peace, but must return to action and recruit Valkyrie (Thompson), Korg (Waititi), and Jane Foster (Portman) who is now the Mighty Thor to stop Gorr the God Butcher (Bale) from eliminating all gods.
Hemsworth and Waititi had discussed plans for a sequel to Ragnarok by January 2018. Love and Thunder was announced in July 2019, with Hemsworth, Waititi, and Thompson all set to return, as well as Portman who did not appear in Ragnarok. Waititi wanted to differentiate Love and Thunder from Ragnarok, seeking to make a romance film and 1980s-inspired adventure. He adapted elements from Jason Aaron’s run on the Mighty Thor comic book, which sees Foster take on the mantle and powers of Thor whilst under treatment for cancer. Robinson joined to contribute to the script in February 2020, and further casting was revealed later that year including the appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Production was expected to begin in late 2020 but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming ultimately began in January 2021 in Sydney, Australia, and concluded at the beginning of June.
Thor: Love and Thunder premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on June 23, 2022, and was released in the United States on July 8, as part of Phase Four of the MCU. The film received praise from critics for its light-hearted nature, and the performances of Bale and Portman, while criticism was aimed at the screenplay and tonal inconsistency, with many critics deeming the film inferior to Ragnarok. Love and Thunder has grossed over $756 million worldwide, becoming the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2022.
Shortly after the release of the third Thor film, Thor: Ragnarok, in November 2017, that film’s director Taika Waititi and executives from Marvel Studios met to discuss ideas for another film, which was green-lit following the positive responses to Ragnarok. Chris Hemsworth indicated in January 2018 that he was interested in continuing to play Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), despite his contract with Marvel Studios being set to end with his role in Avengers: Endgame (2019). By then, Hemsworth and Waititi had discussed what they would want in a potential fourth Thor film, and Hemsworth said a month later that he would consider returning if there was “another great script”. Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie in the MCU films, believed in April 2019 that a pitch had been made for a Ragnarok sequel that involved Waititi returning. Hemsworth said then that he would continue to play Thor for as long as possible, crediting Waititi with revitalizing his interest in the role after he became exhausted and underwhelmed with it prior to making Ragnarok.
In July 2019, Waititi officially signed on to write and direct a fourth Thor film, with Hemsworth expected to reprise his role. Waititi was not interested in repeating what they did with Ragnarok, instead wanting to do “something more interesting for myself to keep the whole thing ignited and to make sure that I’m feeling creatively stimulated”. Later that month, at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced the film as Thor: Love and Thunder, with a release date of November 5, 2021. Hemsworth and Thompson were confirmed to be returning along with Natalie Portman, reprising her role of Jane Foster from Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013). Portman agreed to return to the franchise, after her character was not included in Ragnarok, following a single meeting with Waititi, who was given creative freedom from Marvel Studios to reimagine her role in the film, in which he offered to portray the character in a different and fresh way, with a “license to be adventurous and fun and funny”. Thompson and Feige added that Valkyrie’s bisexuality would be addressed in the sequel, retroactively making her Marvel Studios’ first LGBTQ superhero. Marvel Studios executive Brad Winderbaum was producing the film alongside Feige. Hemsworth, who also serves as an executive producer on Love and Thunder, was paid $20 million to star in the film, an increase from the $15 million salary he earned for each of his appearances in Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Endgame.
