How do you follow up Thor: Ragnarok? That was the question facing Thor: Love and Thunder co-writer and director Taika Waititi, who returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time since his effort to "Ragna-wreck and reinvent" the "boring" Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in 2017's Ragnarok. The Thor threequel stripped the Asgardian Avenger of his enchanted hammer, shaved his golden-haired head, and destroyed the God of Thunder's home world of Asgard — all after a not-mutual breakup with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), the romantic lead of 2011's Thor and 2013's Thor: The Dark World. In Love and Thunder, out July 8, Waititi shakes up Thor's world again when Jane returns wielding Mjolnir as The Mighty Thor.
"In some ways, I kind of wish Ragnarok wasn't so good. Because this is a hard film to follow up that one with," Waititi told Rolling Stone. "Because you're promising stuff to be like, 'Oh, it's gonna be crazy. It's gonna be bigger. It's gonna be more bombastic' I mean, I think it is. We've got a Viking ship that goes through space with two giant goats towing it. And two Thors and Russell Crowe. So what could be crazier than that this summer?"
Waititi continued, "What I wanted to do, to push it in a different direction, was to make it romantic. They kind of touched a little bit on the romance stuff in the first two films, but they didn't really lean into the love aspect. And I was like, well, we've seen Thor in that big [Jack] Kirby-esque world of all the color and pop art in Ragnarok. What would the fans least expect? Thor in love! What do the fans not want? Thor in love! What would really piss the fans off? And we're doing that."
Ragnarok arrived with a 100% approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes before settling at 93% certified fresh as one of the best-rated Marvel movies. The first Thor: Love and Thunder reactions aren't quite as glowing — or electrifying — landing with a so-far 72% "fresh" after the review embargo released July 5.
"Taika, normally, is kind of at an 11, so you can do the math there," Hemsworth told Australia's TODAY. "He described it as like he'd been given the keys to the kingdom, and someone said, 'Here, if a seven-year-old was making a movie, what would you do?' He said, 'Well, I want to put this in it. I want to do this. I want to try this.' And everything he suggested, I said yes to, and then we had this insane film in front of us."
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 only in theaters July 8.