Hero Sandwich, with Extra Ham
By Mark Fields
Writer-director-multiple hyphenate Taika Waititi has sparked his brief but impressive Hollywood career with a series of offbeat projects that challenge expectations and toy with genre norms. Jojo Rabbit is a feature dramedy about a young boy whose imaginary friend is Hitler. Our Flag Means Death, an HBO Max comedy, imagines the notorious Blackbeard as bored with piracy and really looking for a friend. His newest feature, Thor Love and Thunder, continues his work in Thor Ragnarok by tweaking the self-serious tropes of the superhero film. The director, who also co-wrote the screenplay and voiced one of the CGI characters, encourages the sturdy performers – Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, and loads of star cameos – and the audience to come in on the joke. But underneath the gentle ribbing of the genre also lies affection for the familiar characters and for the effects-heavy action sequences that we all expect from these movies. Thor Love and Thunder manages to thread the needle between parody and homage with humor and thrills, but the careening shifts in tone can be disorienting for the viewer unwilling to submit to Waititi’s skewed take on convention. It is to Marvel’s credit that he is allowed to mess so delightfully with the MCU formula. But fair warning, abandon reverence all ye fanboys who enter here!