Thor: Love and Thunder

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Sam Adams: I tell you my secret. Now I see. Charlotte greatest paper.

Speaker 2: No, I am the.

Sam Adams: What’s in the box. Yo, my God. You’re blowing up. Down you.

Dana Stevens: Hello and welcome to another Slate Spoiler special podcast. This week we are spoiling Thor, Love and Thunder the fourth. Am I right, Sam Fourth. Freestanding Thor movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sam Adams: That is correct.

Dana Stevens: And I believe this is the first time a marvel hero has gotten a fourth movie. Is that right as well?

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Sam Adams: Yeah, it’s yeah, it’s the fourth movie with the character’s name in the title, I believe. They’ve obviously shown up in lots of other people’s movies, but Thor is the first person to get four thought movies.

Dana Stevens: I mean, I think that is significant in a way which we can get to later, which is, you know, can any hero, can any of the characters in this universe sustain that many solo movies about them and continue to be interesting and not repeat themselves? I think we somewhat differ on that because surprisingly for me in the MCU, I liked this movie more than you did, I believe. But wait, I haven’t even introduced you yet. At the other end of the line with me this week is Sam Adams, senior editor at Slate. Hello, Sam.

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Sam Adams: Hello, Dana.

Dana Stevens: I was just thinking, as we were getting ready to record about this funny exchange we had via email on the day I was writing my review, when you sent me a list of questions that you plan to publish explainers about on Slate when this movie drops at the end of the week. And I thought you were asking me those questions and proceeded to exhaustively go down the list and answer all this Marvel trivia that I know nothing about and you know lots more about, which only proves that I was not clear on the concept of the explainer in the first place. But that is exactly how I’m going to depend on you in this conversation. Because while I’ve seen, I think, most of the movies in this series, I’m not sure I’ve seen them all. And I was somewhat in the dark about some of the deep asgardian lore being thrown around in Thor four.

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Sam Adams: Funny thing about this movie is it starts with kind of a recap of what’s gone on in the previous movies, and there are actually several points in the movies, including some flashbacks and a sort of like afternoon play lit by the new Asgard players, which are designed to remind people of what happened in the previous movie. So it kind of comes in assuming that you’re not going to remember everything that has happened in Thor one or two or three and all the other MCU movies. But it does help to at least spend some time on Wikipedia. I will say that much.

Dana Stevens: Yeah, this movie does do some work to catch you up and you could go into it completely cold and still get something out of the story. But yeah, as like most of these movies, it is constantly expanding on this growing mythology that that’s what now 29 movies in or something like that. So I am not going to stress about whether I get every single detail right.

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Dana Stevens: But I may have a few questions for you along the way about what’s going on in Asgard Land. Part of why I was drawn to this movie in spite of the fact that I skip every other Marvel movie. Now, unless there’s some particular thing that calls to me in it is because it was directed by Taika Waititi, the New Zealand, what do you want to call him? Sort of phenom who rose up through the indie world to become, I mean, now sort of a ubiquitous presence on the Disney Pixar Marvel scene. This is his second, I believe his second Marvel freestanding movie that he’s directed. Right. But he has been kind of ubiquitous in the universe as a voice character, as he is in this movie, as the Rockman, Korg and and in various other guises as well. Do you have anything to say about Taika before we started on the movie itself?

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Sam Adams: Yeah, I haven’t been a big Taika Waititi fan for a long time. Even going back to his earliest movies like Boy and Eagle versus Shark and his movie What We Do in the Shadows and the TV show adapted from that, which is if you haven’t seen it, is a very funny sort of mockumentary about vampires in the contemporary world. But there was a moment in Light Year, which is the movie we split last time then, where these sort of random characters come into the plot about halfway through, and one of the voices was sort of nagging me familiar, and I couldn’t quite place it. And I realized it was Taika Waititi and I actually just sort of unbidden had this like, oh no, not again reaction to it, because he just sort of seems to be a little bit overexposed right now. And someone who is I was used to be really happy and I thought brought him to see and really brought something new and different to the Marvel Universe. I now feel like is spreading himself a bit thin, which may play into my feelings about this movie as we discuss them.

