How much Thor is too much?
The idea seems absurd, but it’s conceivable that there is a sweet spot when it comes to superhero releases. Thor is headed to theaters for his fourth solo film in Thor: Love and Thunder, a move that will mark the very first solo Marvel quartet. The character’s popularity has been on a sharp rise since the release of Thor: Ragnarok, however, and fans simply can’t get enough of the goofy, gorgeous god of thunder.
The man behind — or in front of, rather — the perfectly chiseled ass that is set to debut in Love and Thunder may have different feelings, however. Chris Hemsworth has spent more than a decade as the MCU’s Thor, and his time in the role may be coming to an end. He’s revealed, over multiple interviews, that he’s unsure of his future in the franchise. During a Wired autocomplete interview, he teased that Love and Thunder could be his final Thor film, noting — in response to a question about his “last Marvel movie” — that “the one I just shot was Thor: Love and Thunder, and it may be my last, I don’t know.”
This quote is sparking panic across the Hemsworth fandom, as viewers face a potential Thor-less future. Hemsworth’s words present a very real possibility, and one that’s backed by several recent moves from Marvel. The idea that Love and Thunder could see the final Hemsworth appearance in the MCU would honestly track with the current direction of the franchise, which has largely seen the original team of heroes replaced by fresh faces. And with Love and Thunder set to introduce Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor, it seems the god of thunder may be on his way out.
But could Hemsworth’s potential departure spell the end of the Thor franchise for good? Or will the story of Asgard continue even after the hulking Aussie utters his last line?
Will Love and Thunder be the final Thor movie?
A Thor-less future is difficult to imagine, after more than a decade of Hemsworth’s perfect portrayal, but it’s a genuine possibility. While audiences in general would welcome another decade — or two — of Hemsworth’s Thor, it’s valid if the 38-year-old Hemsworth is ready to shift gears. While he has been in plenty of non-MCU projects over the years, the Marvel franchise is notoriously demanding. We can’t blame him for wanting to step away, just as so many other Marvel MVPs are set to do over the course of spin-off series, films, and projects.
Even if he does depart following Love and Thunder, however, a lack of the OG Thor does not spell the end of the Thor franchise. Love and Thunder is poised to introduce Portman’s Mighty Thor, after all, a character that is very likely to persist even after Thor makes his final appearance.
The last few Marvel releases have seen almost all of the original team — Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Thor — pass the torch to the next generation of heroes. Iron Man largely passed that mantle to Spider-Man, but No Way Home may mean the Iron Man moniker will go to someone else (see the anticipated release of an Iron Heart project). Cap’s shield is in new hands as of Disney Plus’ Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a new Black Widow officially entered the scene with both the Black Widow film and Hawkeye, and the latter also saw the introduction of Kate Bishop, the new Hawkeye. The release of She-Hulk later this year will see the debut of a new big green rage machine, and Love and Thunder seems to be doing the same with Mighty Thor.
A new era is underway at Marvel, and it requires new heroes.
What this most likely means is that Hemsworth is, in fact, on his way out of the MCU. What it does not mean, however, is that Love and Thunder will be the final Thor movie. The franchise is all but guaranteed to continue via Mighty Thor, Valkyrie, and other crowd-favorite characters, as will the other beloved members of the team. Their impact will live on through the mentees, family members, and partners that continue with the good work they started.
The best possible outcome, by this author’s estimation, won’t see Hemsworth depart the MCU entirely, but will see him separate himself from the Thor franchise at large. With Mighty Thor there to take up his very necessary mantle, and Valkyrie fully in charge of Asgard, there’s little to keep Thor tethered to his former home and duties. Instead, what if he left and became part of a completely different franchise? You know where I’m going with this.
I, personally, would love to see Thor withdraw from his original franchise following Love and Thunder, and instead transition into the Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s already established ties with the team — and they’re set to appear in his upcoming fourth film — and audiences were absolutely obsessed with the chemistry between Hemsworth and characters like Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Star-Lord. Were he to pivot to the Guardians franchise, rather than ditch the MCU completely, fans would be graced with the best outcome possible — the Thor franchise would follow in course with the rest of the MCU, passing the responsibility of heroism on to a new swathe of heroes, but the fan-favorite character would persist with a new team.
Very few fans are ready to say goodbye to Hemsworth’s Thor — particularly after Taika Waititi brilliantly reimagined the character in Ragnarok — but we recognize that his days as a standalone hero may be over. Does that have to mean his permanent retirement from the MCU at large? We don’t think so.