“Thor: Love and Thunder” was released on Friday, July 8 and is officially my second favorite Marvel movie with the first being “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (and yes, I have a list of the movies and shows in order of my favorites; it's extensive.) “Love and Thunder” kept my attention the whole time; I was so engrossed the entire time, I forgot to take notes on the movie like I usually do for reviews (Don’t tell my editors).

I’ll be completely transparent: I went into this movie with low hopes. I knew it’d be good, mainly because Taika Waititi is a god amongst Marvel directors, but considering how much of a trainwreck “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was, I was hesitant.

With that said, this movie exceeded my minimal expectations. The storyline was intriguing and heartbreaking, with an ending that felt like a send-off to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as Marvel appears to be easing out the original six Avengers in order to introduce new heroes. However, the mid-credit scene does leave an opening for a fifth Thor movie. On that note, stay until the second end-credit scene; it is one of my favorites.

One of my expectations was for this to be very similar to “Thor: Ragnarok” and be quite funny. The film was funny — a Taika Waititi film will always be hilarious in various ways — but it also had so much more emotion than expected. I cried several times during this movie, which isn’t much of a feat, (I still cry every time Black Widow dies in Endgame) but crying during a Thor movie was unexpected.

The film also manages to be quite scary at some points, something that was surprisingly lacking from “Multiverse of Madness,” the one Marvel movie that was advertised as a horror movie. The scares themselves are mainly derived from Chrstian Bale’s villain, Gorr.

The way Gorr conducts himself and chooses to go after the heroes with his shadow creatures while popping out of the shadows himself makes for quite a few jump scares and edge-of-your-seats moments. It’s also scarily easy to relate to Gorr, who curses the gods he believed in for not helping him. Anyone who has lost something and cursed a higher power is rather easy to relate to. He is the best type of villain: one you can understand.

The fight scenes against Gorr showcased some exquisite cinematography, especially when in the shadow realm. The shadow realm is devoid of color, so the whole scene is rendered in black and white except for the weapons of our heroes. It made for one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Another standout thing about Gorr as a villain is that he had an actual motive, unlike other Marvel villains, like those found in the “Iron Man” films. “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” both have well-rounded villains with a motive that makes sense.

Some characters didn’t get as much of a story arc as I had hoped for — especially Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) — but I did enjoy everyone included in the film. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), also known as Mighty Thor, has a heartbreaking but beautiful storyline. I do hope we get a Valkyrie movie in the future, though.

All in all, the surprising emotional bits, a well-rounded villain and Thor’s presence in general (I’ve loved him since I was little) made for an excellent movie that exceeded expectations. I am looking forward to a potential fifth installment.

Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @esecor2003