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Thor: Love and Thunder: cast, release date, plot and what we know so far

Thor Love and Thunder
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Thor’s come a long way since he was banished to Earth in the original Kenneth Branagh-directed movie, way back in 2011. One of the founder members of the Avengers, the god of thunder went through a comedic reinvention in the brilliant sci-fi action-adventure of Thor: Ragnarok – a movie that remains one of the best to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Which is why we’ve been looking forward to the follow-up, Thor: Love and Thunder, ever since it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019.

Chris Hemsworth is playing the hammer-wielding Norse god on the big screen for the eighth time, while Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is back behind the camera. But the biggest news about the fourth solo Thor movie is that Natalie Portman is coming back to the franchise as Dr Jane Foster, the physicist who joined forces with Thor in the first two films. This time, however, Foster will be gaining god-like powers of her own, in a storyline inspired by Jason Aaron’s run on The Mighty Thor comic.

And with former Batman Christian Bale taking on Thor: Love and Thunder villain duties as Gorr the God Butcher – not to mention a guest appearance from the Guardians of the Galaxy – there are plenty of other reasons why this is one of the most eagerly anticipated movies on the MCU slate.

Here’s everything you need to know about Thor: Love and Thunder before it hits theaters in May 2021.

Thor: Love and Thunder release date: May 2022

The Thor: Love and Thunder release date is May 6, 2022. It was originally set for November 5, 2021, but like so many theatrical releases, it was pushed back by the coronavirus pandemic.

The movie’s shoot wrapped in Australia in June 2021 (as revealed in the tweet below), with Waititi now heading into the traditionally lengthy post-production process.

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Thor: Love and Thunder cast

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
  • Natalie Portman as Dr Jane Foster/Thor
  • Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher
  • Jaime Alexander as Sif
  • Taika Waititi as Korg
  • Russell Crowe as Zeus
  • Chris Pratt as Star-Lord
  • Dave Bautista as Drax
  • Karen Gillan as Nebula
  • Pom Klementieff as Mantis
  • Sean Gunn as Kraglin
  • Matt Damon as actor Loki
  • Liam Hemsworth as actor Thor
  • Sam Neill as actor Odin

You'll be pleasantly unsurprised to find out that we're going to see the return of Chris Hemsworth as the god of thunder – and some of his New Asgardian friends will be joining Odinson in the Thor: Love and Thunder cast. Tessa Thompson reprises her role as Valkyrie, while Waititi himself climbs back into his performance capture suit to play wannabe revolutionary Korg – a contender for the title of funniest character in the MCU.

From further back in the Thor back catalogue, Jaimie Alexander is reportedly returning as Asgardian warrior Sif (she was absent when her usual sidekicks, the Warriors Three, were bumped off in Thor: Ragnarok), along with Natalie Portman as Dr Jane Foster.

Having appeared in the original Thor and disappointing 2013 sequel Thor: The Dark World, Portman was nowhere to be seen in Thor: Ragnarok, as Thor spent most of the movie on the alien world of Sakaar. She’ll be back with a thoroughly beefed up role in Thor: Love and Thunder, however, as Foster wields Thor’s magical hammer, Mjolnir, and takes on the mantle of the goddess of thunder.

One Thor regular who (apparently) won’t be back to cause mischief is the thunder god’s adoptive brother Loki, now the subject of his own TV show on Disney Plus. "We have explored about as much as we can about these two brothers," star Tom Hiddleston explained. "We talked about the Thor movies as a family saga, and the diametric opposition between Thor and Loki, and duality and antagonism, being a book that perhaps should remain closed for the moment."

From elsewhere in the MCU, the Guardians of the Galaxy will be making an appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder, ahead of the release of their own third movie in 2023 – hardly surprising, seeing as Thor ended Avengers: Endgame in the company of Marvel’s most beloved bunch of a-holes.

Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), and Sean Gunn (Kraglin) are reportedly all back in action in the fourth Thor movie – and don’t be surprised if digital characters Rocket and Groot join them too.

