The losses that trigger the transformations
The article Thor Guardian of The Galaxy is Act 2 of the Thor Love and Thunder Movie Review. It looks into Thor as he comes to terms with what has happened so far in his life and where he is going next. We discover that the superhero seems to be in a constant inbetween (and as we are all naturally). He is waiting for something to get him to his next battle I really don’t believe that it is “We need you to win this battle” which barely appeals to his ego and not the sense of redemption he seems to be seeking in each fight.
One of the interesting thing about this part is that Thor is that the Guardians of the Galaxy mimic Thor’s friends, his fighting gang as it were, filling a hole that had not been acknowledged previously (quite the opposite). It also follows their defeat of Thanos in which he was part of the numbers but not necessarily needed, especially as Captain America could wield Mjölnir. The fact that later on, Mighty Thor takes over and Mjölnir is no longer is does play on this as well but could have been so much more highlighted beyond shallow jealous quirks. This minimises the issue he has been dealing with as far as his partners are concerned.
Losses are part of life whether you are an ordinary citizen or a superhero. But it is harder when you carry the burden of the amount of responsibility of a superhero and Guardian of the galaxy. This is because you know that when you fail, it does not just affect you but a nation, a planet and potentially a galaxy.
It is obvious that Taika Waititi has overestimated our love of comic relief Korg. The character is right left centre, basically far more than he needs to be. He starts immediately after the opening credits, narrating most of what we know already, and speaking over what could easily just be shown. This would have ideally be shown through the mind reader’s eye. Simply imagine the hand of Mantis touching Thor in his tormented sleep as if he were dreaming of the act before, the god butchering. And then we see through her eyes seeing through his: his planet exploding, his people shattered, him putting on weight and moments where he is just lost. Pom Klementieff plays the detached empath so well, her “cool” coldness (no repetition there, think about it) will calm down the superhero’s turmoil. The Guardians of the Galaxy will understand his feeling of helplessness and fragility and the next more useful montage would be of them alternatively showing them he is needed in battle (I can see Taika making this proper comedy) and Mantis helping him sleep and him getting enough rest and confidence to build his muscle again and lose his excess fat..
An extra (deleted) fun scene could be Thor waking up to find Starlord and Mantis at his side. He understands what has happened, maybe tells off Mantis for not respecting his boundaries. And then Starlord would make his speech. He would add something about how far Thor has come and how much he had helped them with a few-second scenes of battle where Thor was indeed a Guardian of the galaxy. He has made a difference without much effort. How much more difference can he make with a little more focussed effort? Anyway, the distress signal from Sif would prompt Thor’s departure. He feels strong enough to go back on his own, without the ridiculously long banter between him and Starlord.
We do not fault the writer/director for wanting to introduce Thor’s trauma via the “relatable” and light character Korg portrays but the narration cheapens a crucial and painful moment just for the sake of not making any moment too deep. Another case of show, don’t tell is the fact that Thor is needed as a superhero in the galaxy. It is the secret to getting him back on track and back in shape. Unfortunately, the movie does performs a double fail here. It makes it a narration over a very brief montage. And it makes it a throwaway, quick joke.
Thor’s transformations, physical and mental, are important. Every superhero who did not manage to save one innocent will tell you, from Schindler to doctors to Thor. It touches all of us, with or without a cape (whether or not through the wisdom of Edna). There is a way out of that trauma and it is not just having a laugh about it. Distraction is the opposite of dealing. It is merely a break to catch a breath so you can better be ready to deal with your situation. Unfortunately, like it is increasingly in real life, distraction has become the de facto way out. The missed opportunity affected the film negatively in my view.
Thor goes from sitting all day to working out to battling evil. He goes from eating his pain away to using his actual strengths to deal with his pain. He then goes from that anger fueling his fists to love, to understanding. He goes from fear of disappointing, of failing, of losing, to acceptance. There is so much in this transformation that has beauty in it. The image of his mother in the previous installment just shows the power of love over all negative feelings. Joking, yes, is part of him and we want to see it. But to see him choose to finally face things rather than joke them aside is powerful and it did come in the end, but so shortly and so late, not the amount of time that it deserves.
From a ridiculously (jokingly?) young age (a baby in his mother’s sling, although he looked more like a protection vest! Take an African sling, woman, and you will not have to endanger your child), he was exposed to battle. It is in his blood. It is in his genetics, it is in his way of life and in his raison de vivre. It shows that throughout its transformation, superheroing has been a constant: the one exception odes not void that rule, it violates it. In effect, not battling just worsens the feeling. And I wanted to see all that, that Thor is and was always a Guardian of the Galaxy.