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MCU: Why Thor Should Go Dark (Again)

Thor: Love and Thunder left the God of Thunder with a sense of finality, as he found his calling as a father. But just as it seemed that Thor’s MCU saga was wrapped, the familiar “THOR WILL RETURN” title card appeared on-screen. With the confirmation that Thor will star in another, MCU project, many wonder where he will go next. Even Chris Hemsworth himself has mentioned a desire to reinvent the character again, citing a two-movie cycle, “you look at Thor 1 and 2, they were quite similar. Ragnarok and Love and Thunder are similar.” If the actor/producer is to be believed, then Thor is about to undergo a drastic change again, and it should be towards a darker, more serious tone.

Deeper Stakes
India Rose Hemsworth Thor Love and Thunder
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Thor’s journey across phases one through four of the MCU brought dramatic gains and losses. Just between Thor: Ragnarok and Thor: Love and Thunder, the survivors of Asgard’s destruction were almost completely lost, Loki was killed, and Thor gave up his crown as King. Thor: Love and Thunder seeks to find a resting place for the character of Thor, as well as give Jane Foster her own “worthy” superhero storyline after two movies as a romantic interest. But Jane eventually dies too, and while Thor does have his newly-adopted daughter Love at the end of the movie, it is only natural for Thor to fear the possibility of losing whoever he has left, especially Love. Parenthood raises the stakes for any character, but coupled with the profound loss Thor has experienced, suddenly everything means so much more.

The familial angle deepens as Hercules, son of Zeus, was introduced in the post-credits scene of Thor: Love and Thunder. In the scene, Zeus commands his son to fell Thor, in order to make humans fear the gods again. If Hercules hunts down Thor in the sequel, he’ll have to face Thor’s daughter as well. While Love is said to be granted with the gifts of eternity, it isn’t outright shown that she’s immortal, just that she has laser eyes. While it’s safe to assume Marvel wouldn’t seriously hurt a child-aged character (sans erasing half of the universe, but they all came back), the threat towards Love has the potential to make the lively action of the Thor series turn deadly serious.

Related: Love and Thunder: Was Christian Bale’s Chance in the MCU Wasted?

Played-Out Humor
Thor Love and Thunder Splits
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Thor: Ragnarok completely reinvented Chris Hemsworth’s version of Thor, shifting him from a Shakespearean prince to a slightly-doofy, lovable adventurer. This has largely been credited to Ragnarok Co-Writer/Director Taika Watiti, who brought his irreverent tone of humor from his comedies like What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and slapped it onto the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it largely worked, with most reviews of Thor: Ragnarok, highlighting the sense of renewed vitality that the comedic tone brought.

When a sequel was announced with Taika returning, it was safely assumed that the comedic tone of Ragnarok would be returning as well. And while Thor: Love and Thunder did shift the series even further into a comedy, it did not do so as successfully as Ragnarok did. The movie has been derided for its shift into a full-blown comedy, which undermined the stakes of the action, and screaming goats.

It’s also no coincidence that Chris Hemsworth became a more comedic Thor at the same time he became a more comedic actor. This shift came after Hemsworth was praised for his performances in comedy movies like Vacation (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016). Hemsworth has since re-committed himself to dramatic works, which suggests a similar change in direction for Thor. Hemsworth went back to his more serious action roots with the 2020 Netflix hit Extraction, and received high marks for his portrayal as a twisted tech visionary in Spiderhead (2022).

Related: Chris Hemsworth Shares Never-Before-Seen Thor Footage

“Gorr Was Right”
Gorr in Thor Love and Thunder
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
While Gorr only appeared in less than 15 comics before he died, his victory over Thor was delayed, and much more long-lasting. Midway through Jason Aaron’s run on the Thor comic (the main inspiration for Love and Thunder), and well after Gorr’s defeat, Nick Fury whispers a sentence into Thor’s ear, which causes Mjorlnir to immediately become too heavy for Thor to lift. It is eventually revealed that Fury said, “Gorr was Right”, confirming the doubts in Thor’s minds that the gods do not deserve ultimate praise and power, which caused Odin’s enchantment to make the hammer un-liftable. This doesn’t create a physical enemy for Thor, but an internal one; something that must be reckoned with and overcome if he is to be able to regain his hammer. Thor even relinquishes his own name, either going by “Odinson” or more famously, “The Unworthy Thor”. This is a dramatic turn that would be perfect for Hemsworth’s Thor, throwing the character into a sense of turmoil and self-doubt he hasn’t yet experienced.

One issue with this direction may be that Thor did not seem to doubt the omnipotence of the other gods in Thor: Love and Thunder, and only wanted to protect them. However, the death of Jane Foster could still fuel Thor’s thoughts of unworthiness, as he reckons with the passing of a human that proved themselves godly. The unworthy Thor’s quest for a new weapon also led him to cross paths with Beta Ray Bill, a fan-loved character that has yet to appear in the MCU. Thor began his journey in the MCU by proving his worthiness, and could end it by doing the same.

If there is one thing consistent about the MCU’s Thor and his movies, it is that they change. An arrogant prince, with bleached eyebrows and speaking in iambic pentameter, can be recast into a lighthearted, friendly superhero, all without changing the actor. And if Thor and Chris Hemsworth are to return, they will need to change again, and this time in a way that follows both the character’s natural trajectory, and the actor/producer’s shifting career.


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