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Dana Stevens: Yeah, because he’s been everywhere, right? He’s also been in The Mandalorian, I think, directed an episode of that done Voices Here and There. I mean, I feel like that’s maybe a bit unfair to him because I think he is suffering from a moment of overexposure. But if you don’t follow his career that closely or follow every single new Marvel Disney show that closely is I don’t I mean, I was still excited to see if he brought something to this the way that he did to his his first outing with Marvel, Thor Ragnarok, which I think everybody sort of agreed was, you know, it was turning over a new leaf. It had a new feeling within this universe and a new look, you know, in a sort of a more comic touch, which this movie does as well. But all of a sudden I feel like people are turning on Taika.

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Dana Stevens: So just to lay out cards on the table at the beginning of this conversation, I think I liked this movie more than you did. Not that I’m like a huge cheerleader who would send everyone to the theater to see it. But I found it kind of a refreshing and compact. It was very relaxing that it was only 2 hours long, just a chapter in this ongoing saga that didn’t take itself too seriously. And then I thought was really well done right.

Sam Adams: I mean, I definitely like parts of it. Know, I like the parts of this movie that break away from the Marvel template and do seem like people are just kind of goofing around and having fun. But at a certain point, you know, the parts when it has to go back to the plot of the movie just feel like so kind of rote and mechanical at a certain point that you really feel like Taika is just throwing in all this other stuff to just to keep himself sort of engaged because the rest of it means so little to him at that point and sort of becomes, why should I care about any of this? If you don’t, I.

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Dana Stevens: Think maybe you’re right on the storytelling level that this movie doesn’t completely get it done. I think it has a really good villain, which is Christian Bale’s wonderfully named Gorr, the God Butcher, certainly one of the best names of a marvel villain in some time. And as we learn in this really pretty dark pre credits sequence for what’s otherwise often a comical movie, Gorr the God Butcher becomes who he is. His origin story is all about that. He’s an alien living on this planet that seems to have been essentially forsaken by its gods, right? That in a strangely allegorical way that reminds me of, you know, a climate change kind of story. The planet seems to have turned into a desert and there’s no place to get food anymore. We don’t learn that much about the background, ever, but we just witness this awful scene where this character, you know, while still a a non super mortal, has his young daughter die in his arms of essentially exposure and starvation because her planet has been forsaken by its God.

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Dana Stevens: He then goes to have a meeting with that God, and he makes the mistake of telling the Christian Bale character that this sword that just seems to be lying next to them as they’re having this conversation in his Godlike Grove is the necro sword, this kind of metaphysical weapon that is capable of destroying gods? I don’t know why he happens to mention that, because then, of course, Christian Bale manages to avail himself of the Necro sword Kill this God and now swear I’m going through the universe and destroying all gods because they have forsaken me and my daughter.

Sam Adams: Yeah, there’s sort of an old Simpsons joke where there’s like a comic book convention and fans are asking all these questions about how did this happen in this episode? Why did this happen? And then eventually someone on the panel just gives up and says, Well, you know, any time something like that happened, a wizard did it. And the equivalent in this movie is The Necrosis or did it because it’s like a how does Christian Bale end up in the place where the gods were living? How did he kill the gods? How does he know that he then has? There’s this one method where he can go to the center of the universe and make this one wish for this all powerful being and wipe out all the gods. And how does he know about all that?

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Sam Adams: The neck resort did it. The neck resort is apparently this is not even in the movie. But if you read up on it as I was forced to for professional reasons, sort of akin to like venom, the symbiote from the Spider-Man movies. So it’s a living, black, gooey creature that apparently just likes to take the form of a sword for most of its existence. And it’s also that sort of this bottomless, corrupting evil that saps the life out of the person who’s using it. But because Gore really is pretty mad at gods and the whole concept of gods, he’s willing to put up with that if he can use the sword to slay them.

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Dana Stevens: I mean, if you compare that villain story and just the performance of Bale as that character to the Eternals. All right, the movie that came out last year and had some of the most boring and sort of inconsequential and uncharacterized Marvel villains I’ve ever seen, just basically these big, large planet sized meanies with no apparent motive other than to create destruction on Earth. Gorr The God Butcher is great. Maybe it’s also that he comes along in a historic moment when religious fundamentalism is taking over the globe and like the fantasy of slaughtering gods is not unidentifiable to many viewers, I believe.

