After a lot of joy and loss, Thor: Love and Thunder left our space viking in a relatively happy place.
Mortally defeated, Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) had one last wish — courtesy of an omnipotent being named Eternity — to either destroy the universe or choose love. Before dying, astrophysicist turned thunder goddess Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) pleads with him to choose good over evil, humanity over destruction.
Inspired by how she gave up her own life for Asgard and the rest of the universe, Gorr asks Eternity to bring his daughter back from the dead (in the movie’s opening scene, she dies from starvation and exhaustion). Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as a promise to both the dying Jane and the dying Gorr, tells them that he will take care of Gorr’s daughter, love her and won’t let her be alone.
In the last minutes of the movie, we see Thor make good on that oath. Our beloved demigod is zipping across the universe with his adopted god daughter (quite literally, she’s a goddess). They’re protecting people who cannot protect themselves. She’s teaching him how to love. He’s teaching her how to live.
And they call themselves, fittingly, Love and Thunder.
But not everyone is on board with this happy ending.
As Thor: Love and Thunder established, every type of mythology — Greek, Norse, Wakandan, even Pixar’s Bao — and all of the deities that people worship are real.
In the mid-credits scene, Zeus (Russell Crowe) is lamenting his defeat at Thor’s hands to his assembled admirers. (Lovers? Fans? It’s unclear.) Earlier in the movie, Thor, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi), and Mighty Thor/Jane go to Zeus’s hometown of Omnipotent City to ask for an army to defeat Gorr. Instead of helping, Zeus laughs at them. Instead of taking that laughter in stride, Team Thors kills his guards and take his thunderbolt.
Zeus is annoyed that gods have become a laughingstock. He’s also bummed to have been embarrassed in front of his fellow gods.
He tells his captive audience that there was a time when he was worshipped and loved by everyone, deciding that mortals need to be reminded just how powerful the gods are. To remind said mortals of how feeble and weak they are, Zeus says he will send down his son ... Hercules. That’s right, the demigod who killed the hydra and did all of those labors.
The camera pans over to reveal Hercules who is played by Brett Goldstein — best known as Roy Kent or that actor with an indelible set of eyebrows from Ted Lasso.
Goldstein’s cameo is really a casting reveal, just like Charlize Theron’s in the credits scene of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Harry Styles’ in Eternals. Goldstein’s Hercules will probably show up in Thor’s next adventure, if not sooner.
Zeus seems to be setting up Hercules as a villain, and he could be portrayed as an antagonist in the MCU, But comic book Hercules is actually more of a good guy. Armed with superhuman strength, durability, and invulnerability, he’s teamed up with the Avengers and even Thor on multiple occasions. Usually, he’s pitted against his half-brother Ares, the god of war.
But the best thing about comic book Hercules is that he’s kind of a flop nepotism baby. In one comic book storyline, Hercules decides to become a movie star, but the movies he stars in are so embarrassingly bad that he loses the adoration of mortals. Zeus finds out about his son’s awful movies and leaves him on whatever the Olympian equivalent of “on read” is, barring him from Olympus until he earns that adoration back.
There are more than a few fun and goofy Hercules storylines like this. Like Thor and Hercules drunk fighting because Hercules forgot his name (and partly because of a pig). Or Hercules and Thor switching roles and powers and then fighting! Or Thor and Hercules battling over which one of these absolute units gets to cross a bridge first! And given that Marvel picked Goldstein, a comic actor and writer, it seems like it’s likely (hopefully!) to lean into the character’s inherent silliness.
In addition to the Goldstein casting, there’s a true end-credits scene.
In it, Jane Foster finds herself in Valhalla. She has just helped to save the world and guided Gorr to choose love over destruction. But her cancer was just too far advanced, so she died a hero’s death. Heimdall (Idris Elba), the protector and watcher of the gods, greets her and thanks her for taking care of his son. He also tells her that she’s very dead. He knows because he is also dead, having died at Thanos’s hands in Infinity War. It’s a pretty brief scene, but it confirms Jane is now a hero and revered as a goddess. If Portman doesn’t return, it’s a nice, heroic end for a character that, at times, Marvel didn’t really know what to do with.
But there’s also some uncertainty: We don’t know the rules of Valhalla. We don’t know who else is in Valhalla (Tony? Odin? Loki? Freya?). We don’t know what heroes like Heimdall do in Valhalla all day? As we saw in Love and Thunder, even if death is glorious, it maybe isn’t permanent.