I’ve never seen a Marvel movie – so why not start with Thor: Love and Thunder? | Movies
There are 29 movies in the Marvel Universe – and until recently, I hadn’t seen any of them.
Once there is this so many movies, so many heroes, villains, intrigues, deaths, lost worlds, worlds found, monsters destroyed, it’s too late to start. But out of the blue, an email arrived from Marvel Studios. It was an invitation to enter the universe – albeit at this late and decadent stage of the empire. Would I attend the Australian premiere of Thor: Love and Thunder?
The Daily Mail described the premiere as emblematic of Sydney’s sad decline from an exciting nightlife capital to a boring city full of fake celebrities. “The Thor screening oddly saw bonafide celebrities like Chris Hemsworth sharing the red carpet with obscure reality TV has-beens,” the courier was moaning. “There were only a handful of true A-listers spotted among the sea of low profile ‘celebrities’ at Monday’s premiere.”
I was one of the “unknown losers” on the red carpet mentioned by the Mail – as was my brother Justin, a primary school teacher from Geelong who knows and loves all the Marvel movies.
After collecting our lanyards, we were released onto the red carpet. The crowd along the barriers consisted of three Marvel fans waiting in the rain for a glimpse of director Taika Waititi or Hemsworth. And there was us – emerging a bit dazed into a carpeted area the size of a small stockyard paddock.
The silence was deafening. Crowds, once pressed in anticipation by the barriers, were now looking at their phones, or along the line for real celebrities.
This experience was alarming for my brother and I – part of a traumatic sibling bond that we will never forget or talk about again. We left as quickly as possible, entering a lobby that peeled off for… two more red carpets! Nope!
One was for famous people (Jessica Rowe was right in front of us), with paparazzi and TV crews waiting. The other red carpet was packed with non-famous people taking selfies. They were our people!
There were Thor G&Ts, Thor branded water bottles, Thor popcorn, Thor baseball caps. But just who has been Thor? What was so great about the guy that he had a G&T named after him? I tried to find out as much as I could about my brother before it started:
Where is it fixed? New Asgard.
Why was it shot in Australia? For tax breaks and because Chris Hemsworth loves filming here.
What Thor movie number is this? Four.
Why don’t they call it Thor 4. (Withered look.)
Or Four Thor? (The silence.)
Before the film started, Waititi and Hemsworth joined the audience for a chat, which underscored how little I knew about the franchise.
“We wanted to put Thor through more human issues and what better way to do that than to put him through a midlife crisis?” Waititi said, but I wondered if a midlife crisis would make sense without knowing what had happened before. “What’s the one thing that would really bother Thor fans? asked Waititi. “Love! My mission with Thor is to give the fans something they didn’t know they wanted but really needed. Love, I could fall behind. Love, I could understand.
But the opening scenes of the film were not very promising. He looked totally dark. There was a ghoul with a tattooed face. He looked desiccated, like a coconut – was there no water on his planet? Was it about climate change? Who was this sinister man? “It’s Christian Bale!” exclaimed my brother.
Suddenly the mood changed. Thor has appeared! He had great hair and his voice had the tenor of Richard Burton if put in a blender with Russell Crowe. There were psychedelic colors, there were weird monsters with New Zealand accents. Was it Enya? And that was Guns N’ Roses? It was like a TikTok feature film, like a lava lamp, like a pinball machine. It was unexpectedly, almost from the start, deeply hilarious.
I had avoided the Marvel Cinematic Universe because I thought it would be heavy and boring, full of self-important saviors and leaden plotlines. But it was light, funny and relatively easy to follow. It wasn’t entirely satirical – he took his world seriously – but the characters were really, really fun (except Christian Bale).
Perhaps the funniest performance is Russell Crowe as Zeus, who delivers an incredible Greek accent that, to my ears, has Con the Fruiterer intonations. In a scene where Crowe’s accent had to rival Hemsworth’s naked body, the accent won by a mustache.
Being a Marvel newbie, there were a lot of things I didn’t understand. Why is Natalie Portman’s character called Jane, but also Thor? And what about the almost anthropomorphic relationship between the characters and their weapons? “It must be hard for you to see your ex-girlfriend and your ex-Hammer hanging out and getting along so well,” Korg tells Thor. Eh?
But I loved that movie, and I’m now going back to see the other Thors (upside down). In life, as in a universe of superheroes, it’s never too late to start.