Connect with us

Movies News

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Misunderstands What Makes Jane Foster a Hero

Published

on

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Misunderstands What Makes Jane Foster a Hero

Editor’s note: The following article contains spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder.

Taika Waititi’s return to the MCU with Thor: Love and Thunder has been highly anticipated since the film was announced, but there might just be one other person who fans are looking forward to seeing back in the epic franchise even more: Natalie Portman. Returning for the first time since Thor: The Dark World, Portman rejoins the fourth Thor film as Doctor Jane Foster, the genius love interest to Chris Hemsworth’s titular hero, but this time with a twist: she, too, can wield the mystical power of Thor.

The introduction of Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor is a plotline many fans have been looking forward to, drawing inspiration from her popular solo run by writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman where Jane is deemed worthy of wielding the hammer Mjolnir and becomes a heroine herself. Portman is a celebrated star across a number of Disney’s popular franchises, so to see her return to team with Waititi, whose work on Thor: Ragnarok was so widely praised, is certainly exciting for many longtime Marvel fans.

Advertisement

But there’s just one catch: the MCU is not the comics, having twisted origin stories and comic plotlines to fit actors’ contracts or the limits of modern CGI, so an honest adaptation of Jane’s run as Mighty Thor isn’t entirely possible. In fact, the MCU is so bogged-down in its own separate timeline it forgets why Jane is such a good hero — primarily because the film is so determined to make its mark as a comedy.

RELATED: ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’: All the Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed

It’s obvious that Love and Thunder’s biggest issue lies in its pacing. With so many new and returning characters and handfuls of cameos to cram into a two-hour film, the film stretches itself thin trying to cover so many things at once, while also trying to maintain the irreverent comedy that Taika Waititi is so well-known for. (Nevermind that the reason Ragnarok worked wasn’t its comedy, but the commentary that lied underneath.) The biggest victim of that lack of rhythm is, without a doubt, Jane, who is introduced almost as an aside, rather than as one of two primary protagonists. What we see of Jane when she’s introduced gives us no substance to hold on, no more information than what we previously knew about her, despite her inclusion in the film being marketed as one of the most important aspects of the entire story.


Advertisement

We know almost nothing of what’s happened to Jane in the “eight years, seven months, and six days” since we last saw her in Thor: The Dark World, other than the fact that she was the one to leave Thor after feeling stifled by his constant duty to the Avengers. (And I’m sorry, we’re supposed to feel bad for Thor because of that?) We’re given no catch-up, no “and that’s what you missed on Glee” moment the same way we are with Thor, who proceeds to One Punch Man an entire alien army through the strength of…what, weight lifting and ignoring his feelings? Believe me, if that actually worked, half the men in my life could be Avengers with half the effort.

From the beginning, the only parts of Jane we see are filtered either entirely through Thor’s point of view, and because of this, Love and Thunder very quickly loses its understanding of Jane Foster as a character. Audiences are given nothing to latch onto because of the film’s quick pace and desire to stuff as many jokes into its thin lining as possible, so all that makes her worthy of wielding Mjolnir — her inner strength, her mind, and her conviction — is left by the wayside, and Jane becomes a shallow imitation of what she once was, existing not to continue the legacy of the Mighty Thor and her own self-realization, but to fuel Thor’s own emotional discovery. She doesn’t quite slip into manic pixie dream girl territory, but it’s very nearly there.


What Love and Thunder attempts to do with Jane could have worked, if Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson hadn’t focused so entirely on making the film a funny movie rather than a good movie. The film very quickly forgets what made audiences love Ragnarok so much, and in its desperate attempts to be seen as funny, rather than deep, moving, or otherwise meaningful, Love and Thunder’s dialogue turns Jane into just another female love interested by severely undermining not only her struggle with cancer, but also the intelligence that is the foundation of her character.

In a particularly heinous moment early in the film, Jane — a respected and published scientist — tries to hurry along her chemotherapy infusion by squeezing the bag slowly dripping a drug solution into her veins, in an attempt to get things to go faster so she can get back to her lab to work on her own attempts at curing her cancer. The moment doesn’t sit right from the beginning, as she comes off more impatient and distracted than she ever has been before, and the obvious attempt at a joke only serves to make the audience deeply uncomfortable, not to mention confused at her sudden change of heart.


Advertisement

While her nihilistic jokes about her condition not being serious feel real and tangible (at least to a nihilistic Gen-Z audience), what makes anyone think that a woman as level-headed and reasonable as Doctor Jane Foster wouldn’t trust the proven scientific fact in front of her, even if she thinks she can one-up it? While she’s been plunged headfirst into a world of gods and monsters, two films’ worth of screentime has more than proven that Jane still believes in the power of science, and to make a joke out of her treatment not only undermines the serious reality she’s living with, but also the intellect that is just as useful to her character, if not more than, her powers once she wields Mjolnir.

