I was not a fan of the first two Thor films, but went because I was a fan of Tom Hiddleston. Yet Taika Waititi’s 2017 “Thor: Ragnarok” has so much humor and highlighted star Chris Hemsworth’s comedic talents that I changed my mind about Hemsworth’s Thor so I was looking forward to this Thor even without Hiddleston’s Loki. “Thor: Love and Thunder” is by far the best Thor film yet and I do hope Thor will return and I wouldn’t mind a reunion with Loki.
This is the story of Space Vikings as told by the simple-minded but good-hearted Kronan gladiator Korg (Waititi) who tells a group of children, “Come gather round to listen to the tale of the Space Viking.” Thor met Korg during his gladiator days (“Thor: Ragnarok”) and adopted him as his new sidekick, but before we get to Thor (Hemsworth), the audience is introduced to a desperate couple–a man and his daughter. They are wandering through a desert wasteland of white parched and cracked clay. The man and the girl have skin seemingly covered with the white, chalky powder of this desert. Their clothes are tattered and the sun has seemingly bleached all the joy of color from them. It’s as if they recently emerged from the clay of their earth or are ready to rejoin it. The man prays, but his prayers are not answered in time. His child dies; he buries her. Soon after, the man finds an oasis that he thinks is his eternal reward and he meets his “god.”
When he tells his “god,” “There’s no one left to worship you,” his “god” replies, “Suffering for your gods is your only purpose.” And the god assures him that even with his death, this god will easily find more followers. Angered, the man finds a sword, the Necrosword, that magically appears before him. Not thinking that one should take care of things that suddenly appear, the man, Gorr (Christian Bale), makes a vow: All gods will die and he will kill them using the Necrosword, a weapon that can fatally wound the immortal gods.
Thor is going through a midlife crisis, trying to figure out his purpose in life and why he’s a hero. He has been searching for inner peace, but he remains somewhat clueless about the reality of the people he deals with. He’s often more like a clumsy good-hearted Golden Retriever that has lost its puppy physical awkwardness but not yet gained mature insight into life and the needs of others. Thor has been riding along with the Guardians of the Galaxy : Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Nebula (Karen Gillian), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper), having left behind the destroyed Asgard and even the New Asgard.
Thor hasn’t seen Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) for eight years (eight years, seven months and six days, but who’s counting?), after they broke up and Korg explains what tore them apart. There was a world to save–It’s hard to refuse a call from Nick Fury. And then there was that troublesome brother of another mother, Loki.
Now Jane is being treated for stage 4 cancer, when she hears the call of Thor’s shattered hammer Mjolnir. According to legend, the hammer can give the bearer good health. To find the hammer, Jane doesn’t have to find her ex-boyfriend. Remember, in “Thor:Ragnarok,” Thor’s older sister, Hela, shattered Thor’s hammer and tore Thor’s family and posse apart. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is the king of New Asgard, but her duties are mainly bureaucratic and boring. New Asgard isn’t a training place for warriors, but a haven for the gods and their children to survived as well as a place for tourists. There’s a play that reenacts the events with an Actor Loki (Matt Damon), Actor Thor (Luke Hemsworth) and Actor Bela (Melissa McCarthy).
Jane joins a tour group and stays behind to look at the display the fragments of Mjolnir. The fragments begins to vibrate and the pieces suddenly come together. And Jane becomes the new Thor.
The old Thor isn’t without a weapon. He has a new weapon: Stormbreaker, but it isn’t the same. And following the advice of Star Lord, Thor seeks love and ends up in New Asgard, meeting his ex-girlfriend and his ex-weapon, and at times, it is hard to discern which he misses more. If jealousy adds spice to a relationship, Stormbreaker is a bit jealous of Mjolnir.
Thor, with Jane, Korg and Valkyrie, decide they need to appeal to the Council of Gods, headed by Zeus (Russell Crowe), who is more despotic, and post-hipster aging party animal, than commanding and majestic lord. Instead of Hera/Juno, Zeus is attended to by the Zeusettes–this is really how they are listed. Thor, after a revealing scene, literally steals Zeus’ thunder (bolt) and the Thors and friends prepare to battle Gorr.