Sam Adams: Right. And there’s a lot of sort of low grade, low stakes humor in this that often just has to do with kind of mocking self-awareness. And Christian Bale is not having anything to do with any of that. Like this is a straight up the middle, like Shakespearean grandeur, like old school, British actor, superhero, movie villain. He’s just playing it to the hilt. And I think, you know, kind of whatever gravitas the movie has, whether or not it needs it comes from him.

Dana Stevens: Yeah, I agree. And even though you would think that that would mesh really badly, I liked when he came on the scene, it’s like it’s Christian Bale, he’s bringing it. That’s our pre credits sequence that establishes our villain, Gorr, the God Butcher. Obviously, one of the gods that he is going to go about butchering is Thor himself. And you want to talk about where we find Thor at the beginning of this chapter.

Sam Adams: Thor is, if you remember when last we left him, he had kind of hooked up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to just kind of fly around space and do adventures. And that is where he is when we find him. He is actually initially sort of meditating in a cave off by himself because the point this movie needs to make right at the beginning is that Thor is not like really a great team player. Even with a band of misfits like The Guardians of the Galaxy, they call upon him to help stop this temple of these sort of otherworldly gods from being torn down. And they’re trying to plan this whole team assault on it. And Thora keeps just running ahead of them and doing whatever he feels like doing with the hammer. And then he, you know, eventually wins the battle by himself and.

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Sam Adams: First thing they’re all proud and about, you know, what a great job we did, knowing that he did it as a sort of classic like delayed comedy bit, where you see like the big, ornate glassy towers of this sacred temple behind him. And you just know after it has held on the shot for more than 3 seconds that they are quickly going to like shatter into a billion pieces, which of course they do. And then he and the guardians decide to go their separate ways.

Dana Stevens: I have but one note to that excellent summary of the beginning of the movie, which is that here’s me being a marvel nerd, is that he wasn’t with his hammer because his hammer, importantly, later in the plot of this movie, was shattered by the Cate Blanchett character, what’s her name, by the goddess of death from Asgard, HeLa, back in Thor Ragnarok. So he is now fighting with a new weapon. It’s called Stormbreaker. And it’s a kind of an ax, right? More than a hammer is this sort of super axe, which he has this, I thought, humorously ambivalent relationship to. He misses his old hammer. He doesn’t feel quite the same about Stormbreaker and Stormbreaker just wants to be loved. And so there’s some sort of axe personification jokes which maybe get hammered. Hardy har a little hard into the ground. There are a couple of them are quite funny, right?

Sam Adams: I mean, the one thing I like about what Taika Waititi has done with his two Thor movies is Chris Hemsworth is very funny, is also, you know, very jacked and large and blond. And movies generally prefer to make more use of the latter qualities than the former. But a lot of my favorite of his performances, like in the Ghostbusters movie in the Vacation Reboot’s he’s a really, really good comedian. And I think to the extent that he is also sort of playing an enormously jacked superhero in those movies, the way that they are playing into how funny he can be is really wise and a good thing to see.

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Dana Stevens: He plays on the humor of that character that is at once somewhat self-deprecating and extremely vain, right? I mean, the part of him that sort of claims to be a team player but really wants to get everything done himself that takes the movie a long way, not all the way, but a long way toward toward being watchable, in my view.

Dana Stevens: Sam, I’m going to put a pin in our conversation for just a second for a word from our sponsor this week. So yeah, in this early and somewhat awkward chapter of the movie that attempts to graft the Guardians of the Galaxy characters on to Thor story, they disappear pretty early on and take off for their own adventures. But, you know, there’s a little bit of embarrassing synergy at the beginning where we see those characters in a world where they don’t completely seem to belong, then they take off. In the meantime, we’ve been intercutting with something back on earth that relates back to the very first two Thor movies. I think those are the only two she was in, which is Dr. Jane Foster, the character played by Natalie Portman. Do you want to talk about where she’s at? At the beginning of love and thunder.

