Love and Thunder’ Stars on Surpassing ‘Ragnarok’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Love (and thunder) was certainly in the air on Thursday evening, as the cast and creators behind the fourth installment of the Thor franchise gathered for the film’s premiere. Hundreds of cosplayed fans lined up on Hollywood Boulevard, ready to greet the stars and watch the long-anticipated follow-up to Taika Waititi’s hit Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor: Love and Thunder follows the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) through the next chapter of his life — a journey to find himself. When his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) reenters the picture — this time, as the Mighty Thor — along with the threat of a god-killing villain Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), Thor embarks on another adventure to save his people.

From the usual suspects of Hemsworth, Waititi and Tessa Thompson to new additions and MCU returners like Bale, Portman, Russell Crowe and Chris Pratt, Love and Thunder boasts a stacked lineup of A-listers. And coming off the success of Ragnarok, the creative team felt the pressure to deliver something bigger and better this time around.

Ragnarok set the bar, and so now that is the expectation,” said executive producer Brian Chapek. “So how can we evolve? How can we keep doing something different? And I think we’ve done that.”

Waititi, who again directed as well as co-wrote and stars, agrees. “Personally, I was like, ‘Oh, how are we to top that?’ You know, is it possible to top that? We did,” he told The Hollywood Reporter on the carpet. “This film is bigger and deals with the bigger themes, human themes, it’s emotional. I couldn’t be happier.”

In a surprise to fans, Portman returns after a hiatus away from the franchise since her last appearance as Jane Foster in the 2013 film sequel Thor: The Dark World. Now, Foster is not just an astrophysicist anymore, but rather, fulfilled her comics destiny by transforming into the Mighty Thor.

“It was in the works from the beginning,” said co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson of bringing Portman back. “I know it was something that Taika and Kevin [Feige] and Brad [Winderbaum] and the whole team really wanted. To be able to be a part of the film that brings the Mighty Thor to screen is… I can’t even tell you how special it is. It makes me want to cry.”

Upon returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Portman immersed herself into Waititi’s fresh interpretation of Thor. “He is just so wild and has such amazing ideas all the time,” Portman said of working with the director. “I mean, it’s kind of miraculous that he can just generate so much brilliance on a constant basis. It’s really astonishing and really an amazing opportunity to just witness.”

Bale, who makes his Marvel debut in the film, continued the praise of Waititi. “Working with Taika is just wonderful,” the Academy Award winner said. “With great sincerity, it’s a very moving film, but also as everybody would expect, [it’s] bloody funny, coming from Taika. And what a cast, as well. It was a real joy.” In his transformation to become the menacing Gorr the God Butcher, Bale recounted sitting in the makeup chair each morning for nearly four hours to get into character.

Love and Thunder marks Hemsworth’s eighth Marvel film, but it would seem that the actor still has a lot of Thor’s story left to tell. “I’ve done it for ten, eleven years now,” Hemsworth reflected. “And each time I think, yes, I’ll do it again, if there’s something new to tell and something fresh and unique that we haven’t done before.”

“Thanks to everyone at Marvel, but Taika Waititi, in this instance, has created a whole new journey,” he continued. “I think that’s what it’s about, is keeping it fresh and spontaneous and unpredictable for fans. It’s such a collaboration with so many wonderful writers and producers and directors that I’ve been able to work with playing the character. It’s an honor.”

Producer Brad Winderbaum added, “I think Thor is a character that can tell so many stories because Chris is such an empathetic human actor that you really feel for him no matter what predicament he is in. You can follow him on so many different journeys.”

Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on July 8.

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Natalie Portman, Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, Victoria Alonso, Tessa Thompson, Chris Pratt and Jaimie Alexander
Charley Gallay/Getty Images

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