After a shaky start, Thor has become one of the MCU's most popular heroes – in so small part due to the humorous tone struck in his third solo film, Thor: Ragnarok.
Fans will therefore be delighted that Kiwi director Taika Waititi is returning for another film with Chris Hemsworth, this time titled Thor: Love and Thunder.
Marvel films can always rely on A-list casts, and this one if is no different, with long-absent star Natalie Portman rejoining the Marvel franchise as Jane Foster, and the Guardians of the Galaxy also set to feature.
There's also the small matter of Christian Bale making his return to the superhero arena as new villain Gorr the God Butcher, while several big-name cameos are in the pipeline – with Russel Crowe recently confirming that he would play Greek God Zeus.
Filming is currently underway in Australia, as confirmed by Hemsworth (via Instagram), but we can't rule out the possibility of another release date shuffle if Black Widow misses its planned launch in July due to COVID-19.
Here's everything we know so far about Thor: Love and Thunder, from the recent delay in release date and which Marvel stars are expected to appear in the sequel, to how it could tie into the upcoming Marvel movies.
Thor: Love and Thunder release date
Thor: Love and Thunder will be released in UK cinemas on Friday 8th July 2022.
The release date has shifted on multiple occasions due to production issues and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The movie was announced at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019 as part of Marvel's huge Phase 4 reveal, with Portman's appearance on-stage proving to be one of the most memorable moments of the convention.
Filming got underway in Australia from 26th January 2021 and star Chris Hemsworth marked the occasion with a thought-provoking Instagram post depicting a "Welcome to the Country" ceremony performed by indigenous Australian people.
Thor: Love and Thunder will reportedly use the same groundbreaking visual effects technology as Disney Plus series The Mandalorian, which will prove particularly helpful as travelling to real-world locations is made more difficult by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Thor: Love and Thunder cast
The following cast members have been confirmed for Thor: Love and Thunder.
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor
- Tessa Thompson as King Valkyrie
- Natalie Portman as The Mighty Thor/Dr Jane Foster
- Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher
- Chris Pratt as Star-Lord/Peter Quill
- Jaimie Alexander as Sif
- Pom Klementieff as Mantis
- Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
- Karen Gillan as Nebula
- Sean Gunn as Kraglin Obfonteri
- Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster
- Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot
- Taika Waititi as Korg
- Matt Damon as Asgardian Actor Loki
- Sam Neill as Asgardian Actor Odin
- Luke Hemsworth as Asgardian Actor Thor
- Melissa McCarthy as Asgardian Actor Hela
- Russell Crowe as Zeus
- Ben Falcone as TBC
- Jenny Morris as TBC
- Simon Russell Beale as TBC
Given the runaway success of Thor: Ragnarok, it should be no surprise that Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson will return in the lead roles as Thor and Valkyrie, the latter still serving as the new ruler of Asgard.
However, Marvel Studios did raise some eyebrows when it revealed that Natalie Portman will return to the MCU as Jane Foster, but this time she will become the God of Thunder herself when Thor is deemed unworthy of his hammer (a story inspired by a popular comic-book arc).
"[She's] a Thor," Waititi told ET. "There's still the other Thor, the original Thor. She's not called Female Thor. In the comics, she's called the Mighty Thor. It comes from that comic run."
Explaining how he convinced Portman to return to the Thor series, Waititi explained (via Variety), "I just said to her, ‘Are you interested in coming back to this thing, but doing something really different?’ No one wants to keep repeating themselves, and no one wants to play the same characters all the time.
"And I think for her, just coming back, reprising that character in a whole fresh new way was really what would interest anyone. Especially in most of these films, if you’re not a superhero… do you really wanna keep doing that? I mean, I wouldn’t. I’d want to come back and change things up."
Batman star Christian Bale has also been confirmed for the fourthquel, and he will be playing comic book baddie Gorr the God Butcher.
The character, first introduced to the comics back in 2012, is an evil alien who was banished from his community after he made blasphemous remarks following the death of his parents. Later he learnt that Gods did exist, but was furious that they did not save his family and so promised to kill them all.
In November 2020, it was reported that Chris Pratt had joined the cast of Thor: Love and Thunder as Star-Lord, his character from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
Speaking to Tom Holland during an Instagram chat in January, Pratt confirmed that he'd be travelling to Australia to shoot the film, saying: "I've got Thor. I'm gonna go be in Thor in Australia."
And now it looks as though he'll be joined by his fellow GotG stars Karen Gillan and Dave Bautista in Thor's fourth outing.
Posting on Instagram in January, Gillan (Nebula) revealed that she'd arrived in Sydney – which happens to be where the Thor: Love and Thunder is about to begin filming – before sharing a few selfies with the caption: "And we're back to work."
