Thor: Ragnarok marked a massive shift for Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder as Taika Waititi directed the character into more fun and comedic territory within the MCU. Now with Thor: Love and Thunder's release date just a few short weeks away, everyone is wondering whether the director can do it again with Thor's fourth solo movie.
Thor: Ragnarok has always been a high point for the God of Thunder, garnering the most critical acclaim out of the three Thor movies. Coming into the fourth outing, expectations are already high, with Waititi describing it as "crazier" and "very different" from Ragnarok. Does different mean better though?
Now that Thor: Love and Thunder's world premiere has taken place, critics' first reactions have hit the internet. The good news is that they are overwhelmingly positive, but how does Thor's fourth adventure stack up to his last?
Thor: Ragnarok vs Love and Thunder
Among the many positive reactions from critics who have seen Thor: Love and Thunder so far, many of them have inevitably compared it to its predecessor, Thor: Ragnarok.
Jacob Kleinman from Inverse said Thor: Love and Thunder "can't quite match the visual or comedy bombast of Ragnarok" but that the film still features one of the "most stunning visual sequences in MCU history".
"I saw Thor: Love And Thunder. It can't quite match the visual or comedy bombast of Ragnarok, but Taika Waititi makes up for it with an emotionally mature Marvel movie. It's also very funny (Natalie's got jokes) and features one of the most stunning visual sequences in MCU history."
The Movie Podcast's Daniel Baptista said the new Thor movie "can't quite reach the high bar set by Ragnarok" claiming it "misses on the story".
"Thor: Love And Thunder is a swashbuckling adventure that doesn’t reach the high bar set by Ragnarok. Christian Bale steals every scene but wish we had more of him. Mighty Thor while awesome, feels undeveloped. It embraces the pulp and has fun moments, but misses on the story."
Over at Discussing Film, Andrew J. Salazar said Love and Thunder "gets better when it's not trying to desperately recapture the magic of Ragnarok".
"Thor: Love And Thunder gets better when it's not trying to desperately recapture the magic of Ragnarok. Most of the humor doesn't land as well as it did the first time, but Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, & Christian Bale do the best with it."
Fandom's Eric Goldman said "I don't think it's quite as great as Ragnarok" but that Thor: Love and Thunder "comes incredibly close".
"I am very happy with Thor: Love And Thunder! I don’t think it’s quite as great as Ragnarok, but it comes incredibly close and actually has some aspects that outshine it. Taika Waititi continues to be a perfect fit for these movies and Hemsworth and Portman are so good together."
Awards Radar's Joey Magidson also rated both Thor films similarly, saying Love and Thunder is "more evidence that Taika Waititi knows how to make Thor a blast."
"Thor: Love and Thunder is a fun, tight, and largely self contained Marvel adventure. If not quite as much of a surprise as Ragnarok, this is more evidence that Taika Waititi knows how to make Thor a blast. Heart/humor mix again to make for a real good time."
Meanwhile, a couple of critics were very much in Thor: Love and Thunder's corner. Lyra Hale from Fangirlish praised the movie highly, saying she hadn't "laughed that hard since Ragnarok".
"Thor: Love and Thunder is the GREATEST movie Marvel has made so far! I'm not joking. I haven't laughed that hard since Ragnarok and I feel invested in Marvel again in a way that I haven't since Endgame. Also, bring tissues. The journey is *chefs kiss* from start to finish!"
Film critic Scott Mantz said he believed Waititi's new Thor movie was "even BETTER than Ragnarok".
"THOR: LOVE & THUNDER is a TOTAL BLAST! Even BETTER than 'RAGNAROK,' and one of the BEST MCU MOVIES! Chris Hemsworth is a friggin’ ROCK STAR & Natalie Portman is a TOTAL BADASS! Director Taika Waititi has done it again! Thor: Love And Thunder IS AWESOME!"
Plenty of Love and Thunder For Thor
The reactions to Thor: Love and Thunder so far are split fairly evenly over which of Waititi's Thor movies is the best.
One of the main takeaways seems to be that Love and Thunder provides more of what was great from Ragnarok, but that it may miss on certain aspects like the story. Ironically, one of the negatives that was pointed out by critics is that Thor: Love and Thunder just tries too hard to emulate its predecessor.
As a few critics noted, Thor: Ragnarok had already set the bar quite high. Waititi managed to capture lightning in a bottle when he reinvigorated Thor's character the first time around, so it was always going to be difficult to top that in the sequel. Regardless, the reactions to the film remain positive, so it sounds like audiences are in for a fun ride.
It's unclear whether another Thor movie is on the cards after Love and Thunder but judging by these early reactions, Waititi is welcome to continue directing the God of Thunder's stories, especially since Chris Hemsworth is keen to keep the ball rolling.
Thor: Love and Thunder releases in cinemas on July 8.