Why Natalie Portman Won’t Regret Returning to ‘Thor’

Many outlets, including ours, correctly predicted a lot of movies revealed in Marvel’s Phase 4 slate, including Shang Chi, The Eternals and a Doctor Strange sequel. What almost no one saw coming was a fourth Thor movie, Love and Thunder. And Natalie Portman‘s Thor was an even bigger surprise.

This was because it was widely reported that Portman was done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe after starring in the first two Thor movies. She had been displeased that her preferred director, Patty Jenkins, left Thor: The Dark World to be replaced by Alan Taylor. Jenkins then went on to direct Wonder Woman and its sequel, which is coming out next summer.

Portman appearing at the Avengers: Endgame premiere was a clue that something big was in the works.

Portman’s Thor has been in development for awhile

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

When Portman appeared at the premiere, people assumed it was because she was in Endgame, like a lot of other former MCU stars such as Robert Redford. Portman was in Endgame, but it was footage repurposed from The Dark World — Portman hadn’t actually shot anything new. 

It seemed odd that Portman would show up when her scenes were shot years ago. And it seemed odder still that she didn’t speak at the premiere. Now we know why: She was under the Marvel code of silence. 

According to Movieweb, Portman’s return has been in the works for several months. Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi came up with the idea, and Marvel President Kevin Feige was all for it.

“One of the ideas, and perhaps the biggest, was the idea of Jane. We set Natalie and Taika up and in one meeting she agreed to do it,” he said.

‘Lady Thor’ comes from the comics

Portman’s Thor character Jane Foster wasn’t just a love interest in the comic books. Writer Jason Aaron came up with the idea for a story that appeared in 2014. Foster’s husband and son had died in a car accident, and Foster contracted breast cancer. 

Jane ends up picking up Thor’s hammer and gains his abilities, including superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and control over lightning. Thor, impressed with her, relinquishes his role as Thor and takes the name Odinson instead.

Aaron wholeheartedly approves of Portman’s role, tweeting “Consider me thunderously excited … I can’t wait to see Taika Waititi & Natalie Portman bring the Goddess of Thunder to life.”

What will happen in the new movie? 

As usual, Marvel didn’t reveal a lot about Thor: Love and Thunder, but they did say this much: Tessa Thompson will return as Valkyrie, another character whose role Jane Foster assumes in the comics. It was also confirmed that Thompson’s Valkyrie was the first openly gay MCU character, leaving fans to speculate whether Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers will soon join those ranks. 

Portman herself didn’t say much during the Comic-Con reveal, except “I’ve always had a little hammer envy.” We also know that Chris Hemsworth will return in his role, presumably to hand over the hammer. 

So where does this leave Thor’s supposed adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy, whom he joined at the end of Endgame? It’s not known for sure yet. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was not part of the lineup that goes through 2021, and Love and Thunder is the last of those, due for release on November 5, 2021. 

We presume that’s because Gunn is directing the Suicide Squad sequel which is due out Aug. 6, 2021, so that will push Guardians to 2022 or later. Gunn did confirm on Twitter that Love and Thunder takes place before the events of Guardians 3