There will be hearty laughs, sly and goofy references as well as heartbreak. Waititi has blended screwball comedy with big action scenes and deftly balances the humor with the emotional content. It’s as if New Zealander Waititi really understand where Hemsworth is coming from and what he can bring to the big screen. Even Thor’s weapons become characters in this film about love. “Thor: Love and Thunder” does eventually explain the meaning of its title, which is touching. As always, there will also be some mid-credit and post-credit scenes so do stay until the very end.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” had its US premiere in Los Angeles on 23 June 2022 and opens in theaters in the USA on 8 July 2022.
As you might expect with King Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson, there is definitely high visibility Black representation. (Diversity in terms of sexual orientation is represented here through Valkyrie.) This film also doesn’t forget that Idris Elba played Heimdall. Although Heimdall died (but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t appear in the future), his children are represented here. There was a debate about the casting of a person who is Black as in Ghanaian or Sierra Leonean descent when Elba was first cast. Yet there was blackness amongst real Vikings, but what we now mean as Black in the United States compared to what to be black meant in the past or means in other places is, as you know if you’ve been reading this blog, up for debate.
- The Existence of Black Vikings in Valhalla Series Explained
- Was the Black Viking Leader Jarl Haakon Based on a Real Person? Yes and No
- The Black Viking
So then we have to revisit just what is meant by “Black.” To be dark-skinned can be relative. Geirmund Heljarskinn was known as the “Black Viking,” but his mother was from Siberia and he had “Mongolian facial features.” His mother was Ljufvina, “a princess of Mongolian descent.”
The Vikings also traveled to North Africa and the Middle East. And people from those areas have been considered “black” as in “having dark skin, hair, and eyes” just in the same manner as the Moors or the black Irish.
The East Asian representation has been diminished with the death of Tadanobu Asano’s Hogun in “Thor: Ragnarok.” If you ask, should there be people of Asian or East Asian descent amongst the Vikings, if Space Vikings correlate with DNA reality, the answer is yes. Even aside from Ljufvina, recent DNA studies indicate that there was more than just one Mongolian princess mixing with the Vikings or the people of Scandinavia.
- Did Vikings Ever Travel to Asia? (India, China, the Middle East?)
- The Vikings were from Asia? DNA tests find surprising origins of famous Scandinavian warriors
- Vast DNA Analysis of Hundreds of Vikings Reveals They Weren’t Who We Thought
- ‘Viking’ was a job description, not a matter of heredity, massive ancient DNA study shows
According to Britannica.com: “The Sami are an indigenous people who inhabit Sápmi, their preferred name for Lapland, and adjacent areas of northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland as well as the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They are speakers of the Sami languages, which are endangered.”
- Who are the Saami or Sami?
- Genetic origin of the Swedish Sami inferred from HLA class I and class II allele frequencies
The genetic origins of the Sami do draw from Europe, but also Asia (not Africa).
Several of the common class I alleles in Sami (B*0702, B*1501, B*4002 and A*0301) are found at high frequency in other European populations. However, a number of class I and class II alleles (B*4001, A*2402, DRB1*0901 and DRB1*1101) in the Swedish Sami are characteristic of Asian populations. Admixture analyses indicate that 87% of the Sami gene pool is of European origin and that the Asian contribution is 13%. Our HLA analyses indicate a higher proportion of Asian ancestry in the Sami than shown by previous genetic studies.
Notably, for comparison, the Japanese population was used.
The proportions of European and Asian ancestry were calculated for the northern and southern Sami using (1) the non-Sami Swedish population as descendents of an ancestral European population, (2) the Japanese population as descendents of an ancestral Asian population and (3) the northern and southern Sami populations as descendents of an admixture event between the ancestral European and ancestral Asian populations.
This 2008 study concluded:
In summary, the HLA class I and class II analyses show that the main genetic contribution to the Swedish Sami has come from European populations. However, the estimated Asian influence in the northern Sami is higher than that indicated by other genetic markers. The genetic contribution from Asian populations to the southern Sami is lower compared to the northern Sami, most likely due to significant admixture with the non-Sami Swedish population.
So instead of a high profile SubSaharan African representation, the DNA studies suggest that people of East Asian descent should have greater representation in Loki-Thor films and that very brief excursion into Mongolia for a diversity in the TV series “Loki” should allowed for those “Mongolians” to have more prominence in the storyline.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” provide ethnic/racial diversity through its scenes in the Council of the Gods scene and New Asgard, and, of course, through New Zealander Taika Waititi as both director and the voice of Korg, but it still leans heavily into a binary of racial diversity.
*Full disclosure: I made a Thor costume for my dog Kaminari and we do have costumes for Loki variants.