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Following Thor: Love And Thunder, 5 Questions I Have About The MCU's Direction In Phase 4 And Beyond

Chris Hemsworth as Thor
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for Thor: Love and Thunder. Read at your own risk!

Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and it opens up a lot of questions about the greater franchise. No, I’m not talking about the fact that there are similarities between Korg’s husband and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that can’t be ignored. I mean specific questions about upcoming Marvel movies in the rest of Phase 4 and beyond. 

A lot happens in Thor: Love and Thunder, and some of it will no doubt impact the MCU's grander story down the road. There are also some things that it doesn’t address that in turns raise questions about what the MCU has coming up in the years ahead, which I'm here to talk about. 

Russell Crowe as Zeus in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

How Will Hercules And Other Gods Fit Into The Greater MCU Story? 

As a Ted Lasso fan, I was absolutely thrilled to see Brett Goldstein debut as Hercules in the MCU. At the same time, I have to wonder how the gods coming into the MCU might impact the greater story going forward. I’m definitely eager to see what’s planned, as the introduction of more gods into this franchise could open up another previously untouched section of the Marvel universe. 

Of course, we don’t know if all of the gods of Marvel will be involved in the universe, and it’s possible the demigod Hercules is the only real addition we get. I’m hoping not though, and would absolutely love to see more of this explored in what remains in Phase 4 and the phases that follow.  

Natalie Portman in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Image credit: Marvel Studios )

Is The MCU Going To Start Bringing Back A Bunch Of Dead Characters? 

Thor: Love and Thunder featured the tragic final arc of Jane Foster in the MCU, but there is a happy ending for her. She’ll get to live on in glory in Valhalla, and if the MCU’s Valhalla jives with the comics version, she could even return to Earth and fight as a valkyrie. Hey, she already took one hero’s mantle, so what’s another? 

Still, I do have to wonder that if the MCU is committed to bringing back yet another dead character, is this a recurring trend we should expect to see? I’m not saying that Marvel was wrong for bringing back Gamora or 50% of the universe, but if Thor is willing to leave the door open for Natalie Portman to return, where are the stakes looking at the bigger picture? Does the MCU lose something when heroes never die or can be replaced by a variant from the multiverse? 

Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains in Loki

(Image credit: Disney)

Where Is Kang? 

It’s been a little over a year since Loki unveiled He Who Remains, signaling Kang the Conqueror's becoming the next major big bad for the MCU. We still haven’t seen Kang make an appearance in a Marvel movie, but little by little, the multiverse is slowly seeping into the film universe. 

Well, at least that appeared to be the case. Thor: Love and Thunder kind of slowed things down a bit, for better or worse. One could certainly see it as a good thing that the fourth Thor movie didn’t feel beholden to advance the story of the MCU, but on the other hand, it feels like one of the few characters who was around at the start at the MCU should certainly be used as a vehicle to prepare the universe forward. Apparently that’s not going to happen. 

It’s been a year, and I have to ask: where is Kang? Sure, we know he’s going to be a part of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania, but is that all we’ll get ahead of the next ensemble film? Presumably,we’ll know the answer soon enough as Marvel teases its plans for the future, but I’d much rather the company show me the plan in its movies than assure me one is coming. 

Valkyrie sitting in Thor: Love and Thunder

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Why Doesn’t Thor: Love And Thunder Feel Connected To Everything Else? 

Thor taking on the Gorr The God Butcherer was a huge deal, especially considering he had a weapon capable of slaying a god. Thor went to the other gods to request aid, but was shut down by Zeus and others, who preferred to stay safe and have orgies rather than stop the murderous villain. Dejected, Thor went about trying to save the day with just Valkyrie and Jane, feeling like he had no options left. 

And yet, Zeus gave Thor the solution in his long monologue criticizing the human race. The Marvel universe has heroes, many of which were presumably available to help Thor with Gorr The God Butcherer. He could’ve rang up Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, The Guardians of the Galaxy or even some of the newer heroes, like Shang-Chi, to help him in his fight. 

Thor: Love and Thunder had a lot of opportunity for crossover and creating bridges between Marvel franchises, and yet, what we got was a movie that was largely self-contained within the Thor universe. Sure it was cool to see Darcy Lewis and Erik Selvig, but imagine how effective someone who was super powerful who wasn’t capable of being killed by a god-slaying sword would’ve been.

The most concerning thing about Thor: Love and Thunder is that it features one of the most-tenured characters in the MCU and feels largely disconnected to the rest of the universe. Even the Guardians portion feels like the story couldn’t move quickly enough to remove them from the proceedings. It’s a little disappointing for me to see, especially since the connectivity is one of the main things that’s great about the MCU. Hopefully it’s not a trend that continues and we see more meaningful crossovers in the future. 

Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista stand stoically with guns in hand in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.,

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

When Is Avengers 5 Coming Out? 

One thing I hoped Thor: Love and Thunder would do is give the fans some idea of how much longer we have to wait until the next Avengers movie. By the end of it all, it seemed like Thor was ready to take on his regular heroic duties despite the tragedy he endured in losing Jane, but we aren’t any closer to learning when the next ensemble feature may be. 

Now I say this knowing full well that we might get some sort of idea when Avengers 5 will arrive during either Marvel’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con or later on at D23. I’m thankful for any information we may receive, but at the same time, I'm wondering why there wasn’t some sort of road map to teasing that next ensemble laid out in Phase 4’s movies. It would’ve been great to see something akin to when Nick Fury recruited all of the Avengers or Thanos gathered the Infinity Stones. Not every ensemble film needed that level of build, but in an era that feels like a soft reset of the MCU, it would’ve been a great idea. I’d always much rather be shown the future of Marvel movies than told about the MCU's next big saga

Thor: Love and Thunder is currently in theaters and will eventually stream on Disney+ (opens in new tab) later this year. For all the questions it gave me about Phase 4, it’s still a good movie, and definitely one that fans won’t want to miss. 

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.