Does Thor Die in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder?’
Um, I hope not??
Thor: Love and Thunder is here, and Thor fans are over the moon. Thanks to Covid delays, it’s been five long years since Thor’s last solo outing, and after Thor’s turbulent emotional journey in the Infinity Saga, we’re long past due for more adventures with the God of Thunder. But is this movie Thor’s final adventure in the MCU? Even worse, does he die in Thor 4?
In case you need a quick recap: after losing his family, friends, and homeworld in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, Thor fell into a deep depression and became a recluse in Endgame, spending most of his time drinking and playing video games while the other Asgardians struggled to put their lives back together after coming to Earth as refugees. After finally defeating Thanos (for real this time) and undoing the erasure of half the universe, Thor’s mental health started to recover, and he handed the throne off to Valkyrie, so he could set off on the Benatar spaceship with the Guardians of the Galaxy to explore the cosmos.
Although Endgame largely tied up a lot of loose ends and served as a cap to several main characters’ stories, Thor fans were left with lingering questions. What is Thor’s identity, now that he’s no longer a king and an Avenger? Where will he go and what will he do from here? Luckily, Thor 4 really dives into who Thor becomes after the Blip. In the new film, Thor seeks to put war behind him, only to find out that he has to go up against Gorr the God Butcher, who has vowed to wipe out every god in existence. He also has to reckon with the fact that his old flame Jane how wields his hammer Mjolnir as the Goddess of Thunder. Throw in Valkyrie’s exploits as the new King of Asgard and an appearance by Guardians of the Galaxy, and you’ve got an exciting next chapter in the story of Thor.
But is it the final chapter?
Passing the Torch … Er, Hammer
One of the main themes of the MCU’s Phase 4 is the previous generation of Avengers handing off their roles to a new generation. This development is fitting for a few reasons. First off, many of the Phase 1-3 actors are getting older and/or looking to focus more on other projects, so the climactic events of Infinity War and Endgame were a perfect time for them to retire their characters. Also, Marvel is leaning into an excellently diverse line-up to make up for the largely white and male nature of Phases 1-3, introducing new stars like Simu Liu and Iman Vellani in its new superhero pantheon.
So far, we’ve seen several hand-offs in Phase 4. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson finally accepts Steve Rogers’s shield and becomes the new Captain America. In Black Widow, we meet Natasha’s adopted sister Yelena Belova. Hawkeye sees Clint bestowing his Avenger moniker onto Kate Bishop, and in the upcoming She-Hulk, Bruce Banner will train his cousin Jennifer Walters. Finally, we’ll be meeting Riri Williams, AKA Ironheart, in Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever. With half the Avengers deceased and Bruce Banner and Clint Barton both aging, Marvel is definitely using Phase 4 to introduce a whole new roster of superheroes.
In Thor 4, of course, Thor has to grapple with Jane taking over Thor’s persona. On the surface, this seems to fit the pattern of the rest of Phase 4, with Thor training his replacement. There’s one interesting difference, though: Thor is way too young to retire.
Clint and Bruce are human, and both of them are clearly aging. Although Bruce is inexplicably back to his Smart Hulk form in the She-Hulk trailer, when we saw him in Shang-Chi last fall, he was gray-haired and noticeably older. Clint is losing his hearing, and it seems pretty obvious that he wants to spend more time with his family. Both seem ready for retirement from superhero life.
However, Thor is a young god with a 5,000-year lifespan, and he’s in his prime. Retirement doesn’t make any sense for his character. Even if he really does decide to leave the heroic life behind like he says he will in the teaser trailer, the full trailer makes it clear that he can easily get roped back into it. When you’re a superpowered god with a strong moral compass, it’s pretty hard to say no to people in need, and it’s hard to imagine an action-oriented guy like Thor just meditating on a mountaintop for the next 3,500 years.
So, if Thor 4 really is paving the way for Thor to leave the MCU, what’s going to happen to him?
Nothing bad, right?
A Clue Hidden in Plain Sight
The day the full trailer came out, Adam Barnhardt pointed out a huge clue staring us right in the face.
The trailer opens with Korg telling a bunch of children a campfire story. “Let me tell you the story of Thor, the space viking,” he says. “He was no ordinary man. He was a god.”
I’m sorry, what is this WAS business!? If Thor’s still alive, then he IS a god! It’s entirely possible that Korg is using the past tense for dramatic effect, but still … that past tense doesn’t bode well for Thor.
Barnhardt points out another interesting detail in the trailer:
Here I’m more inclined to disagree. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a hall in which warriors drink and feast until the end of days, and when we’ve seen Valhalla in Marvel comics, it sticks to this model. It’s true that the halls of Valhalla might have a backyard, but I think that if we were seeing Thor in the afterlife, it would look like what we’d expect Valhalla to look like. You know, tables and goblets and roaring fires and such. Nicole Kidman working at her loom. Wait, I’m thinking of The Northman.
But, just because that one particular shot probably isn’t the afterlife, that doesn’t mean we won’t actually see Thor’s passing in this movie.
So what happens to Thor? Is he really passing the torch to Jane, or will he stick around for the rest of Marvel’s multiversal saga? Will we ever get to see him reunite with Loki, who’s alive and trying to save the multiverse from Kang? How gutting would it be if Loki came looking for his brother, only to find that he’d kicked the bucket?
So Does Thor Die or What!?
Yes, Thor dies! Well, sort of.
In the comics, Jane Foster is dying of cancer when Mjolnir chooses her to become the Mighty Thor, and the movie follows this story arc. Jane goes to New Asgard in the hopes that Mjolnir, with its ability to grant its user good health, can cure her. Instead, it gives her the powers of a goddess.
This solution is all well and good until Jane finds out that every time she transforms into Mighty Thor, her body loses the ability to fight the cancer. The cancer progresses more and more quickly until Thor (the original Thor, that is) tells her that if she picks up Mjolnir one more time, she’ll succumb to the cancer completely.
But Jane would rather go out as the Goddess of Thunder than lying in a hospital bed, so she sacrifices herself to help Thor take down Gorr the God Butcher. At the end of the movie, she dies in Thor’s arms and awakens in Valhalla.
So while the Mighty Thor does die, Thor himself is still alive and well at the end of the movie—and, as the final title card informs us, he’ll be returning in future MCU projects.
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