'Thor' hammers competition at North American box office

Marvel's latest superhero installment "Thor: Love and Thunder" enjoyed a summer

blockbuster debut, hammering competition to top this weekend's North American

box office with an estimated $143 million haul, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

"This is another excellent Marvel opening for a series that started in 2011 and has

grown with each episode," said analyst David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research,

adding that the film nearly doubled the average take for a 4th episode superhero movie.

The comedic follow-up to 2017's "Thor: Ragnarok" stars a muscle-clad, self-

parodying Chris Hemsworth as the space viking who wields the mallet Mjolnir, but

also finds himself pining for his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman),