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Note: The following article contains lots of spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder.
Thor: Love and Thunder is finally in cinemas, bringing its rock jukebox soundtrack and colourful visuals to the big screen as Taika Waititi gives Marvel's favourite god another unique adventure. This time around, Chris Hemsworth's deity of Asgard is pitted against the dangerous threat posed by Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher, who is... well, he's butchering gods.
Thor travels to New Asgard where he reconnects with King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who has been joined by a new hero — Thor's ex Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), now wielding Mjolnir in the guise of Mighty Thor. Together, the trio — along with the Waititi-voiced Korg — attempt to put a stop to Gorr before he acquires the ability to wipe out all of the gods in one fell swoop.
Read more: Recapping Thor's journey in the MCU so far
The movie is less cameo and in-joke focused than recent Marvel efforts like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but it does feature plenty of things worthy of note for Marvel devotees and those who love a surprise appearance. Certainly, there was plenty of raucous applause in the IMAX press screening. Let's take a look at some of the big moments...
When we last saw Thor at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, he was set to jet off around the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Anybody hoping for an adventure heavy on Star-Lord, Groot and the rest of the gang will have been disappointed by Love and Thunder, which instead gives the Guardians little more than a glorified cameo.
The likes of Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista and the rest appear briefly in the movie's first act as a hedonistic Thor fights alongside them before seeing a video of Lady Sif — more on her later — in danger.
This prompts him to gift the Guardians their ship back, before flying off with the aid of some screaming goats. Yep, you heard that right...
Thor: Love and Thunder sees Thor gifted a pair of enormous goats after helping to save a planet alongside the Guardians. The creatures, known as Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder, are established allies of Thor in Marvel Comics and in the original Norse mythology from which the comics have drawn over the years.
In the comics, the goats pull a chariot for Thor which, in the movie, becomes a pirate ship referred to as the Goat Boat. They have repeatedly been used in the comics as battering rams and have allowed Thor to ferry others around to safety, as well as providing him with meat to consume before regenerating their bodies. In the movie, though, they just wail a lot.
Chris Hemsworth has even suggested that the screams constantly emitted by the goats could have been provided by Waititi himself. That, sadly, has not been confirmed. Waititi himself says they were taken from an EDM track.
Jaimie Alexander hasn't appeared in a movie as Thor ally Lady Sif since Thor: The Dark World in 2013, having been forced to sit out Ragnarok due to scheduling conflicts. Endgame co-director Joe Russo confirmed in an interview that Sif was one of the victims of Thanos's Snap, subsequently resurrected when the Avengers triumphed over the Mad Titan. She popped up for a brief, fun cameo in the Loki series last year on Disney+.
In Love and Thunder, Sif appears on a video under attack from Gorr the God Butcher. When Thor finally catches up with her, she has lost an arm during the course of a fight with Gorr. In the final moments of the film, we see her helping to train young residents of New Asgard — including Heimdall's son Axl — in combat.
One of the highlights of Thor: Ragnarok was a memorable scene in which Loki — then disguised as Odin — presided over a theatrical re-enactment of his heroic, sacrificial death in Thor: The Dark World. In the performance, Matt Damon played Loki, Luke Hemsworth played Thor and Sam Neill portrayed Odin.
The trio return in Love and Thunder in a performance based around Odin's death in Ragnarok and the subsequent arrival of third Odinson sibling Hela, who is portrayed here by Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy's husband and regular collaborator Ben Falcone plays a stagehand involved in the production. The couple had previously touted for a role in the film via a social media video.
Darcy and Selvig
Fan favourite MCU character Darcy Lewis was last seen in WandaVision, in which she was recruited by S.W.O.R.D. to help investigate what was happening in Westview. She escaped in the aftermath of those events before she could face questioning, but reappears in Love and Thunder in order to support her friend Jane Foster — who has been diagnosed with stage four cancer — through her chemotherapy.
Jane and Darcy are working together in an attempt to find a new treatment for her illness, with the help of another old buddy. Although he only appears briefly, we see Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) advising Jane via a video call. Even Marvel characters love a Zoom quiz, it seems.
God of Dumplings
Halfway through the movie, the Asgardian gang visit Omnipotence City — the parliament of the gods — with the hope of recruiting Zeus (Russell Crowe, complete with a comedy Greek accent) to their fight against Gorr. On entry, they meet a selection of different deities, including a God of Magic, a god who is a kronan like Korg and a God of Dumplings in the form of an animated bao bun.
Among the numerous supporting cast members of Thor: Love and Thunder are several family members of the major cast, according to Indiewire, including the children of Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Taika Waititi and Christian Bale. Many of them play members of the group of Asgardian children who are kidnapped by Gorr.
Hemsworth confirmed his kids' presence in an interview with Kevin McCarthy, revealing that one of his twin sons Tristan plays the role of Young Thor in a flashback scene. Meanwhile, anyone who noticed a very specific accent in the final scene will have guessed that Hemsworth's eldest daughter India portrays Gorr's daughter, who is eventually referred to as Love. Hemsworth's wife Elsa Pataky is also in the cast list, credited as Wolf Woman.
As has become traditional in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Love and Thunder has both a mid-credits sequence and a post-credits scene. The mid-credits scene focuses on Russell Crowe's Zeus, who had survived being stabbed with his own thunderbolt by Thor earlier in the movie. He laments the lack of respect afforded to gods nowadays before summoning his son, Hercules, to go after Thor in an attempt to reassert gods over superheroes. Hercules, we see, is played by none other than Ted Lasso actor Brett Goldstein, boasting an equally outrageous Greek accent to the one Crowe is using.
Read more: Every upcoming Marvel movie and TV series
Meanwhile, the post-credits sequence features the surprise return of Idris Elba as Heimdall, who is seen welcoming Jane Foster into Valhalla. He thanks her for helping to protect his son Axl from Gorr before welcoming her fondly to take her place among the other fallen warriors of Asgard.
We've delved a little deeper into these credits scenes and what they mean for the future of the MCU in a separate article.
Thor: Love and Thunder is available to watch in UK cinemas and IMAX now.
Watch: Trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder