This article contains spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder.
First thing, can you remind me what Natalie Portman’s deal in these movies is?
You are apparently not the only one to have trouble remembering this, which is why the movie opens with a little refresher. N-Port’s Jane Foster was Thor’s love interest in the very first Thor movie, and they were firmly a couple in Thor: The Dark World. But as the flashbacks in Love and Thunder reveal, the two split up for mundane, non-superheroic reasons—i.e., they got bored of each other, which also seemed to be about how Portman felt playing the role. She returned briefly in Avengers: Endgame, where an alternate-timeline version of The Dark World’s storyline played out, but it apparently took offering Portman the opportunity to get jacked and grow 9 inches taller to lure her back to the MCU.
And she’s Thor now? So whom does that make … Thor?
Technically, she’s “the Mighty Thor,” because it turns out whoever wields the hammer Mjolnir can be a Thor, even if they’re not the Thor. It doesn’t exactly square with the whole godhood thing, but it allows the movies to keep the character alive after Chris Hemsworth’s contract runs out, and has allowed the comics to tell Thor stories that aren’t always about the same beefy white dude.
Thor’s hammer is saving her but also killing her? How does that work?
Jane, who, by the way, now has Stage IV cancer, goes to Mjolnir in the first place because it’s supposed to have the power to heal her. The shattered pieces of the hammer have been on display in New Asgard, which has become a bit of a tourist trap, with an ice-cream store called Infinity Conez, but the pieces have been calling out to her, and she answers. But it turns out that healing only works when she is fully Thor’d out. When she returns to her non-godlike brunette form, she’s worse off than she was before, since the hammer is apparently draining her life force and her new Thor duties are making her skip chemotherapy sessions. It’s not easy being divine.
I thought Mjolnir was Thor’s hammer. When did he ditch it for Stormbreaker? And since when do the hammers have feelings?
As the skit put on for New Asgard’s tourists might remind you, Mjolnir was shattered by Thor’s sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. (The hammer wielded by Captain America in Avengers: Endgame was snatched from the past during the Avengers’ “time heist” and returned to its rightful place/time after Thanos’ defeat.) With no hammer to his name, Thor turned to the same dwarves who forged Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet to make him a new weapon in Avengers: Infinity War, and they came through in spades with a newly awesome weapon that’s part hammer, part ax, and extremely handy when it comes to decapitating Titans. Both weapons have always had some sort of connection to their wielders, but this is the first time they’ve been depicted as jealous exes.
Speaking of the New Asgard Players, the actors playing Thor, Loki, etc., look pretty familiar. Who are they?
That’s Sam Neill as Odin, Matt Damon as Loki, and Chris Hemsworth’s brother, Liam, as Thor—all reprising their roles from Ragnarok. The troupe has gained a new member in Melissa McCarthy’s Hela, and if you watch closely as the actors take their bows, you can spot McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, off to the side, moonlighting as the theater’s stage manager.
Speaking of Thor, when did he join the Guardians of the Galaxy?
Thor hooked up with the Guardians in Infinity War, and has been bopping around space with them for a while. But as Love and Thunder’s first few minutes indicate, the God of Thunder isn’t much of a team player, so they go their separate ways. Not, however, before Thor acquires a couple of new friends in the form of a pair of screaming space goats named Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder (and yes, they are canon). As for why goats yell so much, well, that’s a subject for a separate explainer.
OK, so Christian Bale. Who is he, and why is he so mad at the gods?
His name is Gorr, and well, they don’t call him “the God Butcher” for nothing. He lives on a barren planet where all of his kinsmen are either dead or dying, including his daughter, whom he’s hauled out to the middle of the desert in the belief that the god he’s believed in all of his life will save him. The god never shows, and Gorr’s daughter dies, but he follows whispers deeper into the desert and finds a magical oasis inhabited by his god and some creatures made out of flowers. Gorr still thinks that the god would want to help a faithful believer, but instead the god laughs at him, and the Necrosword—a mythical blade with the power to kill gods—manifests itself to him, just in time to do some god-butchering. Consumed by grief, and slowly poisoned by the Necrosword’s power, Gorr decides he needs to kill all the gods, including those nice Asgardians we’ve grown so fond of.
Where does the Necrosword come from?
