Thor 4 may not be the funny Marvel movie we expect it to be

Thor looks concerned as he stares at a giant dead creature in Thor: Love and Thunder teaser trailer
Thor 4 might not be a laugh-a-minute spectacle when it arrives in July. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Thor: Love and Thunder will deal with far more serious themes than its predecessor – Thor: Ragnarok – did.

That's according to director Taika Waititi, who told Entertainment Weekly (EW) that the god of thunder's fourth solo Marvel movie won't be as hilarious or wacky as fans expect it to be.

Released in late April, the first Thor 4 teaser implied that the Marvel Phase 4 film would be another action-packed and witty offering from Waititi. However, the JoJo Rabbit and What We Do in the Shadows director suggested fans shouldn't expect Ragnarok's follow-up to be as "festive" or packed with laughs, what with the deep, meaningful themes that Love and Thunder explores.

"Ragnarok felt a bit like a party," Waititi explained to EW. "It was quite festive. This one is still fun, and it's got moments of being over the top, but thematically, it's about something a bit deeper than the last film. 

"It's not a serious film, and it's not a drama, but we do deal with ideas that I think a lot of humans deal with – universal themes about love and loss and our place in the world. Everyone sort of asks this question in the film: What is your purpose? What is the reason that you're a hero, and what do you do when you have these powers?"

A smiling Thor and Korg stare up into the sky in the Thor: Love and Thunder trailer

Thor and Korg will go on a buddy cop-style adventure in the former's fourth solo movie. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

That isn't to say that Thor: Love and Thunder will be devoid of humor – far from it, in fact. But, as Waititi explained, his second Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superhero flick needed to explore new, unexpected territory. Not only for Chris Hemsworth's Thor, but also to push the boundaries of the MCU itself.

"What I didn't want to do is just make Ragnarok again, because that's been done," Waititi continued. "I needed to do something more interesting for myself to keep the whole thing ignited and to make sure that I'm feeling creatively stimulated. I thought, What's the least expected thing with this franchise?

"It's sort of like a midlife crisis film, really. That's the question we ask everyone: Are we doing the right thing, and are we doing all we can in the world? I think right now, while the world is still healing from this pandemic, it's a good question to ask. It's like, well, are we doing enough to look after each other and to look after ourselves?"

Thor: Love and Thunder will be the next Marvel movie to arrive exclusively in theaters. The Norse god's next solo outing will be released on July 8, exactly one month after Ms Marvel – the next MCU TV series – makes landfall on Disney Plus.

For more Marvel-based content, check out our ending explainer and all cameos articles for Doctor Strange 2. Alternatively, read up on which director may be replacing Jon Watts on Marvel's Fantastic Four movie.

Analysis: perfectly balanced, in every way

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in the Thor Love and Thunder poster

Thor: Love and Thunder should balance humor and heart when it lands in theaters. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

As wonderful as Thor: Ragnarok is, it seems that Waititi has found a better balance between his signature humor and the heartfelt, universal themes that are sure to be at play in Love and Thunder.

Ragnarok was a breath of fresh air for the god of thunder in the MCU. Until Waititi showed up, Thor was positioned as a serious superhero severely lacking in personality. The superhero's third solo movie gave him a new lease of life, though, with its laughs-a-minute and 80s-style plot allowing Hemsworth and company to really lean into the comedic side of their acting talents.

As Waititi notes above, however, Love and Thunder couldn't follow the same formula or narrative that Ragnarok did. Fans would have been quick to install it as nothing more than a Ragnarok clone if it had followed a similar story or retread old ground from a humor perspective.

Given his arc in the last two Avengers films, too, Thor has gone through enough pain and suffering to last a lifetime – and, as a god of sorts, that's a long lifetime. He's also undergone plenty of character development in his more recent MCU outings, so he's not the same individual that we saw in 2012's Avengers or even Ragnarok itself.

Clearly, then, Love and Thunder needs to tell a story that's not only funny, but also thematically resonant. When we find Thor at the start of this film, he'll be going through a midlife crisis – and the arrival of Jane Foster's Mighty Thor and Gorr the God Butcher (plus the problems that come with them) will only force him to face up to the existential issues he's going through. In that sense, Thor 4 will be an emotionally deeper film than we've been led to believe.

And that's a good thing. The character has already evolved from a one-note, serious individual to a funnier (if slightly wacky) person. The irony, though, is that Thor was in danger of becoming too amusing or eccentric, which would have brought his MCU arc full circle and made him a one-dimensional character once more.

Thankfully, it sounds like Thor: Love and Thunder will push him out of his comfort zone again, with Waititi keen not to walk a road that Thor has already traveled. Hopefully, Love and Thunder will be – to use Thanos' well-known phrase – perfectly balanced in every way, but especially from humor and heartfelt standpoints.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.