Five years after Thor: Ragnarok gave the Marvel Cinematic Universe's favourite Norse god a shot in the arm, that movie's director Taika Waititi has returned to the character with Thor: Love and Thunder. It's the fourth solo outing for Chris Hemsworth, who first played the character for Kenneth Branagh way back in 2011, and this time he's joined by Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, who returns in the guise of Mighty Thor.
The movie sees the trio of heroes — alongside rock creature Korg, voiced by Waititi — as they attempt to rescue the children of New Asgard from Christian Bale's skin-crawling bad guy Gorr the God Butcher. There are also screaming goats, for some reason.
Read more: Thor: Love and Thunder's best Easter eggs
It's a typically colourful adventure peppered with Waititi's trademark comedy, which is receiving a mixed bag of reviews from critics. And of course, after the credits roll, there are a few brief sequences for fans to feast their eyes upon. One of them provides a nice farewell to several characters, while the other offers a glimpse into what the future might hold for the God of Thunder.
Let's dive into Thor: Love and Thunder's mid-credits and post-credits scenes and what they mean for the future...
What happens in the Thor: Love and Thunder mid-credits scene?
Halfway through Love and Thunder, Thor and his friends travel to Omnipotence City — the parliament of the gods — in order to try to amass an army of deities against Gorr. Their chief target is the all-powerful showman Zeus, played by Russell Crowe in a tiny skirt and with an outrageous Greek accent. He doesn't have much interest in helping and a fight breaks out, which culminates in Thor fatally skewering Zeus with his own thunderbolt.
Read more: Looking back at Kenneth Branagh's Thor movie
Or at least, it seems fatal at the time. In the first credits sequence, Zeus appears with a large wound in his chest as he is nursed by several of his female minions. He delivers a venomous monologue about how "it used to mean something to be a god". He adds that people "just want to see one of their so-called superheroes" and that "they will fear us again".
After issuing his threatening monologue, he summons his son Hercules and sends him after Thor. A brief glimpse of Hercules before the credits continue shows that he is played by Ted Lasso star and British stand-up comedian Brett Goldstein. The IMAX screen at the London press screening gave him quite the vocal response.
Hercules is a significant figure in Marvel comics, leading his own series The Incredible Hercules and appearing as a member of the Avengers. Introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as part of the Silver Age in the 1960s, His early appearances involved fighting with Thor, but the characters soon bonded and became powerful allies — a potential suggestion of where Goldstein's version of the character will end up.
The character has all of the superhuman powers you'd expect of a god and wields a golden mace which possesses similar strength to Thor's trusty hammer, albeit without its magical abilities.
Read more: Recapping the MUC history of Thor
Within just a few years of his comic book debut, Hercules was fighting alongside the Avengers. While he is introduced in Love and Thunder as a villain and a Thor-n in the side of our hero, it seems likely that he'll go on to be a valuable ally. Certainly, given Goldstein's likeable comic persona, he'd make for a great double act with Hemsworth's increasingly goofy take on Thor.
Hercules is the latest in an array of major characters to be introduced via post-credits sequences, following Charlize Theron as Clea in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Harry Styles as Eros in Eternals. The enormous ensemble cast of the MCU just keeps getting bigger.
What happens in the Thor: Love and Thunder post-credits scene?
The final scene of Thor: Love and Thunder centres on Jane Foster, who had died in the climactic scenes involving Thor and Gorr at Eternity. We meet her as she arrives in an ethereal realm with a resemblance to New Asgard. Jane is met there by Idris Elba as Heimdall, who was killed by Thanos back in the opening scenes of Avengers: Infinity War. His return in Love and Thunder had been a persistent rumour.
Heimdall thanks Jane for helping to protect his son Axl (Kieron L. Dyer) and the rest of the Asgardian children kidnapped by Gorr, before telling her she's welcome to join him and other fallen Asgardian warriors in Valhalla.
This seems like a final goodbye for Jane Foster, putting a full stop at the end of her story after she was finally coaxed back into the MCU and got the chance to get into the thick of the action as a bona fide superhero. And while it's nice to see Heimdall again, it seems very likely that this will be the last we see of him, with Axl stepping up to walk in his father's footsteps.
Thor: Love and Thunder is in UK cinemas and in IMAX now.
Watch: Trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder