“He’s right behind me, isn’t he?”
We all know this exact scene. We’ve seen it play out in hundreds of movies. One character is discussing a plan or making fun of someone and — lo and behold — the character they didn’t want to hear their discussion was right behind them the whole time.
Ah yes. Peak comedy.
If you roll your eyes during these scenes as often as I do, then you’ve probably noticed that this example of lazy writing has wormed its way into a majority of comic book movies, a prime example being Marvel’s July 2022 box office hit “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
Generally, superhero movies should draw from their source material: comics. Comics are known for being campy and a little cheesy, but the movies they’re based on need to be more than that to really stand out.
Unfortunately, Thor 4 — like most comic book movies — doesn’t clear the bar. Advertised as a wholesome drama, fans are led to believe that Thor is on a journey to find himself after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” He faces a new threat, Gorr the God Butcher, who’s been deeply hurt by a sun god. Gorr belonged to a people who deeply worshiped this god, but were left to starve when they needed him the most. Thor’s goal is to stop Gorr’s god masacre — and hopefully find himself along the way.
As a long time Marvel fan, I was over the moon for this concept. A comic book movie? With a serious plot? When can I buy tickets? Am I sweating right now?
If a movie can make me feel something — whether that’s joy, sadness, or disgust — I consider it well made.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” just made me disappointed.
Advertised as a drama, this movie took every opportunity to make a joke.
Take Thor’s carriage, for example. There’s nothing inherently offensive about a carriage piloted by two goats in a comic book movie. But the devil’s in the details. Those two goats made me want to rip my hair out after what felt like their 23rd imitation of the famed “goat scream” meme from the early 2000s.
Not only did the humor fall flat in this movie, but world-renowned actor Christian Bale was criminally underused. He played Gorr, but was ultimately cast aside after the end of act I. Rather, the A-list actor’s talents were replaced with empty comedy. (Cue the screaming goats and empty action sequences.)
Slapstick comedy and limited use of Bale ultimately made this movie lose sight of its endgame. Thor “found himself” by adopting a child, and Gorr’s story came to an end with no justice done for his character.
Fictional movies are supposed to transport you into their world and cause you to suspend disbelief. Part of suspending disbelief is having decent special effects, especially for superhero movies. If you think a multi-billion dollar company such as Marvel Comics would have acceptable special effects, you’d be mistaken. “Thor: Love and Thunder” uses a plethora of sub-par special effects to the point where the viewer feels a severe lack of engagement.
The CGI truly fell flat towards the end of the film where Thor is speaking to Axel, the son of his deceased friend, Heimdall. Axel can project his consciousness to Thor even if he’s miles away from him, and he does just that. Unfortunately, Axel’s consciousness is depicted as a floating head that looks like it was cropped on an iPhone 5.
It’d be one thing if Thor 4 was some sort of anomaly, but it’s not. Other recent superhero movies like “Captain Marvel,” “Shazam,” “Ant Man and the Wasp” and many others have been plagued by cliche writing, lazy humor and bad CGI.
Most great films have three things in common: a concise plot, something to say and a well-written script that makes the audience feel anything other than disappointment or boredom. Comic book movies are meant to be silly, but as stand-alone films they fail to invoke any sort of emotion in their audiences which causes them to fall flat.
Dylan Greco is the opinion editor and can be reached at email@example.com