Sam Adams: She is getting chemotherapy for stage four cancer, which they have reintroduced her into the MCU with. You know, Natalie Portman exited her Thor romance after that second Thor movie seemed to have no interest in or desire to come back. The thing they offered her in this movie was a chance to play Thor herself. So, yeah. So Jane Foster has been off doing her own thing. She’s written sort of a bestselling Stephen Hawking type book, but now she has this advanced cancer and is, you know, although she looks quite well, is probably going to die pretty soon. And this is when the shattered pieces of Thor’s hammer, I guess we’ll call it Milliner, which have just been sitting around in the earthly city of New Asgard, where the Asgardians have settled as sort of like a tourist exhibit. These pieces, like begin calling to her somehow she follows them. This bit all sort of happens off screen, but she either falls in there or they reform into the hammer. And when she picks up on the earth, she becomes Thor.

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Dana Stevens: The mighty Thor twist in this is something you just don’t want to ask too many questions about, like, how can she exist at the same time as the actual Thor? And sort of what is the metaphysics that makes them be masculine and feminine versions of the same hero at the same time? And why was he not aware that that was a possibility? Being somebody who was supposedly versed in the law of Asgard, did he know that he had a female avatar that could appear at the same time as him? It’s all very odd and even more disturbingly, and we’ll get to this later on, we don’t know what that means for her illness. She seems to say early on to her friend, played by Kat Dennings back in, you know, mortal world, that she’s seeking out the asgardians because she wants to see if they have medical advances that could help with her cancer. And at one point, we think that somehow becoming this mighty hot, long, blond hair superhero is going to cure her cancer. But as it turns out, the hammer is actually draining her energy the whole time.

Sam Adams: Yeah, so she is fine when she is mighty Thor, but when she lets go of the hammer, she is actually Jane Foster worse off than she was before.

Dana Stevens: I mean, when I think about it too much as one probably shouldn’t with this kind of movie, the tonal mélange really makes no sense because you’re right that you have a really classic, you know, brooding kind of superhero villain with the Christian Bale character. Then there’s a lot of lighthearted goofiness in practically every battle scene and scene related to Chris Hemsworth. But meanwhile, there is a young woman dying of stage four cancer of some kind, which is a driving part of the plot that we really forget about for long periods of time. Because, you know, we see her fighting crime. How sick can she be?

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Sam Adams: And it’s quite depressing to dwell on. So they just don’t.

Dana Stevens: So getting into the meat of the action of of love and thunder, the first big action scene that we get outside of that sort of set up at the beginning that, you know, that Thor has been fighting with the the Guardians folks. Is that the same day that Natalie Portman’s character, Jane, arrives in New Asgard and becomes mighty Thor, the hammer assembles itself for her, etc. It’s very packed day in the colony of New Asgard because that same day, Christian Bale, Gorr, the God Butcher, arrives with his weird sort of shadow spiders. You want to describe what his his arrival looks like?

Sam Adams: Yeah, he just shows up because the necrosis did it once again. But yes, he has this master plan where we find out that he needs Thor’s hammer, axe, stormbreaker, or whatever you want to call it, to the literal center of the universe as they make sure to refer it in the movie, lest anyone think they’re speaking figuratively, there’s there’s this being called eternity will grant one wish to the first person who actually makes it to him. And Gorr needs Thor’s new hammer to get there because it has the power of Bifrost the Rainbow Bridge.

Dana Stevens: Right. And so that leads to this subplot that’s going to last for the rest of the movie, where all the children of new Asgard, which is not that many, it appears to be about the size of an elementary school classroom. 20 or so kids are imprisoned in this kind of free floating cage right on a on a distant planet. And they’re just sitting there and Thor can somehow psychically visit them whenever he wants to. He can sort of astral project himself into the kid cage and go give them a quick, quick pep talk. But he can’t actually save them because that’s not really him. It’s just a projection of him.

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Sam Adams: I hate that I even know this, but I’m just going to explain because you bring that up. The reason he can do that is because one of the Asgardian kids is the son of Heimdall. Idris Elba’s used to be the kind of the guy in charge of the Rainbow Bridge and. So he has his magic eye powers and Thor can connect with him through those. That’s how he can project himself there.

Dana Stevens: I got it. Got it. Right. That. And that’s sort of the main kid in the cage. Sam, I’m going to stop you again for a word from our other sponsor this week.

