Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe going downhill?

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Marvel poster for “Thor: Love and Thunder”

Eric Lockwood, Staff Columnist

“Thor: Love and Thunder,” the fourth Thor solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, made its streaming debut on Disney+ on Sept. 8.

After watching the movie for the first time since its opening weekend, I have many thoughts.

Overall, I find the film enjoyable for several reasons.

Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is great as always. He’s still the super awesome, and slightly clueless, “Space Viking” he’s always been.

Christian Bale turns in a scary, psychotic, and tragic performance as the main villain, Gorr the God Butcher.

I really appreciate the return of Jane Foster, Thor’s ex-girlfriend, whose storyline seemed very unresolved with her absence in the third Thor film.

Also, I find the movie’s theme very powerful. It reminds me of the Alfred, Lord Tennyson quote “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

I should also mention the terrific soundtrack. Guns N’ Roses songs play throughout the movie, with a little ABBA mixed in for good measure.

However, the elements of the movie that I don’t enjoy have me worried for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

First, I think most of the special effects in the movie are quite lackluster, and one of the worst instances occurs right at the beginning of the movie.

Within the first five minutes, there is a short scene with the sun god, Rapu. The face of Rapu’s actor is pasted very sloppily onto a cartoonish CGI body. This effect looks very unnatural, especially when the character moves.

The character’s look is akin to someone using one of those pictures you put your head through at a carnival.

I’m not trying to criticize the film’s visual effects artists. I’m sure they put all the effort they could into their work with the time and resources they were given.

However, I know Marvel can produce fantastic looking CGI characters.

Thanos, Hulk, and Groot, for instance, look amazing throughout entire movies. So why couldn’t they make Rapu look good for a few short minutes?

My biggest issue with the movie is the tone, which is all over the place.

Marvel wanted to tackle two of the most iconic storylines from the Thor comic books, but they are also two of the darkest.

The first is the villain’s storyline. Gorr’s daughter dies, despite his prayers to the gods for her safety. As a result, Gorr swears to kill all gods.

The other is Jane Foster’s storyline. She has stage four cancer and is trying to find a cure. She turns to magic and gains her own Thor powers by wielding Thor’s old hammer.

However, the hammer drains Jane’s mortal life force, and every time she reverts to her normal self, she is one step closer to death.

After describing these storylines, it’s hard to imagine that this movie is a comedy, but it is.

The two tones don’t mesh well—the jokes and goofy moments just feel out of place when dealing with such serious subject matter.

This movie frustrates me so much, because Marvel has successfully balanced serious and silly tones before.

“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and even the third Thor movie, “Thor: Ragnarok,” are perfect examples of this in my opinion.

I’m now worried about future MCU movies, such as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” because I’m not sure if Marvel is concerned about balancing tones like they used to.

Although these elements have me worried about the future of the MCU, there were also parts that made me excited for these movies going forward.

For example, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s small role made me even more excited to see them again in their third movie, which is coming out next year.

Also, the first post-credits scene was particularly well done, and has me very intrigued by a new rivalry it sets up.

If you’ve been following the MCU, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is still worth a watch, despite having some glaring flaws.