Marvel’s latest theatrical release, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” is the studio’s sixth full-length film installment in the fourth phase of its cinematic universe. To many, cinema serves as a preferred form of escapism and little more. However, it is undeniable that all art attempts to imbue its audience with a message that makes people sympathetic to the artist’s worldview.
This is made evident by film studios and creative teams increasingly and explicitly emphasizing LGBT characters and woke themes in the products they churn out. Saturate mainstream content with things previously deemed immoral or unusual, and the general population comes to accept them as commonplace.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” is obviously no exception to this. But underneath the movie’s overly manufactured moments of witty banter, overt virtue signaling, and bouts of cosmic fisticuffs, there is a message that resonates with Christian theology.
This message is best discerned by analyzing the character arc of the film’s villain Gorr the God Butcher (portrayed by Christian Bale). Gorr’s story is cautionary; it warns of what happens when man embraces resentment and allows himself to be consumed by a godless darkness.
Gorr is introduced as he and his daughter — aliens who are the last of their kind — wander around a barren wasteland amid what we are led to believe is an apocalyptic natural disaster. Gorr prays to his people’s deity, pleading for salvation so that he may prolong the lives of his daughter, their species, and the church of their god. His prayers go unanswered, and he begins to resent his god in a burgeoning crisis of faith.
Shortly after his daughter’s demise, Gorr encounters a desert oasis replete with clean drinking water and fresh fruit to revive him from his dire state. As it turns out, this oasis contains his people’s deity. Gorr has accidentally interrupted his god, who is celebrating the vanquishing of an enemy who wielded the infamous “Necrosword.” This powerful weapon imbues its wielder with the ability to manipulate darkness and kill gods with ease while draining the wielder’s life force.
Gorr’s resentment at being abandoned by his god leads to the Necrosword bestowing itself upon him. He subsequently uses it to kill his people’s deity and vows to rid the universe of its inhabitant gods. By embracing his resentment, Gorr is able to harness the power of an all-consuming darkness that is emboldened by his resentment of the divine.
Later in the film, Gorr manifests and manipulates this darkness to kidnap and imprison a group of Asgardian children whose salvation by the film’s protagonists lays the foundation for the film’s plot. Gorr physically confines these children and psychologically tortures them with beings made of shadows as he tries to cast his grief and the resentment he feels towards the divine onto them.
If Gorr can coerce the impressionable young to forsake their gods and abandon hope of salvation, the darkness grows more powerful.
Ultimately, as his character arc comes to an end, Gorr is able to overcome the resentment he carries throughout the film, setting aside his vendetta so that he may resurrect his late daughter and give her another chance at life.
Much like Job, Gorr was a simple man; prior to the film’s plot getting underway, Gorr was a devout worshiper of his god and cared deeply for his family. Like Job, after having the thing he loved most taken from him, Gorr grows resentful and is consumed by his grief which he attributes to the divine.
Unlike Job, Gorr is convinced of the necessity of transcending his mortality and using his individual will to recharacterize the universe. Job is wary of the leviathan, and Gorr seeks to become one as he pursues a cosmic genocide of the divine.
Ultimately, Gorr’s crusade fails as he realizes embracing his resentment and giving into bitterness won’t change the trajectory of his life or right the wrongs he endured.
The Christian message contained within “Thor: Love and Thunder” is quite subdued and not the film’s focus, but it is still a message worthy of recognition. It is a warning of resentment and a call to endure life’s hardships.
If we give in to the resentment that arises from hardship, darkness will follow, and our misery will have a compounding effect. Despite the discomfort, we are called to suffer and endure hardship for a higher purpose even though we are unable to readily discern God’s will.