Crossing over from another superhero universe, Batman Christian Bale becomes the latest actor to score roles as both DC and Marvel characters, as he takes on Thor: Love and Thunder villain duties as Gorr the God Butcher. Gorr ends up gaining some divine powers thanks to a series of unfortunate events, and then takes it upon himself to rid the universe of gods wherever he finds them. It'll be interesting to see how this character looks on the big screen, especially given Bale's love of transforming himself for his roles. 

Russell Crowe (who played Superman’s father, Jor-El, in Man of Steel – also joins the exclusive DC-plus-Marvel club) the actor has revealed (according to a report in Entertainment Weekly) that he’s playing Zeus in the new movie. Expect to see Greek and Norse mythology existing side-by-side in the MCU for the first time.

And there’ll also be cameos for Luke Hemsworth, Matt Damon and Sam Neill, returning as the actors playing Thor, Loki and Odin, respectively, in an in-movie play retelling the story of Asgard. Leaked set photos also suggest a major Hollywood star is playing Thor and Loki’s sister, Hela – but we won’t say her name here in case we ruin the surprise.

Thor: Love and Thunder trailer: expect a first look this year

There is no Thor: Love and Thunder trailer yet, and we wouldn't expect to see one until summer 2021 at the earliest – possibly over the weekend of July 23-25 at Comic-Con@Home

Thor: Love and Thunder plot: what we know about the movie's story

The cover to 2015's The Mighty Thor 1, published by Marvel Comics. 

The cover to 2015's The Mighty Thor 1, published by Marvel Comics.  (Image credit: Marvel)

We expect Thor: Love and Thunder to address the way we left the god of thunder at the end of Avengers: Endgame – that is, overweight, and palling up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. This movie will be released before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (due in 2023), so we expect that plot point to be touched upon here. Valkyrie was left as the ruler of New Asgard, a seaside village on Earth, so it'll also be interesting to see how their stories link up again. 

Love and Thunder will be inspired by the Thor comics of star Marvel writer Jason Aaron. In that comic, Odinson loses the ability to lift Mjolnir, and Jane Foster takes on the mantle of Thor, while simultaneously battling cancer in her human hours. 

"When we were shooting Ragnarok I was reading one storyline by Jason Aaron, The Mighty Thor," director/co-wroter Taika Waititi said on-stage at San Diego Comic Con 2020. "And for those of you who know that storyline, it's incredible, it's full of emotion, love and thunder, and it introduces, for the first time, female Thor. So, for us there's only one person who could play that role. Only one."

Natalie Portman was introduced on-stage during the event, wielding Mjolnir, confirming she's back to play the character.

Just as Thor: Ragnarok only superficially referenced the Planet Hulk storyline from Marvel's comics, we'd be surprised if Thor: Ragnarok film was a literal adaptation of that series. Instead, we expect a few elements to be lifted from the comics, but for the plot to be largely original. 

Waititi has previously described the film as "so over the top now in the very best way," after writing four or five drafts. "It makes Ragnarok seem like a really run of the mill, very safe film…this new film feels like we asked a bunch of 10-year-olds what should be in a movie and just said yes to everything."

Waititi also indicated that the overweight Thor stuff had been done already, which perhaps explains why Hemsworth is in such godly shape in all the photos that have leaked from the set.

More Thor makes a lot of sense

It's curious that Thor is the only solo series to get four movies in the MCU so far, but Ragnarok was something of a soft reset for the character. Waititi left behind the bland gods and prophecies and made a weird sci-fi comedy with some of the DNA of his other, earlier movies. And the return of Portman here has so much potential to show us new sides of the MCU.

It's no wonder Waititi's been lined up to direct a Star Wars movie after Thor: Love and Thunder. He just makes great, fun films. 

Samuel Roberts

Samuel is TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor, and an expert in Marvel, Star Wars, Netflix shows and general streaming stuff. He's previously spent six years at PC Gamer, too, so if you want to know which Command & Conquer is the best one, drop him a line.