Natalie Portman shocked the audience at the Marvel Studios panel at SDCC when she took the stage alongside Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, director Taika Waititi, and stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, for the announcement that she will be the titular hero in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’. Yes, that’s the titular hero. Just as she did in the comics, Jane Foster will assume the role of Thor.
As Waititi said, “So, there’s only one person who can do that,” as Portman walked on stage. Waititi presented her with a prop of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. Portman quipped:
“This feels pretty good. I’ve always had a little hammer envy.”
In ‘Avengers: Endgame’, Thor passed the mantle of King of New Asgard to Thompson’s Valkyrie. As Thompson told the crowd:
“As new king (of Asgard), she needs to find her queen. That will be the first order of business.”
Is that where Portman’s Jane Foster/Thor comes into play? (Feige indicated that Valkyrie’s storyline is “LGBTQ,” something that Thompson has been pushing for.)
In the comics, written by Jason Aaron, after Thor is deemed unworthy of wielding Mjolnir, Jane Foster picks up the hammer during a battle on Earth with the Frost Giants and is given the powers of Thor. However, at this point, Jane has developed breast cancer and whenever she uses Mjolnir, its enchantments undo her chemotherapy. Eventually, cancer overcomes her and she dies, but this being a comic book, she is resurrected.
Portman played Jane Foster in 2011’s ‘Thor’ and 2013’s ‘Thor: The Dark World’. Portman, who previously starred in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels, made it known that she was unhappy with major franchise picture, and did not return for subsequent movies, like ‘Avengers’. Instead, her photograph would appear to indicate that she was “safe.” In ‘Avengers: Endgame’, archival footage of her from ‘Dark World’ was used. It would seem that Portman was done with Marvel for good and had moved on.
It’s likely that Portman was drawn back by the fact that she would get to actually play a superhero herself. While some female love interests in Marvel movies are ass-kickers on their own– Peggy Carter, Nakia, The Wasp– Portman’s Jane, like Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross, and Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer, are just there to be “the girlfriend.” It’s understandable how that can be frustrating.
How will Portman do as Thor? How does her path intersect with Valkyrie’s? Also, how does Chris Hemsworth’s Thor factor in, considering he left Earth at the end of ‘Endgame’?
Questions will be answered when ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ arrives in theaters on November 5, 2021.