It’s summer blockbuster season and it almost feels like normal, with a new Tom Cruise movie opening this week and a new trailer for the next Marvel thing, Thor: Love and Thunder, dropping last night. Still sort of heartbroken this movie isn’t called Th4r, but the new trailer shows off more of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster/Mighty Thor, and introduces Christian Bale as the villain, Gorr the God Butcher. I am pretty sure the fact that the Thor movies are known for being colorful and goofy is going to have something to do with why Gorr is achromatic and dour. It’s not just that the character himself is designed in black and white—consistent with the comics, to be fair—it’s that the scenery around him is also leached of color. Maybe something about grimdark vs silliness in superhero movies and how colorful production design doesn’t automatically negate narrative stakes or meaning? I would LOVE it if Taika Waititi makes a point about that.
Speaking of Taika, he’s not only directing he’s also back as Korg, narrating the story of Thor’s return to form post-Endgame, and introducing Jane Foster as the new master of Mjolnir. I like the idea of Thor being the pining ex in that relationship, and also that Jane seems stoked to wield the power of Thor and have the hammer this time. Still no hints if the movie is going to include the plot from the comics about Jane having breast cancer and how using Mjolnir is a major personal sacrifice because the hammer’s magic heals her every time she lifts it, but as soon as she puts it back down, the cancer comes back because the healing has undone the effects of her chemotherapy.
It's an intense subplot, though one that perfectly distills the nature of heroism and self-sacrifice, but it’s hard to get a read on what Love and Thunder will really be. They’re leaning hard into the humor in the trailers, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from the Thor movies since Taika took over and Chris Hemsworth gets to play the character comedically. And even though “Jane is dying of breast cancer and Mjolnir is making it worse” seems incompatible with the delightfully dumb tone of this trailer, it is interesting we’re mostly only seeing Jane in her Thor gear. Also, Taika is a master at combining contrary tones and pulling unexpected rabbits out of his hat. What I’m saying is, I’m not buying that Thor: Love and Thunder is going to be pure space fun and good times. Thor: Ragnarok had an anti-colonialist message tucked in it, I am super curious to see what themes Taika has planted in the nooks and crannies of Love and Thunder.