Don Harwin, the Minister for the Arts for the Australian state of New South Wales, announced at the end of July that Thor: Love and Thunder would be filmed at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney back-to-back with Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), with work set to begin on Love and Thunder there in March 2020 ahead of an August 2020 filming start. The production was set to receive over AU$24 million (US$18 million) of subsidies from the Australian and New South Wales governments. Marvel Studios vice president David Grant said shooting the two films back-to-back would provide continuous employment for local crews, with Love and Thunder expected to generate over AU$178 million (US$134 million) for the local economy. He added that the studio would work with “local educational institutions in creating internship opportunities”. Jeff Goldblum said in August 2019 that there was a chance he could reprise his Ragnarok role of the Grandmaster in the sequel, and Waititi confirmed in October that he would be reprising his own role of Korg from Ragnarok and Endgame. Christian Bale entered talks to join the cast in January 2020, with pre-production expected to begin in April. Thompson confirmed a month later that Bale would star as the villain in the film, while Vin Diesel, who voices Groot in the MCU films, said he had discussed the film with Waititi and had been told the Guardians of the Galaxy would be appearing in it. In early April, Disney shifted much of their Phase Four slate of films due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moving Thor: Love and Thunder‘s release date to February 18, 2022. Pre-production on the film was delayed due to the pandemic, with Waititi unsure when production would continue. At the end of the month, Disney moved the release date up to February 11, 2022. By July, filming was set to start in early 2021.
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor:
An Avenger and the former king of Asgard, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name. Director Taika Waititi said that Thor is going through a midlife crisis in the film, as he is “just trying to figure out his purpose, trying to figure out exactly who he is and why he’s a hero or whether he should be a hero”. Hemsworth’s twin sons Sasha and Tristan portray Thor as a child.
- Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher:
A scarred wielder of the Necrosword and manipulator of shadows who seeks the extinction of the gods. Waititi described Gorr as being “very formidable” and layered. Bale felt the character had a “sort of a Nosferatu slight attitude”, and took inspiration from the Aphex Twin music video for “Come to Daddy” (1997). Waititi opted to change Gorr’s facial features in the film since his original look in the comics resembles Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter film series.
- Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie:
The king of New Asgard, based on the mythological being Brynhildr. Thompson and producer Kevin Feige said the character’s bisexuality would be addressed in the film. Waititi said Valkyrie had to adjust to the bureaucratic aspects of ruling, away from the battlefield, such as dealing with the infrastructure and economy of New Asgard and hosting delegates from other countries.
- Jaimie Alexander as Sif: An Asgardian warrior and Thor’s childhood friend, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.
- Taika Waititi as Korg: A Kronan gladiator who befriended Thor. Waititi also voices the Kronan god Ninny of the Nonny.
- Russell Crowe as Zeus:
The king of the Olympians, based on the Greek mythological deity of the same name. Crowe wanted to perform the role in a Greek accent, but Waititi thought it would sound “too silly”, so he had Crowe do takes in both a Greek and British accent. Waititi finally concluded that Crowe was correct and used the Greek accent in the final film.
- Natalie Portman as Jane Foster / Mighty Thor:
An astrophysicist and Thor’s ex-girlfriend who is undergoing cancer treatment and who gains powers to become the Mighty Thor by wielding a reconstructed Mjolnir, the hammer previously wielded by Thor. Portman, who did not appear in the previous film Thor: Ragnarok (2017), agreed to return after a meeting with Waititi, who said Foster’s return to Thor’s life after eight years would be a big adjustment for him since she has had another life without him. Waititi added that Foster showing up dressed like Thor would be a “real mindfuck” for him.
Thor: Love and Thunder premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on June 23, 2022. The film was theatrically released in Australia on July 6, 2022, in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand on July 7, and in the United States on July 8, 2022, in 4DX, RealD 3D, IMAX, ScreenX, and Dolby Cinema. It was previously set for release on November 5, 2021, but was delayed to February 18, 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then moved up a week to February 11 once Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was rescheduled from November 2021 to March 2022, and delayed once again to May 6, 2022, in December 2020, before shifting to the July 2022 date in October 2021. It is part of Phase Four of the MCU. The El Capitan Theatre hosted two sensory inclusive screenings of the film in July 2022, featuring expedited check in, a “calming” lobby, reduced capacity, and gift bags for guests with items to aid with anxiety.
The film was not released in Malaysia, Brunei, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Variety reported that the Malaysian release did not happen because Disney refused to make cuts to the film requested by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia. The Malaysian government confirmed that this was due to LGBT elements not being cut from the film.
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