The purpose of mythology is to help us navigate our own time. Key to Thor: Love and Thunder is an exploration of rebuilding life after your world comes to an end. The ways you can do so unhealthily, or healthily.
Following the destruction of Asgard, the surviving Asgardians founded New Asgard on earth. But it has become almost a parody of itself, its story told as a theme park for tourists rather than to provide their children with roots that go deep. Asgard no longer exists, at least in a physical sense; yet New Asgard, which does, is not as real. It lacks any thickness, lacks substance. What will it take to transform this, to reawaken a community?
Thor is lost to himself; his former girlfriend Dr Jane Forster is lost to herself; each is lost to the other. What must they let go off, in order to remain true? What fears must they overcome? What fears must they surrender to?
Thor’s magical hammer, Mjolnir, has also been destroyed, and lies dormant, a curiosity, a tourist attraction; but Mjolnir reassembles itself—its broken parts held together, visibly scarred—by the power of love. Not even love can heal a history that remains subject to denial; and the future we are yet to discover bears the marks of the past we did not entirely choose, though had some degree of agency within.
Heimdall’s daughter wishes to be known as Heimdall’s son. Thor is deeply uncomfortable with this. Does that make him transphobic? Or does he understand that there is a deep vocation to being the daughter of Heimdall, that should not be lightly laid aside, even for an alternative expression? Or is it enough to be able to say, I am uncomfortable with this; I have questions, and concerns, about where the limits of individualism lie; but, nonetheless, I will treat you with dignity, I will support you with love? In the complexities of life, we do well to extend honour, and not judgement, towards one another.
The purpose of a movie is to entertain. But, under the cover of escapism, sitting in the dark, questions are posed, explored, left unresolved, taken away with us. How has my world gone through these things? Or what might happen next? Questions always tied to our own personal histories, the ways in which our lives have been destroyed and reconstructed, securely, or insecurely. And to all our possible futures.
The New Testament reading this Sunday, from the Letter to the Hebrews, speaks of everything that can be shaken, being shaken, so that, in the end, only what cannot be shaken remains. Of inheriting a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and therefore of the possibility—truth even—of experiencing joy, in the midst of our world being shaken violently, to the core. Not entertainment, but sustainment. Not a settling for a shadow of the past, but the awakened hope of a more substantial future, calling us.
Our world is being shaken. How will we respond?