Dana Stevens: So we soon get this core group of adventurers that are trying to go and find Gorr, the God Butcher, and do away with him, which is which consists of Thor, the mighty Thor, his his new female counterpart, the aforementioned Korg, voiced by the director Taika Waititi, who is a man made of giant rocks from a planet of rock people. And then it is great to see her again. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, who was really one of the breakthrough characters in Thor Ragnarok. And it was a huge crowd pleaser who I find to be really underused in this movie. I was really glad to see her again, could not wait to see her, you know, get to work. And until the end she gets very few action scenes and seems like she’s really relegated to this passive position of kind of sitting and babysitting the ship while everybody goes exploring.

Sam Adams: Right. They give her an injury, which sort of is an excuse for that. At the beginning of the movie, she’s she’s the king of new Asgard, which seems to be mostly just sort of a bureaucratic drag for her, and more like being the sort of mayor of a mid-sized Midwestern town or something. But yeah, she’s not doing her sort of kickass sword maiden stuff in this movie. She is mostly just kind of kicking around in the background.

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Dana Stevens: I will say that that montage that establishes what her life is like as King of New Asgard is quite funny and seems to imply that she, although it may be a bureaucratic position that she excels at it. I really loved that. She just sort of seemed to be everywhere at once and that you see her just kissing babies and cutting ribbons and just utterly overperforming as the king of new Asgard.

Sam Adams: Right. And if you’ve been watching the MCU movies at all and you kind of understand this Marvel kind of conceives of Gods is as sort of very powerful beings, but not like the all powerful creators of the universe. That’s more like the Celestials who are in the Eternals movie. The gods are more sort of like superheroes who are more powerful than most other superheroes, but they don’t have sort of universe spanning powers.

Dana Stevens: There’s a big battle at on omnipotent city, right? Zeus is injured but not killed as we learn later on. And do they take anyone with them when they take off from omnipotent city? Like, what does that accomplish?

Sam Adams: They get this. This thunderbolt, basically.

Dana Stevens: Oh, that’s right. Which they use as a weapon for the rest of the movie. Yes.

Sam Adams: Yeah. But it is basically like just an opportunity for a comic set piece in the middle. And I guess there has to be a scene in every other Marvel movie being like in the Ant-Man movie or whatever, where it’s like, Oh, I tried to call The Avengers, but they’re really busy because otherwise there’s always a question of like somebody trying to destroy the world. Why don’t you just call The Avengers every time? So this time I think they have to explain it. Why don’t you call all the other gods and there’s like, because they don’t really feel like coming. So it’s just the four of us.

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Dana Stevens: So the last third of this movie is kind of a muddle of action. I think we want to get to the last big action scene, but on the way, it is important to know one thing, which is that Gore, the God butcher who has been wanting all of this time to get control of Thor’s hammer, manages to wrest it from them on this little planet. Which what was most remarkable to me, because it looks like the illustrations for Saint-exupéry’s, the little prince, right? They land on a planet that’s so small that you can actually see the curvature of it as they’re walking around this kind of barren moon. And in a battle on that planet, Gore manages to wrest the hammer away from them, meaning that he, you know, has now essentially pulled the balance of power in the universe over to his side.

Sam Adams: Yes. And he now has like the one thing that he needs to get him to the place where he can make his wish and exterminate all the gods in the universe. That sets up a big battle, basically, where all the asgardian kids are there, too. And they all they have to stop, you know, Gore from opening the doorway to eternity. Thor uses his hammer to sort of like spread his power to all the Asgardian kids and make an army of little Thor’s on. So one of them gets has, like, a little stuffed bunny whose eyes start shooting, like, deadly laser beams out of it.

Dana Stevens: I feel like that would have been more successful. The weaponizing of the toys and all of that, which is obviously fan service for kids in some ways. Right. I mean, a lot of the viewers are going to be family viewers and it is kind of great for kids to see kids get to take on all of these bad guys. But if we knew who the kids were and had a little bit more of a sense of their characters, I mean, even the main kid who you mentioned is the you know, the son of the Idris Elba character, Heimdall, is not really established as a person, you know. And so all of that scene to me fell a little bit flat. I will say that one of my favorite jokes in the whole movie happened earlier on when the kids are up in their airborne cage that we keep revisiting them in. And Thor goes there to give them a very one pep talk that doesn’t really cheer them up very much. And his final advice to them is you got to work as a team, your team, kids in a cage and something about the cruelty of team kids in a cage and then him disappearing just really made me laugh.

