Thor on Disney Plus: Everything to Know

Later than expected after hitting heaters, Thor: Love and Thunder is streaming on Disney Plus -- now with some CGI tweaks catching the attention of fans.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
4 min read
A lightly clad Thor stares intently

Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Marvel Studios

Thor: Love and Thunder hit theaters July 8, but with middling reviews ("disappointingly shallow" was the reaction of CNET reviewer Sean Keane), you may have been holding out until the movie made its way to Disney Plus. 

But Disney's streaming strategy for its theatrical releases has been all over the map. Encanto spent a month in theaters before streaming. For Marvel's Eternals, it was two months. West Side Story, Steven Spielberg's reimagining of the musical, hit Disney Plus about three months after it played exclusively in cinemas. 

Up until Thor: Love and Thunder, Disney seemed finally to be settling into a pattern for releasing its big films on its streaming service. But with Thor's Disney Plus date two weeks later than expected, the streaming-release timing for upcoming big movies -- like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar: The Way of Water and others -- may be unpredictable.

When did Thor: Love and Thunder start streaming on Disney Plus?

Disney Plus began streaming Thor: Love and Thunder early Thursday morning, starting at 12:01 a.m. PT/3:01 a.m. ET. 

The release date coincided with what Disney calls Disney Plus Day, an annual marketing event for the service, which typically includes adding big new titles to stream as well as some discounts and perks across Disney's other businesses. 

Is Thor available to stream 'free' on Disney Plus? 

Thor: Love and Thunder is part of the standard Disney Plus catalog, available to watch at no added cost. Some people refer to this being "free" to stream, but everything on Disney Plus still requires a paid subscription.

Was the CGI in the movie altered for the Disney Plus release? 

Fans have posted comparisons of at least one scene in which computer-generated imagery in the film appears to have been changed versus the theatrical release. 

Disney and Marvel previously have tweaked elements of other shows and movies while they've been on Disney Plus. 

But with Thor, director Taika Waititi, in a video interview breaking down a scene in the film not long after its theatrical release, made some deadpan remarks about the realism of a CGI character in the shot. The offhand comments became a flashpoint for complaints by visual effects artists about Marvel working conditions

However, the scene with seemingly altered CGI on Disney Plus is different than the one that sparked the outcry. 

When will Thor be available on DVD?

Disney has set Sept. 27 as the date Thor: Love and Thunder will be be released on DVD, 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray. 

When was Thor's previously expected Disney Plus release date? 

Thor was previously expected to hit Disney Plus two weeks earlier than it did. 

During the pandemic lockdown, Disney let many movies stream on Disney Plus the same day they were released in cinemas. But for more than a year, Disney has been giving its live-action theatrical releases long stints of exclusivity in theaters before making streaming an option. Disney hasn't officially declared a standard length for these theatrical exclusives. 

However, up until Thor, the company appeared to have settled on giving its theatrical films 47 days in theaters before streaming them on Disney Plus.

Disney's previous two films both spent 47 days in theaters before hitting Disney Plus: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness became available to stream 47 days after its wide release in theaters, and then Pixar's Lightyear started streaming on Disney Plus on Aug. 3 -- also 47 days after its theatrical release. 

But Thor: Love and Thunder's release kicks the streaming release date to 62 days after it hit theaters.

What does the timing mean for streaming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and other Disney movies? 

For future Disney theatrical releases, predicting streaming release dates is going to be guesswork again.  

Thor: Love and Thunder is hitting Disney Plus 62 days after its theatrical release. That's weeks later than the 47-day period that appeared to be becoming Disney's standard. It's closer to the length of time for theatrical exclusives last year: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was in theaters for 70 days before streaming on Disney Plus; for Eternals, it was 68 days. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, for example, will hit cinemas Nov. 11. If it were sticking with the 47-day timeline, it would be on Disney Plus on Dec. 28, tucked into the week after Christmas but before New Year's Day. Every year, that week is an extraordinarily popular time for streaming -- and for going out to the movies. Now that Thor's Disney Plus release reiterates there's really no telling when movies will start streaming, you could be able to stream the Black Panther sequel just a month and a half after it's out -- or you could have to wait until next year. 

Disney's timing decisions for Black Panther and other upcoming movies -- the new Avatar movie, the next Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy films and the live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid, to name a few -- are going to hinge on how much the company wants to generate box-office dollars versus how much it wants to reel in new streaming subscribers and keep the ones it has. And lately, big Hollywood companies like Disney aren't prioritizing streaming-subscriber growth nearly as much as they did.