In the comics, the Necrosword is actually a symbiote, not unlike Venom, that simply prefers to take the form of a sword. The evil god Knull created it from the remains of a Celestial (you might remember those from Eternals), and it’s been used at various times by Ego, the living planet (you might remember him from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and by a version of Loki (whom you might remember from … Loki). Also, it has a name. It’s All-Black, it’s not just “the necrosword.”
Have we heard of this “Eternity” person before? It seems kind of important?
Right, so Gorr, at the Necrosword’s urging, sets his sights on Eternity, a being who lives at “the literal center of the universe,” waiting for someone to turn up and be granted one all-powerful wish. (Gorr’s, naturally, involves the death of every living god.) One of four “cosmic entities” whose existence predates the universe, Eternity appears in Steve Ditko’s (of course) Doctor Strange comics as a caped figure whose body seems to be made of interstellar space, like a person-shaped hole cut in the fabric of reality. When Gorr finally reaches Eternity in Love and Thunder, the depiction is much the same, only this one just sits like it’s doing some particularly intense yoga, waiting for that wish to be cast.
There is quite a lot of talk about “Bifrost.” What is that?
Bifrost is, classically, the rainbow bridge that connects Asgard to Earth. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s more like a cosmic vacuum that can transport figures to and from anywhere in the galaxy. Formerly the dominion of Idris Elba’s Heimdall (whom Thanos killed at the beginning of Infinity War), the Bifrost is now connected to Thor’s hammer-ax Stormbreaker, which is why he can use it to make his own rainbow portals—and also why Gorr wants to get ahold of it, and use it to open the portal to Eternity.
It seems like New Asgard has been pretty chill since Thanos died. What has Valkyrie been up to?
Just general “being king” stuff: meetings, raven mail, meetings that could have been raven mail. (If you think that joke is extremely funny, you will love Thor: Love and Thunder.) Also, she apparently used the down time to get really into Phantom.
I have some questions about Omnipotence City. First of all, that’s Russell Crowe, right?
That is indeed Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi’s fellow Antipodean taking on the role of the god of lightning—not thunder—with an outrageously campy Greek accent. Unlike his mythological portrayal, this Zeus isn’t so big on waging legendary battles, but he is very keen on orgies.
And all the gods just … live there? Shouldn’t they be, like, ruling the universe or something?
In order to steer clear of blasphemy, Marvel’s gods are just beings powerful enough to have convinced others to worship them at some point: stronger than your average superhero, but not immortal. They’re not even the most powerful beings in the universe. The ones hanging out in Omnipotence City seem particularly unconcerned with traditional godly duties—guiding living creatures towards moral courses of action, that kind of thing—which leaves them with a lot of free time for … well, orgies.
During the final showdown with Gorr, Thor basically gives all of the kidnapped kids his power. Can he do that?
Apparently, he can! Thor gains power from his mystical weapons, but unlike Jane’s Mighty Thor, he’s not reliant on them—thus the whole electricity-crackling-between-his-fingertips deal—which means he’s got more than enough to share. It might help that most of the captive children he’s temporarily Thor-ing up are of Asgardian descent, but who knows.
Why does Gorr, the God Butcher, give up his whole butchering-gods plan?
Because Thor reminds him that love is stronger than hate (really). The defeated, Necrosword-less Gorr reaches Eternity, but Thor suggests that bringing his daughter back to life might be a better use of his one wish than obliterating every god in the universe. Gorr, who is not unreasonable as god-butchers go, agrees, and wishes his daughter back to life just before his Necrosword-sapped body gives out on him.
On to the post-credits scenes. That person playing Hercules seems awfully familiar.
Good eye. That’s none other than Brett Goldstein, Roy Fucking Kent himself, as Zeus’ hopping-mad son, who is none too happy his dad ended up getting killed by his own lightning bolt. In the comics, the character is a frequent member of the Avengers. Will he show up in future Marvel movies? He’s here, he’s there, he’s every-fucking-where.
And Jane ends up in Valhalla? I thought that was just for Vikings.
As Thor explains to the not-quite-dying Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Valhalla is reserved for warriors who die in battle. Jane technically expired just after the movie’s big fight, but that’s close enough for Heimdall, who waves her into the halls of the gods and perhaps out of the MCU for good.