The treatment of Jane as airheaded doesn’t change once she’s wearing her Mighty Thor garb either. Large portions of the film’s jokes are directed at how inexperienced she is at being a superhero, and the way Jane acts as Thor makes her seem almost like a child playing dress-up rather than an adult woman who’s gone through not one, but two nearly world-ending battles alongside Thor himself. Her brilliance and practical problem-solving are sidelined for flat jokes about not being able to come up with a good catchphrase, and while she pulls her weight in battle, she is repeatedly characterized as withering and simple compared to Thor, who never quite figures out what to do with her now that she’s not head-over-heels for him any longer.


Sure, Jane is now able to kick ass just as well as Thor and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), but she’s nothing more than that. The film offers no deep or poignant commentary on her desperate fight for life, and what her newfound rage symbolizes in terms of her journey with cancer, and the fact that she can no longer do the work she values so highly. Compared to Wanda Maximoff, the equally strong and equally rage filled female lead of May’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, she’s nothing more than a space filler, a character whose lines could easily have been spoken by Valkyrie or another female character. (At least replacing her with the leg lamp is a stretch, thank God.)

She exists as nothing more than a joke machine used to crank out lines about how weird being a superhero is, as though Marvel hadn’t beat that horse to Valhalla and back when the first Avengers movie came out ten years ago. The same thing happens to Valkyrie, though it feels more forgivable in her case, having been introduced as comedic relief in the first place. Nothing of what made Portman’s portrayal of Jane memorable in the first place exists in the Jane of Love and Thunder, and it makes the entire Mighty Thor b-plot almost boring.


Advertisement

Thor’s stories have always been lackluster compared to the rest of the Avengers, but at least Kenneth Branagh’s first film gave Portman something to do as the figure connecting the human world and the divine. There, she is a genius, a woman who doesn’t need to have super-strength or the ability to travel the Bifrost in order to be a hero. Hell, half the reason she works so well as the Mighty Thor in the comics is because she doesn’t need to rely entirely on mystical powers to get the job done!

There’s also the matter of Waititi and co. changing the reason Jane transforms into the Mighty Thor in the first place. In the comics, she is still suffering from cancer, but is chosen by the hammer Mjolnir after Thor loses the ability to wield it in battle. The hammer believes her to ultimately be worthy of possessing the power of Thor, despite her struggles, and she exists as a separate entity from Thor Odinson, with her own long-running comics series.

In the film, Mjolnir “chooses” Jane not because of her own worthiness, but because of what we see in a flashback to when she and Thor were still a happy couple. A happy-go-lucky, ABBA-soundtracked montage, the scene features Thor making Mjolnir promise that it will always protect Jane, no matter what — even if it means coming back from the “dead” after being smashed to pieces by his villainous sister Hela. By putting the hammer in service to its original owner rather than allowing it to choose its new one in the first place, Love and Thunder takes away Jane’s agency and undermines her as a true, worthy hero, turning her transformation from a moment of true triumph to that of a lackluster sidekick, along for the ride only because her ex deemed her important enough to be there.


Even her ultimate demise at the end of the film isn’t about coming to terms with her own demise, but works in service to Thor’s emotional journey. While a post-credits scene does imply that she may be back for future films, this is where she steers closest to manic pixie dream girl territory, as the only scene of Jane’s (and one of the few in the entire film) that isn’t played for laughs. Dying in Thor’s arms mirrors Jane’s end in her Mighty Thor comics run, but having been a flat, flimsy version of herself to begin with, her ultimate demise carries no weight, except as a plot device.

Advertisement

Waititi has a consistent problem with making his female characters either flat comic relief (ex: Jackie van Beek in What We Do in the Shadows) or tragic motivation for his heroes, i.e., Scarlett Johannson in Jojo Rabbit, and it seems that Jane Foster has somehow managed to become both in Love and Thunder. Will it matter in the grand scheme of the MCU, or even just Phase Four? Probably not, what with the way the entire machine seems to lack a cohesive understanding of how it wants to move forward into the future. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t disappointing.


Check out more mighty stories about ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’:

Thor: Love and Thunder — Review: Taika Waititi Reinvigorates Phase 4 With Comedy, Heart, and a Pair of Screaming Goats

Natalie Portman on ‘Thor: Love and Thunder,’ Deleted Scenes, and Playing The Mighty Thor

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Featurette Explores the Hero’s Journey and Legacy

Advertisement

Movies News

Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Published

on

By

Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

Advertisement

The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

Advertisement

Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movies News

Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

Published

on

By

According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

Advertisement

To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

Continue Reading

Movies News

Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

Published

on

By

Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

Advertisement

Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

Continue Reading

Trending