This article contains major Thor: Love and Thunder spoilers
Love is a force greater than hate. That simple yet enduring message is at the heart of Thor: Love and Thunder—and to the movie’s credit, the meaning comes through in a way no one expected. Going into the theater for the fourth adventure of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor Odinson, most audiences likely anticipated the new film to be a sweet romantic comedy between Thor and Natalie Portman’s returned Dr. Jane Foster, aka the Mighty Thor. It is called “Love and Thunder,” after all.
But as it turns out, the “Love” in Thor 4’s title is not about the bittersweet romance rekindled between Thor and Jane. Nay, this is the tale of a parent’s love for their child finally filling the hole inside their heart. And who better to make Hemsworth’s Thor whole than India Rose Hemsworth, the actor’s real-life daughter?
Yep, that’s 10-year-old India Rose, daughter of Chris and his wife Elsa Pataky (who also appears briefly in the movie’s earliest montage as one of Thor’s wolfish old flames). In the film, India Rose plays the unnamed daughter of Gorr, Christian Bale’s tragic villain who begins the story as a father who’s lost his child. For days and nights he walked across a barren desert with the poor lass in his arms, forsaken by his gods and soon vengeful toward them. Bale’s character uses the darkest nightmare of any parent to fuel his rage, becoming Gorr the God Butcher.
For the record, this is mostly how Gorr’s story begins in the comics as well, but Thor: Love and Thunder has little to do with how that yarn ends. On the page, Gorr becomes another megalomaniacal monster—the “God of Hypocrisy” he is finally dubbed—ignoring psychic constructs of his dead son and wife as he attempts to murder all deities in the multiverse. Eventually, Thor is able to triumphantly behead him, ending Gorr’s reign of terror. In the new movie though? It is not an act of extreme violence that defeats Gorr; it’s Love herself.
Upon reaching Eternity, aka the center of the universe, Gorr is allotted one wish from the cosmos. The whole film he’s intended to wish for the death of all gods. Yet, upon seeing Thor preferring to comfort a dying Jane instead of doing further battle with him, the God Butcher is reminded that love is more powerful than his hate of gods. For was it not the love of a child that set him down this dark path? Thor and Jane gently remind him he could wish for his ultimate revenge, sure, but if the universe could grant him anything he wished, wouldn’t he rather have his daughter back from the dead?
And that is exactly what Gorr does with his final breath—bringing back the child he lost. It is a sentimental but refreshingly tender resolution for a superhero movie’s villain, especially one as vile-seeming as the God Butcher. And through the return of his child, a child the Marvel Universe will soon come to know as simply “Love,” Gorr doesn’t just redeem his character’s journey; he also concludes Thor’s.
Ever since the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok, where Hemsworth’s Odinson was introduced to be a bit aimless since abdicating his claim to the throne in Thor: The Dark World, Thor has seemed adrift. We learned in that movie Jane dumped him off-screen, which Love and Thunder greatly expanded on. Yet there was more than just the loss of romantic love gnawing at Thor. There was a loss of purpose. Born and raised by a stern father with many skeletons in his closet, Thor was always intended to be Odin’s true son… an heir to follow in the All Father’s footsteps.
But recall there was always a distance between Thor and Anthony Hopkins’ Odin. Despite living together for hundreds of years, their communication was so poor that Odin banished Thor when the son revealed proud, boastful tendencies in 2011’s Thor. The irony is that Odin’s own proud and bloodthirsty youth was far worse once we learn his history in Thor: Ragnarok, a movie in which Odin also reveals on his proverbial deathbed that Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) have an older sister the All Father never told them about. This omission costs the lives of hundreds of Asgardians.
Thor and Odin’s relationship was forever one of frustration, secrets, and unspoken estrangement. So after the loss of such a father, as well as his lover, Thor fell into a funk. He attempted to reluctantly take his father’s mantle at the end of Ragnarok, but the crown never really fit. “That’s not me,” he might say while quoting another fantasy character. Hence at the end of Avengers: Endgame he again relinquishes his father’s throne and legacy to one who is more worthy: Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
Through it all, Thor has been lonely and aloof, surrendering to sorrow after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and then listlessness when Endgame concluded. He’s been searching, and no matter how many trippy adventures he went on with the Guardians of the Galaxy, he appeared unable to find that indescribable purpose.
This changes with Thor: Love and Thunder. The title, again, seemed to hint at a redeemed romance with Jane Foster. Yet while the two find closure, that’s not what this is about. This is the story of how in his middle age, Thor realizes his purpose. He discovers the Love of being a parent.
Hence the delightful casting of Hemsworth’s real-life daughter in the role of Love, the resurrected child of Gorr. Before Gorr dies, he frets in his fatally wounded state if he’d be a fool to wish his daughter back into existence. Who will take care of her? Who will love her? “She’ll be loved,” insists the also fading Jane. She knows who would be a great father.
And so it is that Thor becomes the affectionate and loving father Odin always failed to be. Rather than keep Love at a distance, he now flies in a dream home. Inside, it’s a domestic, suburban bliss. Outside, it looks like a decrepit starship. Think of it like the TARDIS by way of Leave It to Beaver.
It’s in this home that Thor finally finds peace with Love by his side, and together they will continue to cut a kick-ass Space Viking path across the cosmos as “Love and Thunder.” Remember, this is still Thor. Technically, Hemsworth is poised to return for more Marvel movies after Thor: Love and Thunder. But honestly, this feels like a pretty perfect grace note for his version of the character. He’s a father with his daughter, carrying on a family business.
Thor: Love and Thunder is in theaters now.