Thor: Love and Thunder’s critical reception has been mixed, and one Marvel’s Rotten Tomatoes score record makes the movie look even worse.
WARNING: Spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder and Ms. Marvel.
Ms. Marvel‘s positive reception, including a record-breaking 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes, makes Thor: Love and Thunder‘s negative reactions look even worse. One direct consequence of Marvel’s new release strategy for the MCU Phase 4 is that thanks to the Disney+ platform, there can now be two MCU installments being released at the exact same time – a movie on the big screen and a TV show streaming on Disney+. That was the case for the Moon Knight final and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and has now happened again with Ms. Marvel‘s final episodes airing around Thor: Love and Thunder arriving in theaters.
While this release strategy allows the MCU to move its story forward a lot faster (to the point that the MCU Phase 4 runtime will nearly be as long as the full Infinity Saga by the end of the year), it also highlights the differences between each Marvel release – for better and for worse. Marvel’s Phase 4 is being received with a lot more criticism than other eras in the franchise for reasons that include but are not limited to the number of releases. Still, there are Phase 4 movies and shows that, despite the current MCU criticism, perform very well either in terms of box office or critical reception. Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s billion-dollar box office and Ms. Marvel‘s Rotten Tomatoes score are some examples.
After the highly praised Thor: Ragnaroka movie that redefined Thor as a character and set the franchise on a new, exciting path, the expectations for Thor: Love and Thunder could not have been higher. Not only was Taika Waititi returning to the director’s chair to continue Thor’s character progression, but Thor: Love and Thunder was also revealed to be bringing back Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster making her MCU comeback as Mighty Thor. With other big names cast, such as Christian Bale as Gorr and Russell Crowe as Zeus, audiences set a high bar going in. However, Thor: Love and Thunder currently stands at a surprising 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. That is far behind Ragnarok’s 93% score, less than Thor (77%), and almost the same as the disappointing Thor: The Dark World (66%). While the argument that there is simply MCU fatigue could be made, Ms. Marvel just hit 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, the highest score for any MCU show, proving that Thor: Love and Thunder‘s problems go far beyond just franchise exhaustion.
Why Thor: Love & Thunder Was Smashed By Ms. Marvel On Rotten Tomatoes
Thor: Love and Thunder encapsulates a lot of the elements that have recently received criticism within the MCU. For example, Thor: Love and Thunder‘s inconsistent CGI is a reminder of how varied the quality of the visual effects in the Marvel properties have been, a problem that has become much more noticeable during the MCU Phase 4. The complicated balance of humor, self-awareness, and emotional stakes , something with which a lot of MCU movies struggle, is also a Thor: Love and Thunder problem. Even the exciting new additions, such as Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher and Natalie Portman’s Mighty Thor, ended up not having their full potential displayed on the screen thanks to that inconsistency of tone. Such a long list of issues combined with the high hopes for the Thor: Ragnarok sequel, helps to explain why Thor: Love and Thunder‘s Rotten Tomatoes score is so low – at least for MCU standards
In comparison to Thor 4, Ms. Marvel had the advantage of being a fresh new property with no previous movie or TV show appearances to set expectations. Obviously, the MCU debut of Kamala Khan was highly anticipated in itself, but there were less preconceived notions about what Ms. Marvel should deliver. As such, the coming-of-age story, the fun editing, and even Ms. Marvel‘s origins and powers changes all felt like a breath of fresh air in a franchise where so much has already been done. A sequel like Thor: Love and Thunder will always be perceived under different lenses than an origin story like Ms. Marveland that helps begin to explain why reviews have been so much worse to the former.
In addition, Thor: Love and Thunder felt like it was trying to replicate Ragnarok at the same time that it was trying to do something different. The result was a tone-confusing movie in which emotional moments were often moderated by humor. Ms. Marvel, on the other hand, had a more consistent journey. Even the often criticized six-episode structure of the Disney+ Marvel series worked, as Ms. Marvel‘s pacing matched what Kamala’s origin story needed. In other words, Ms. Marvel knew what it wanted to be and delivered, whereas Thor: Love and Thunder neither replicated Ragnarok nor brought something different enough.
Thor: Love and Thunder tried to convey a lot of elements into a single, 120-minute-long movie. The 67% Rotten Tomatoes score may be surprising, but it reflects a lot of the movies’ issues. similarly, Ms. Marvel‘s 98% Rotten Tomatoes score represents how good and unique the show is, especially considering how similar in pacing and tone the Disney+’s Marvel series have been.
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