Everything You Need to Know Before Thor: Love and Thunder

America’s favorite Asgardian is back (and he’s even gotten rid of his dad bod!). That’s right, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is returning to the big screen in Thor: Love and Thunder, and so is his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), now The Mighty Thor herself. Since the Marvel cinematic universe is so expansive, it can be difficult to remember what happened to which character on the long journey to this latest release. So we created this handy-dandy guide for you on what to watch to fully understand the Thor-verse. All of these films are available to stream right now on Disney +.

Begin with: Thor (2011)


Thor Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

Thor and his glorious abs first landed on Earth in this origin film from director Kenneth Branagh. In his first outing we learn that Thor is an all-powerful prince from Asgard, one of nine realms, which also include Midgard, or Earth. When we meet him he’s battling for what he considers his rightful place on the throne. At the same time, his mischievous brother, Loki (Tom Middleston), also wants to be on that throne. Thor is banished to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for inadvertently setting off a war between realms. He’s got his mighty hammer Mjolnir with him, but he can’t use it until he proves he is “worthy” of it. To make matters worse, Loki is wreaking havoc back on Asgard, and he’s just found out that he’s a frost giant adopted by Odin as a baby. Thor, along with his new love Jane and his ragtag group of humans, learns how to take a chill pill and become humble in order to save both Earth and Asgard.

Then watch the sequel: Thor: The Dark World (2013)


Thor Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

After helping out The Avengers, Thor returns in his second solo film, but Branagh did not. Admittedly, it’s the least distinctive of the Thor films in both style and story, but it’s worth watching for a few important plot points that come into play later. First of all, there’s the Aether, a weapon employed by the Dark Elves that winds up possessing Jane Foster. We’ll eventually find out that the Aether is actually an Infinity Stone, and some of the scenes in this film play out again (slightly differently) in Avengers: Endgame when our heroes are collecting the Stones through time. There’s also an interesting thread with Loki, who’s been locked away in the palace dungeon (it’s actually a really nice glass cell). He becomes an unlikely ally to his brother when the Dark Elves invade, but as always he has a plan. Thor helps Loki escape, and the trickster appears to sacrifice himself to save Thor and Jane. Although Loki survives (because of course he does) their relationship doesn’t. This is the last time we’ll see Jane (not counting Endgame), until Thor: Love and Thunder.

Next up: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)


Thor Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

Thor isn’t actually in this film, but the Guardians make an appearance in Love and Thunder, so you might as well get to know them and their origins. In what may be one of Marvel’s quirkiest offerings, Guardians of the Galaxy introduced us to an island of misfit toys who come together to help save the universe. The rock-fueled adventure begins with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) a human abducted as a child by a crew of alien thieves called Ravagers. Now an adult, Quill calls himself Star-Lord and gets himself into a mess of trouble after a job where he’s sent to steal a mysterious orb (containing another of those pesky Infinity Stones). Sentenced to space prison for disturbing the peace, he teams up some of the other inmates to break out, saves the galaxy with them, and forms a brand new crew/family.

And then: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)


Thor Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

Thor doesn’t appear in this sequel either, but we’re including it anyway because a few new characters are introduced and the guardians are always fun to watch. After saving the galaxy, the guardians are now making a name for themselves across the universe, for better or worse. In this film, Star-Lord learns more about his origins and a new guardian named Mantis (Pom Klementieff) joins the team.

But especially do not miss: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)


Thor Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

Thor returns again in his third solo film, which, thanks to being directed by Taika Waititi (who returned to direct Love and Thunder), is far more fun and colorful than its predecessors. The demise of Odin leaves the throne vulnerable to takeover by Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, Thor and Loki’s powerful older sister. Their attempt to challenge her results in Thor’s hammer being destroyed, and they barely escape via the Bifrost, a rainbow bridge that connects the realms.

It spits them out (in separate places, some time apart) on a wild and savage planet called Sakaar, ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, brilliant as always). Loki worms his way into his inner circle, but Thor gets thrown into an arena with the Grandmaster’s champion. Who turns out to be none other than his fellow avenger and old buddy Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Oh, the bounty hunter who sold him out? She’s former Asgardian Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who has her own grudge to settle against Hela. Together, they all form a team—the “Revengers”—to escape from Sakaar and return to Asgard to dethrone her.

For more on this Thanos guy: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)


Thor Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

Big baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) continues his quest to gather the six Infinity Stones from all over the galaxy so he can wipe out half the universe. This is the film where Thor meets up with the Guardians, and while he still doesn’t have his hammer, he manages to forge an even greater weapon, an axe called Stormbreaker, with the help of the Dwarf King Eitri (Peter Dinkladge). He reunites with the Avengers during the big climactic battle, but his failure to stop Thanos has grave consequences, and leaves a deep emotional scar (alongside the pain of losing his father, his brother, and basically his entire kingdom).

And The Phase Three Climax: Avengers: Endgame (2019)


Thor Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

So, yeah, Thor is not in a good place at the beginning of this film. He’s pretty depressed and not taking care of himself (although the body shaming is a little much). He ends up with a dad bod and only wants to play video games and eat junk food, which is understandable given what he’s been through. He eventually does team up with remaining to pull off the ultimate time heist to collect the stones and undo Thanos’ fateful snap (which is how we end up back in The Dark World). The film ends on a positive note for Thor and he decides to join the guardians to protect the galaxy, appointing Valkyrie as the ruler of New Asgard on Earth.

Bonus: Team Thor shorts


Thor Love and Thunder

This trio of shorts produced alongside Thor: Ragnarok isn’t required viewing, but they’re fun to watch and very much in the goofy spirit of the film. They’re also available on Disney+.

Team Thor (2016)

After saving the world with the Avengers, Thor moves in with an everyday roommate named Darryl. Thor shows off where he’s keeping his suit, hammer, and meat in his normal flat. The short actually introduces information that will be key in Avengers: Infinity War. Directed by Waiti himself, it’s very in line with the mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (the original film that inspired the series), which follows a group of vampire roommates living in a flat in modern day New Zealand.

Team Thor Part 2 (2017)

A continuation of the first short, Thor discusses how life is going with Darryl. Some of the struggles for Thor and Darryl include Thor trying to pay rent with Asgardian gold and Thor destroying every board game they play.

Team Darryl (2018)

The final short follows Darryl as he has a new housemate, the Grandmaster. It is as equally silly as the original Team Thor shorts.

And that’s what you need to know about Thor!

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