My family rarely misses a Marvel movie, and the new Thor: Love and Thunder is no exception. In his typical oblivious and arrogant manner, the god of thunder is trying to untangle the meaning of love while saving all the deities of the universe from Gorr, the god slayer. Because of the movie’s light-hearted and often over-the-top theatrics, it offers an easy entry point for exploring difficult subjects, such as grief, love, afterlife, and divine figures, with children.
Try one or more of these spiritual reflection activities after watching the movie together:
Gods: Gorr feels angry and abandoned by the god he worships. He sees gods as useless and decides to destroy them all. Yet other characters find the gods useful. For example, Gorr thought that his god Rapu would protect him and his daughter, and Zeus sees himself as the king of the gods and has power over lightning. Ask: What do you think a god is? Why do you think people believe in gods? If you could create a god, what would they be like? Draw pictures of your imaginary gods and share them with one another.
Families: The movie provides several stories about how families are created, from Thor’s adoption of Love to Krog’s description of two men holding hands over a lava river. Spend some time talking about the origins and characteristics of families with children. Ask: What are some different ways families are created? What kinds of people would you pick if you were creating a new family for yourself? How do you think family members should treat one another?
Names: When Thor communicates with Axl, he calls him Astrid because it is the name his father gave him. But Axl insists on being called ‘Axl’ instead. Invite children to wonder why the names people call themselves are so important. Ask: Why did Axl care what he was called? How would [do] you feel if someone refuses to use your preferred name? Share with each other the name you would choose (or have chosen) for yourself and why.
Afterlife: Several characters discuss what happens after death, ranging from the Norse ‘Hall of the Slain’ to Gorr’s empty afterlife. (If children stayed for the post-credit bonus scene, they also saw Jane Foster entering Valhalla.) Use these ideas and images as a non-scary way to explore ideas of an afterlife with children. Ask: What are some things people think happen after we die? In what ways do you think people ‘live on’ after they have died? What do you think will happen after you die? Draw pictures of your imagined afterlives and share them with one another.
Grief: Thor and Gorr struggle with feelings of sadness throughout the movie. Both show a variety of responses to this big emotion, including fighting with others, being alone, ignoring it, or sharing their sadness. Brainstorm with your child more ways people might deal with sad feelings. Take turns acting out sad moments and different responses. (Start with some of the movie scenes to get things rolling.) End your playacting with these questions: Next time you are sad, which one of these responses do you think you might use? Why?