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Dana Stevens: So this mélange of tones that we were talking about really gets crazy toward the end because everything is happening at once, right? We’re going to finally get Gorr, the God Butcher, trying to get his wish. And we’ll talk for a second about exactly how he’s trying to fulfill that wish. But we also get the the closure of the story about, Jane, Natalie Portman’s character dying of cancer. And here there’s a real bit of confusion beyond just the total muddle of is this a comedy or a tragedy or, you know, some kind of Shakespearean drama or what? There’s just the plot question of like, why is she dying exactly? Wasn’t the whole idea supposed to be that the hammer had restored her you to help again or was putting her on some kind of better path? But no. Suddenly we see her back again getting chemo and she’s all, you know, drawn face, haggard looking. It’s clear that she is actually not going to make it and that there’s some kind of negative force that the hammer is imposing on her mortal self.

Sam Adams: Yeah. I mean, I guess the idea is that the reason that humans don’t wield Myanmar more often is because it has this tendency to consume them just like the neck or sword is doing to gore. So she is totally fine while she is all thawed out. But in the moment she drops the hammer. We see that, you know, her human body has been kind of wasting more and more away. So Thor tells her in no uncertain terms that she is not to be Thor anymore, that he is going to go and wages final battle by himself. Naturally, his friends don’t listen. So Valkyrie and Jane. With him, Jane ends up shattering mutineer once again and destroying the Necro Sword. And that basically leaves her dying as they finally approach eternity.

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Dana Stevens: Yes. So it’s that sacrificial logic that we’ve already seen in a lot of the Avengers movies, etc.. Right. That somebody sacrifices themself for the greater good, which seems like it’s something of a moral sticking point in the Marvel Universe. Right. Like, is sacrifice a good thing or a bad thing? It seems like there’s various superheroes always arguing against it, saying, no, every life is valuable and we can exchange one life for more lives. But at the same time, there’s no greater heroism in the Marvel Universe than to sacrifice yourself.

Dana Stevens: What about Christian Bale’s final moment? I don’t know that I love that as much as I liked the the pre credits sequence of seeing how he became the God butcher in the first place, in part because this wishing well kind of creature that is imagined by the movie just seems like a little bit of a of a narrative lazy way out or something. I mean, essentially, every single Marvel movie seems to posit some new ultimate force at the center of the universe. Can you describe this moment?

Sam Adams: So basically, eternity is if you if you know, the comics, I mean, no surprise, the character created by Steve Ditko, who is sort of the Marvel comics, like big sort of space nut, I guess in this version, eternity is just kind of a character who sits in the middle of the universe waiting for a person to get there, and then the first being to get there will be granted one wish. You feel like this might have come up? In previous movies, like when they were trying to kill Thanos and Ritter, half the roster, half the population of the universe. You feel like somebody when like, you know, there’s this eternity thing, like if we get there and just make the one wish. But it just. Nobody thought of it until now.

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Sam Adams: But, yeah, so they defeat Gore. They shatter the neck resort and. MILNER But it’s too late. The door has been opened so that Gore and Thor and Jane all make it through to eternity. Thor and Jane are too far away to stop Gore from getting to eternity. So he’s getting ready to make his one wish, which all along has been to wipe out all the gods in the universe. And Thor talks him out of it.

Sam Adams: Thor says, Hey, you remember how you were really upset about your daughter dying and, like, killing all the gods isn’t going to bring her back? What if instead you brought her back and Gore says, You know what? Good point. So, yeah, so Gore decides, instead of killing all the gods to bring back his daughter, even though he himself is dying because he’s been sort of used up by the neck or sword, so he brings back his daughter just in time for her to see him die. Jane dies as well because she has been consumed by Milner. So that leaves Thor and of course daughter to go back to new Asgard. And Thor essentially kind of takes her in as his own adopted daughter.

Dana Stevens: Right. So we say goodbye to Thor, seeing him be this single dad with a super daughter who he seems to be training in the ways of superhero heroism.

Dana Stevens: And so the movie goes out on, as I remember, a sweet child of mine, the Guns N Roses song. We didn’t even mention that Guns N Roses have kind of been the animating spirit of this whole movie, right? One of the characters, the kid who is who’s Idris Elba’s character, Son, has a Axl Rose poster on his wall, I think, and identifies with him. And throughout it sort of seems like a lot of the power moves are accompanied by riffs from Guns N Roses.

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Sam Adams: Yes. This kid, I believe, actually insists that he be called Axl, which Thor refuses to do. But classic teen ager. My name is Axl. Now move on his part.

Dana Stevens: And it is something that I think Waititi has a nice touch with is that the use of pop music? And throughout this movie I did walk out feeling like, Oh, I would listen to this soundtrack again for sure.

Sam Adams: Oh yeah. So basically the sort of status quo ante is restored, except that Jane is dead beyond her, is shattered again, but ever is back in New Asgard, just kind of waiting for the next thing until post-credits scenes, which we always have to talk about.

Dana Stevens: Oh, that’s right. What happens in the Stingers? There’s the Hercules appears. Right. What’s the story with that?

Sam Adams: And this is this is the part where I have to admit that I had an early train and did not see them. So I only know what happens, but I don’t know how so.

Dana Stevens: Well, all I know is that there’s a moment where we visit Russell Crowe Zuse again, he is not, in fact dead, as it was implied that he might have been after the sequence in Omnipotent City. And and we see him kind of wishing vengeance upon someone and talking to somebody off screen saying, you know, we’ve got to fight back and only you can do it, my son. And then we cut to Hercules, but I couldn’t tell you who was playing Hercules.

Sam Adams: Hercules is being played by Brett Goldstein, who is probably familiar to our listeners, if at all, as Roy fucking Kent from Ted Lasso. So this is great. Hercules is canonically Jewish now, among other things. I love that Brett Goldstein, who’s a full on comedian, is like playing this role. I love that for once, like an actor got a role as a hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and didn’t like go on the Kumail Nanjiani diet. Like Brett Goldstein is, you know, like perfectly fine shape, but he is not like super jacked, does not like he’s been eating nothing but unseasoned cod for three years. And, you know, he’s a he’s a Greek god. And the Greek gods, they’re they’re too strong and they kind of live it up. So I really like him entering into this universe. I’ve no idea what the future plans for that character are that the end credits promise slash threaten that Thor will return. I don’t know if that means they’re going to do a fifth movie or he’s just going to be in other ones. But we will probably be seeing more of Brett Goldstein’s Hercules at some point.

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Dana Stevens: Sam I wash my hands at this point of the Stingers at the end because I really don’t even remember what the other one was. Who else do we see as whom and what does that portend for future Marvel chapters?

Sam Adams: Well, Natalie Portman, who seemed like she was just trying to stay out of this thing for so long and finally got them to write her a definitive ending where she becomes a god and then dies, then turns up again in a post-credits scene entering Valhalla, being welcomed by Heimdall. And there’s Idris Elba’s character. And there’s a whole sort of explanation earlier in the movie about how warriors can enter or enter Valhalla if they fall on the field of battle. Technically, it seems to me like she died sort of next to the field of battle and not actually on it. But I guess it’s good enough for Heimdall, so it’s sort of definitively dead because you literally see her going into heaven, but it also sort of does show her alive again. And, you know that if they ever want to get her out of Valhalla, they will find a way to do it in future movies. So I don’t know if this is Natalie Portman just trying to be really well and truly dead. Or Marvel leaving their options open or what?

Dana Stevens: Yeah. For both her and Idris Elba to return if they want. Well, if they do return, you are duty bound to come and talk about the next Thor movie with me. I will stand up for this one on the grounds that if it is true that this feels spun out, I think it has more to do with Marvel milking the character for too long than with anything that Taika Waititi did behind the scenes. I think he brought as much life as he could to what is unquestionably a less vital chapter than his last one, Thor Ragnarok. All right. Well, Sam Adams, thanks so much for joining me again, and I hope to talk to you again soon. Our producer today was Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola. The vice president of audio at Slate is Alicia montgomery. For all of you out there, thanks so much for joining us for this spoiler special and we’ll talk to you again soon.