The upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder is, in many ways, an extremely fresh-looking film, with an exciting (and highly praised) new villain and a level of signature Taika Waititi camp even beyond that seen in Ragnarok. Even so, the fourth Thor film also features the return of many key elements from the series, ones that look to take the sequel to new heights.
One of the more exciting returns is that of Natalie Portman, coming back to the MCU after a marked 9-year absence. Portman's role in this sequel is heavily expanded, with Thor's former love interest, Jane Foster, leveling up into a Thor all her own. Portman's Thor appears just as powerful as Hemsworth's, thanks in large part to her immense physical transformation.
Also returning is, of course, Chris Hemsworth's appropriately god-like physique. For Love and Thunder, Hemsworth adopted a new training regimen, allowing the actor to get more buff than ever before, something that is already apparent in the few bits of released footage.
Among the more prominent elements of the sequel is that of the behind-the-scenes talent, with Taika Waititi returning as writer-director after his work on Thor: Ragnarok. Waititi, labeled by Guardians of the Galaxy's Chris Pratt as both "madman" and "genius," clearly relishes his position, admitting to actively trolling fans about Love and Thunder. Even as Waititi's future with Marvel remains unclear, his present is certainly exciting.
Along with Waititi's signature style, which is clearly on display in what fans have already seen of Thor: Love and Thunder, also comes his unusual style of filmmaking, something which recent comments have help to shed light on.
Portman and Waititi’s Experience Making Thor 4
Talking with Variety about her upcoming return to the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder, Natalie Portman opened up about her experience working on the film, offering praise for director Taiki Waititi's unique process, calling it "a really baller way to work on a movie like this."
"There’s a script, but most days, he prefers to throw it completely away and just spitball. It’s a really baller way to work on a movie like this. It was daunting at first, because I was like, there’s no way for me to prepare. How am I supposed to do a good job? And then I think I learned how to enjoy it."
Portman also spoke to the packed cast of the upcoming Thor sequel, commenting on the somewhat unique quality of not having to be "the girl in the movie."
I haven’t had particularly bad workplace experiences, but I was usually the only female around. It’s just imbalanced. So it’s nice to feel the awareness of it. There doesn’t have to be the girl in the movie. There can be many women who have many different personalities and many different desires.
Waititi was also on hand for the interview, shedding light on the process of finalizing the film, which changed "all the way through post-production," also noting that "you have to go in blind and say, ’It’s going to be great."
What to Expect From Waititi With Thor 4
Portman's comments on Waititi's process are certainly insightful, helping to clarify just how much of the film is spontaneous. This approach worked wonders for Ragnarok, providing the film with a fresh, free-wheeling flavor, one that, alongside its more candy-colored visuals, helped it to stand out amongst the rest of the MCU.
Even so, these comments do beg the question: just how much of the film's script is improvised? Clips from Love and Thunder already appear to have a bit of that improv flavor, with the absurd dialogue and more relaxed shooting style seemingly indicating such an approach.
However, certain sequences, like those with Christian Bale's terrifying Gorr the God Butcher, are likely less loose, relating more to plot and character than off-the-wall humor.
In expressing her experience working on the film, Portman also helped explain something that makes the project unique. Few modern blockbusters star multiple female leads, especially in such prominent roles. This is also true of the MCU, even as films like The Marvels work to rebalance things, though notably so.
Waititi's insights, though certainly interesting, aren't too great of a surprise to fans who keep up to date on the post-production process of MCU movies. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which recently dropped onto streaming platforms, was subjected to severe changes, from the removal of a near-dozen cameos to the deep cuts made to the film's first edit.
Fans worried about the more eclectic style or improvisational approach taken with Thor: Love and Thunder won't have to wait long to have their fears confirmed or assuaged, as critic reactions are set to drop quite soon, right after the film's upcoming premiere on June 23.