Thor: Love and Thunder has settled into being in the bottom five of the worst reviewed movies in the MCU by critics on Rotten Tomatoes with its 67%, but as predicted, audience scores have come in and they are quite a bit higher than that.
The audience score is an 83%, 16% higher than the critics’ score, and pretty similar to what we just saw with Doctor Stranger in the Multiverse of Madness with its 74% score from critics that went up to an 85% audience score.
While overall, critic and audience scores roughly create the same ranking order of MCU movies, lately, the divergence appears to be widening a bit. The biggest gap to date is between Eternals, which had the MCU’s only rotten score of 47%, but audiences scored it a 78%, a 31% difference, and nothing else is even close to that.
So while Thor: Love and Thunder’s 67% ties it for the third worst MCU movie, just 1% above Thor: The Dark World, the 83% audience score would put it between Ant-Man (85%) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (82%), making it #18 out of 29 total MCU movies. Still in the bottom half, but also not third from last.
What’s the problem? The main complaint from critics seems to be that there are too many jokes that work against the plot, but those jokes appear to be appreciated more by audiences. Anecdotally, most of my non-critic friends that have seen the movie seem to have liked it quite a bit. I can’t see it until Monday, probably, but I’ll have my own thoughts then. Given how much I love Taika Waititi, I am biased toward giving him a lot of leeway to do whatever he wants.
Thor: Love and Thunder has also put up one of the MCU’s best opening weekend box office performances early on here, which ultimately, is going to be all Disney cares about. What’s less clear is where Thor goes from here and when, whether Hemsworth will stay “retired,” and if the next time the Avengers assemble, it will be Jane Foster who answers the call instead. I’m guessing that’s the idea, but that’s probably not even going to happen until phase 5 at this rate.
As for the general trends here, I think movie critics are getting somewhat fatigued with the Marvel formula at this point, as we’re starting to see scores slide in non-Spider-Man fare this phase. We’ll see what the next few films bring.