This post contains THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER spoilers.
At the beginning of Thor: Love and Thunder, the kindly Kronun Korg invited us to gather around and hear the story of Thor, the Space Viking who lost his way. By the end of the movie, Thor seems to have found himself, discovering a new purpose caring for the daughter of his one-time enemy Gorr and traveling the stars righting any wrongs, wherever he finds them.
Along the way, Thor got some closure on his failed relationship with ex-girlfriend Jane Foster, who joined him and King Valkyrie as the Mighty Thor in a battle against Gorr the God-Butcher. The God-Butcher was thwarted, King Valkyrie made the first steps to transform New Asgard from a kitschy tourist trap to a proper warrior nation, and Jane made her way to Valhalla.
But as part of an ongoing narrative, even the happy ending of Thor: Love and Thunder doesn’t signal the end of the road for the thunder god. The questions still lingering may have major ramifications for the future of the MCU.
Is Jane Foster Really Dead?
It sure seems like it, especially in light of the post-credit sequence. Love and Thunder brings Dr. Jane Foster back into Thor’s orbit, her first appearance since Thor: The Dark World (not counting some archival footage used during the time heist sequence in Avengers: Endgame). But while she first bursts onto the scene as the Mighty Thor, wielding a reconstituted Mjolnir, her civilian identity is in stage four cancer. A protection spell Thor put on Mjolnir gives Jane the ability to become the Mighty Thor, the transformations sap her of her strength, accelerating her cancer.
During the climactic battle with Gorr the God Butcher, Jane becomes the Mighty Thor once again. Using her ability to throw Mjolnir shards, the Mighty Thor destroys Gorr’s necrosword, the god-killing weapon that had been rotting the villain’s soul. The battle stops Gorr’s rampage, but at the cost of Jane’s life, causing her to dissipate into gold dust.
Thanos’ snap notwithstanding, disappearing into dust is a pretty final death. But at least she died in battle, to be welcomed in the gates of Valhalla. Plus, given the fact that Portman seemed done with the MCU long ago, it’s hard to say she’s gone for good.
Who is Eternity?
Eternity isn’t so much a who as it is a “what”? A personification of the universe itself, Eternity takes a human form when engaging with characters – most often Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer. An abstract concept, Eternity rarely demonstrates anything that one would usually call a will. In the comics, Eternity generally shows up to address reality-warping events, but otherwise largely leaves sentient beings to their own devices. The wish-granting abilities shown in Love and Thunder were a new element added for the MCU.
In fact, Eternity and its sister Infinity (see below) often get involved with lesser creatures via its protector Captain Universe. Captain Universe is the name given to whoever is chosen by the Uni-Power, a force that gives users the Enigma Power and makes them the Guardian of Eternity. In addition to flight and incredible strength, the Enigma Power also grants Captain Universe matter manipulation abilities and cosmic awareness, the ability to know what is happening in any part of the universe.
In the comics, Captains Universe have included Peter Parker and a random dog. But in the MCU, it appears that Gorr’s daughter will be taking up the mantle. Gorr makes it to Eternity and is granted a wish, but only after the necrosword is destroyed, freeing him from its corrupting influence. Instead of wishing for the destruction of all gods, Gorr wishes for the return of his daughter. As the daughter reappears, we see a starfield in her shadow, in the exact pattern of Captain Universe.
So Gorr Has Been Redeemed?
Well, that depends on what you mean by “redeemed.” Gorr killed a lot of gods, and while some of them definitely had it coming, the movie definitely asks us to sympathize with Thor and other gods under threat. That said, the movie is fuzzy about how much Gorr should be held accountable for his actions. The film’s opening scene makes us sympathize with Gorr, but by the time the God Butcher is mocking the children he kidnapped, it’s clear that he’s a full on baddy.
That lack of clarity may be a byproduct of the movie’s heavy editing, which left many scenes on the cutting room floor. Whatever the reason, the climax of the movie tries to have it both ways. When the Mighty Thor destroys the necrosword, Gorr is free to make decisions for himself. But the movie also wants tension going into his wish with Eternity, making the audience wonder if Gorr will get rid of all the gods.
One gets the feeling that the resurrection of Gorr’s daughter sets up a post-mortem redemption, in which she and Thor do good works that undo her father’s harm. But, frankly, the movie doesn’t have enough thematic clarity to make that point effectively.
Go Back, Who Are Those Statues in the Hall of Eternity?
Although Eternity gets most of the attention in the final battle, those busts lining the hall aren’t just set-dressing. Leading up to Eternity’s portal, we see three giant busts on both walls, each containing the visage of important cosmic characters.
Half of the faces are those we’ve seen before, namely the Watcher from What If…?, a Celestial as featured in Guardians of the Galaxy and Eternals, and Zeus, ruler of Omnipotence City. But the other three are new to those who don’t read the comics.
The figure on the left side of the hall and farthest away (from Eternity’s perspective) is Infinity, the sister to Eternity. Another embodiment of an abstract concept, Infinity personifies space. Infinity is also extremely powerful and rarely interacts with finite beings. At the front of that line, we see a hooded figure with a skull face. That is Death, another embodiment of an abstract concept, but one with far more interaction with finite beings. Most notably, she is the lover of Thanos, who (in the comics) destroys half of the universe in an attempt to impress her.
Opposite Death is the most notable of the busts, as it features a head with three constantly rotating faces. That is the Living Tribunal, the second-most powerful figure in the Marvel Universe. A representative of the One Above All (basically God in the Marvel Universe, who looks like Stan Lee or Jack Kirby in its rare appearances), the Living Tribunal exists to judge and enforce multiversal laws.
What Does This Mean For Thor and the MCU?
The movie began with Thor wandering the cosmos, looking for his purpose. It ends with Thor wandering the cosmos, this time with purpose. That purpose comes in the form of Gorr’s daughter, which might strike some as cheesy. But wWhen examined in light of the stakes set up by the past few Thor appearances. As Korg points out, Thor has lost a lot of his family members, so the establishment of a new family makes for a clear resolution to his midlife crisis.
Furthermore, the introduction of a Captain Universe continues the cosmic push in Marvel’s Phase Four. Over the past few Phase Four entries, we’ve seen the continuing introduction of characters aware of forces beyond our imagination, including The One Who Remains/Kang in Loki, the Eternals, and whoever is receiving the signals emitted by Shang-Chi’s rings. Ms. Marvel is continuing this trend, as her bangle has connections to other realities and may be a Nega-Band, a powerful weapon often used by Captain Marvel. Taken together, it’s clear that Love and Thunder continues the MCU’s trek into even more high-concept territory.