Thor: Love and Thunder is a must-see Marvel homage to Jim Henson

Enlarge / Jane (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are back at it in Thor: Love and Thunder. (credit: Marvel Studios)

Thirty minutes into the heartfelt silliness of Thor: Love and Thunder, a comparison dawned on me that clarified why I enjoyed this week’s new film so much: In 14 years of Marvel Studios films, the company has never as successfully made an homage to Jim Henson as this.

At its most madcap, Love and Thunder giddily honors the likes of Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show in terms of a rogue’s gallery of goofballs and kiddos chewing up the film’s gilded, Technicolor scenery. And at its darkest, it feels like a direct descendant of Labyrinth, as its villainy combines no-holding-back ruthlessness with some impressively staged shadow realms.

Most importantly, co-stars Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth nail the film’s titular L-word in remarkable fashion. This action film knows that it’s smothering a slab of rom-com peanut butter with ridiculous superhero-stakes chocolate, and the film’s leads dance around this fact mostly in joking fashion while still threading the needle of building a believable, finale-clinching connection. (Comparing the results to Kermit and Miss Piggy would short-shrift their incredible work to some extent, yet the comparison also kind of makes sense, once you see the movie.)

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