It was without quite understanding why fans discovered, in “Thor: Ragnarok”, that the hero no longer wanted to know about his girlfriend Jane Foster. Of course, the reasons for the romance’s demise didn’t stem from a narrative choice – Natalie Portman just didn’t seem willing to be stuck with the plethora of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But if in “Avengers: Endgame” the editors had to recreate the character from material left over from the first two “Thor” films, now she makes a triumphant return to the saga with “Thor: Love and Thunder”, which hits theaters this week.
That’s because, from the superhero’s girlfriend, she became the great heroine of the plot. Not that the muscular blonde played by Chris Hemsworth has lost importance, but here the ex-lovers are on equal footing. All thanks to director and screenwriter Taika Waititi, who was given freedom by Disney to make the film whatever he wanted after making “Ragnarok” a hit.
It was in this way that he convinced Portman to return on the promise that women would be in the spotlight in this new chapter of the saga. She and Tessa Thompson, interpreter of Valkyrie, end up starring in the great moments of “Love and Thunder”, with the latter unfolding in political leader, savior of humanity and romantic heroine.
“The Valkyrie, in this film, is better resolved. Before, I won’t deny it, it was difficult to adjust to Taika’s ideas, because the character was going through a moment of grief, pain and anger, with no room for humor”, he says. Thompson.
From previous films, Valkyrie inherited a desolate realm of Asgard, which had to settle in Norway after its interplanetary home was destroyed. In “Love and Thunder”, she is the king of New Asgard, while Thor is traveling through space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. When the brawn discovers that a new god-slaying villain –Gorr, played by Christian Bale– is causing a killing spree, he returns to Earth.
There, however, he discovers that his ex has managed to rebuild Mjolnir, the legendary hammer that was once responsible for granting him powers, and she now wields it as a superhero, the Mighty Thor. In their first reunion, a frantic action scene, the two find time to have a DR, and the audience finally understands that the simple strain on their relationship is what drove them apart.
It’s in a scene worthy of sugary romance novels that we see how Thor and Jane drifted apart, stopped prioritizing each other and, finally, broke up suddenly – but not without silencing their feelings.
In this way, “Love and Thunder” ended up becoming, at least partially, a romantic comedy, which recycles eccentric elements and slapstick humor that Waititi has spread throughout his work – there are echoes ranging from the vampire “What We Do in the Shadows” to “Jojo Rabbit”, with its good-natured characters and latent sentimentality.
To give the story an air of authenticity, the filmmaker also delved into influences from the 1980s and 1990s, from the rocker aesthetic to the soundtrack, packed with hits ranging from Abba’s “Our Last Summer”, to “Paradise City” and ” Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses.
“Taika’s imagination dove into this ’80s mood, which made a lot of sense for his directing style, but also to rescue something that I think Hollywood lost. I mean, in the 1980s and 1990s, the industry was more inclined to make very straightforward romantic comedies that intensely explored the grace, innocence and pain of falling in love,” Thompson says.
It’s not just the romance of Thor and Jane Foster that gains ground in “Love and Thunder”. Valkyrie herself, finally, had her bisexuality wide open after Thompson strongly advocated for the heroine to come out of the closet.
In the new feature, she grieves over the death of an old girlfriend and says she is looking for a new companion. Korg, a stony character who has the voice of Waititi himself, is another one who recalls a love story with a man.
“I feel amazing about it. It’s a cause I’ve been fighting for and I think it’s really exciting that we can have these films exploring these spaces, because it has a huge impact on a lot of people,” says the actress. “Before, Valkyrie’s sexuality didn’t have an organic space to appear, after all, she is not defined only by who she loves and how she loves it. Now, this part of her presented itself in a natural way.”
It took a lot of people on social media sharing the comments and theories about Valkyrie’s sexuality for Disney to realize that making her heart’s desires explicit could be a good idea.
In this way, Hemsworth was losing ground in “Love and Thunder” to a greater female role. Her big scene, ironically, is more a grace of the script than something that changes the course of the story.
Concerned about the string of divine murders Gorr has been committing, Thor attends an assembly where gods from all manner of mythology and religion gather. It is with pomp and a lot of narcissism that Russell Crowe appears as Zeus, the almighty of Ancient Greece, juggling his lightning bolts and flirting with a harem of beautiful women around him.
He doesn’t care what the god of Norse mythology has to say and, in a fit of rage, strips the character of all clothes. Thor then gives the audience the first nude scene in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With his thick, statuesque arms held in glittering chains, he glares defiantly at Zeus and draws sighs from the young men and women who fawn over the Greek. The long blond hair ends in a series of tattoos, which in turn guide the eyes to the round buttocks of the great Thor. Of course, it’s not a full-frontal nude scene, after all, this is still a Disney movie.
“But it was great. Great to see in person, great to see on screen. I have no complaints,” jokes Thompson, when talking about what it was like shooting the scene. “I work hard to have more male nudity on screen, this is also a form of representation that we need to see more of.”