Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest iteration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a continuation of the adventures of the God of Thunder played by Chris Hemsworth with Taika Waititi, who directed 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, co-starring as the rock creature Korg and returning to the director’s chair. Also returning is Natalie Portman who plays Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest from the first two Thor films.

Thor: Love and Thunder picks up the titular hero after the events of Avengers: Endgame where Thor joins the Guardians of the Galaxy, and after a brief sequence with that franchise’s heroes, the plot introduces the villain of this film, played by Christian Bale. Gorr the God Butcher is on a mission to kill all the old gods, and Thor, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Jane must team up in order to defeat him. Meanwhile, Jane is diagnosed with stage four cancer, which is a story line that is taken from the comic books, and while she wields Mjölnir she becomes a healthy Asgardian superhero rather than a sick human.

Thor: Love and Thunder‘s fast-paced action and humor, which was first infused in the character’s ethos in Thor: Ragnarok, make this latest MCU effort a comic book movie in every sense. It’s bright, quick-witted spectacle that rests on the formidable comic talents of Hemsworth and Waititi as well as a quick section with Russell Crowe’s Zeus. 

But like Thor: RagnarokThor: Love and Thunder is much deeper than it seems. The humor obfuscates some real questions about how and where we put our faith and emotional energy. For the film’s villain, the institutions of the gods and left him alone and lost, and Thor’s history in Asgard was similarly disappointing. Ultimately, Thor: Love and Thunder says the most fruitful conclusion is to put faith in each other. At its core, Thor: Love and Thunder is about love as much as the God of Thunder.

These deep themes within the accessible genre of a comic book movie are undercut by a bad third act, one that solves too many problems too quickly and has larger implications of inconsistency in the MCU (why didn’t Thanos pursue the same end that Gorr does?). There is also some sloppily written character work between Thor and Jane at the end; specifying the relationship conflicts could have led to a moving emotional climax. In the end, the film’s comments on the connection between love and loss aren’t as well-formed as the rest, and Thor’s final moments feel too pat and convenient, unworthy of the complexity that came before.

I was about to enthusiastically recommend this movie before the third act, but the third act’s storytelling stripped the “enthusiastically” from my recommendation. Better than some of the other films in the MCU’s fourth phase, Thor: Love and Thunder lands as a mid-level Marvel film. 

Three out of five stars.