Meanwhile, Bautista, who plays Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, was recently spotted in Sydney with Gillan, fuelling rumours of his involvement in the film even further.
Vin Diesel, who voices walking and talking tree Groot on Guardians of the Galaxy, has also let slip that some other members of his alien team will be appearing in the Thor sequel.
"I am waiting and excited for my friend James Gunn to knock this next one out of the park," Diesel said according to ComicBook. "He took The Suicide Squad so he's about to embark on it. Thor will also, the director talked to me about Thor will incorporate some of the Guardians of the Galaxy. That'll be very interesting, nobody knows, maybe I shouldn't have said anything."
Jeff Goldblum has also hinted at a potential comeback for the hilarious Grandmaster, telling Entertainment Weekly: "I can't reveal any secrets, not that I know anything definitively, but there's a whisper of a thought or notion that I might have some participation in it."
In addition, Jaimie Alexander (Blindspot) is set to make her long-awaited return to the MCU as Lady Sif, one of the few survivors of Asgard's destruction, who was last spotted in 2013's Thor: The Dark World.
In an unexpected turn of events, Matt Damon is among those set to appear in Love and Thunder, following his brief comedic cameo in 2017's Ragnarok.
He played an Asgardian actor in Waititi's previous superhero movie, who starred in a melodramatic play re-enacting Loki's supposed death in The Dark World. It's unclear yet whether he'll be returning to that character or taking on a new role.
Damon is not the only veteran actor to make an unexpected cameo in the superhero sequel, as Russell Crowe has been confirmed to be joining the starry cast in an undisclosed role.
It was believed that Crowe will be making a humorous cameo similar to Damon to Thor: Ragnarok and that his inclusion was intended as a surprise.
And in April 2021, Crowe confirmed a widely held fan theory about exactly who he would be playing – revealing during a radio interview on JOY Breakfast with The Murphys that he would be playing Marvel's version of the Greek God Zeus.
"I'm going to get on my bicycle and ride up to Disney-Fox studios, and around 9.15, I shall be Zeus," he said.
Many of Thor’s other supporting characters – including his friends the Warriors Three, his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), his mother Frigga (Rene Russo), and ally Heimdall (Idris Elba) – have been killed in recent Marvel movies, making it unlikely they would appear, unless through use of flashback or visions.
Another of Thor's allies, Dr Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), recently reappeared after a long absence in the Disney Plus limited series WandaVision, but it appears she won't reunite with her mentor Jane Foster in Love and Thunder.
"I have not gotten a call so I kind of doubt it since they’re shooting it right now so probably not," she told IGN. "But anything Marvel ever asks of me, the answer’s always yes."
Thor: Love and Thunder trailer
A trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder has now been released.
You can watch the footage below.
The footage of the Taika Waititi film shows off continued quirky humour from Thor: Ragnarok, as we see Thor try to find his place in the universe and accompany the Guardians of the Galaxy on their adventures.
However, on the way, Thor finds himself on a whole new unexpected adventure and one that sees his former girlfriend Jane Foster wielding Mjolnir as The Mighty Thor.
The trailer, which is set to Guns N Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine', ends with a shot of Foster holding the hammer in her full Foster outfit.
Will Loki be in the Thor sequel?
So far, it seems Tom Hiddleston will not reprise his role as Loki in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Obviously, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki died during the events of Avengers: Infinity War – but an earlier, 2012-era version of the God of Mischief escaped during the time-travel shenanigans of Avengers: Endgame and has featured in his own Disney Plus series, Loki.
This series is due to return for a second season as the God of Mischief and the Time Variance Authority (TVA) grapple with multiversal threats.
Will he even have time for a reunion with Thor?
It looks doubtful, but we would not be shocked if he made a surprise cameo.
What’s the story of Thor 4?
The official synopsis of Thor: Love and Thunder has been released.
It reads: "The film finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods.
"To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor.
"Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late."
The film will adapt a story arc from a recent Marvel series called The Mighty Thor, written by Jason Aaron with artwork by Russell Dauterman.
In the comics, the original Thor was deemed unworthy to wield his hammer, Mjolnir, paving the way for Jane Foster to wield the formidable ancient weapon.
However, Foster is also battling breast cancer during this story, and every time she undergoes her physical transformation into Thor, it counteracts the effects of her chemotherapy treatment and perpetuates her illness.
So, there is a very powerful angle to the story, exploring the personal sacrifice that Jane makes in order to protect the people of Earth from harm.
"That storyline is incredible, is full of emotion, love and thunder and introduces for the first time female Thor," Waititi said at Comic-Con. "For us there’s only one person who could play that role… Natalie Portman."
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