Lightning isn't striking twice for Thor: Love and Thunder. The first reviews for director Taika Waititi's follow-up to Thor: Ragnarok, the glowingly-reviewed reinvention of Chris Hemsworth's Thor, thundered online Tuesday to a less-mightier reception than its 2017 predecessor. Teaming Thor with Jane Foster's Mjolnir-wielding Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman) after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios' Thor: Love and Thunder currently sits at 70% approval from critics for a "fresh" Rotten Tomatoes score at the time of publishing. With 138 critics' reviews counted, the 29th MCU movie's score is lower than Ragnarok (93% certified fresh) and 2011's Thor (77% certified fresh), but above 2013's Thor: The Dark World (66% fresh).
While Ragnarok ranks among the highest-rated Marvel Cinematic Universe movies — placing fifth behind Black Panther (96%), Avengers: Endgame (94%), Iron Man (94%), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (93%) — Love and Thunder has debuted among the lowest-rated movies on the reviews aggregator.
As of late Tuesday, the opposite end of the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer consists of Iron Man 2 (certified fresh at 72%), Thor: Love and Thunder (fresh at 70%), The Incredible Hulk (fresh at 67%), Thor: The Dark World (fresh at 66%), and Eternals (rotten at 47%), which remains the lowest-rated MCU movie and Marvel Studios' only "rotten" score.
ComicBook critic Jenna Anderson writes in a spoiler-free review, "When Ragnarok made its debut in 2017, it proved to be a balm that the MCU hadn't quite known it needed, injecting the previously painfully serious Thor movies with Jack Kirby-esque bright aesthetics, '80s camp, and a cleverly profound emotional core. To an extent, Ragnarok established a new tonal shorthand for what the MCU could be capable of going forward, and it would have been easy to imagine Love and Thunder as essentially delivering the same, but on a more extravagant scale."
The review continues, "Instead, the film takes on a tone that, even at its most neon-hued or painfully absurd, could be best described as relaxed. There are obviously still stakes to Love and Thunder, almost all of which are matters of life or death, but they're decidedly of a smaller and more personal scale compared to Ragnarok, and even to the larger landscape of superhero blockbusters. Through it all, the film's breezy but earnest disposition remains, largely in part thanks to how Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson approach dialogue, with some of the movie's best scenes essentially consisting of two characters simply having a conversation."
Thor is tracking to electrify the box office with a mighty $300 million global opening when Love and Thunder rolls out for Thursday previews on July 7.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe as Zeus, Jaimie Alexander as Sif, and Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper as the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios' Thor: Love and Thunder opens exclusively in theaters on July 8.