Note: contains (potential) spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder
Even though Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is kicking off with Black Widow’s solo film (taking place before Infinity War), Kevin Feige finally revealed the rest of the slate at San Diego Comic-Con.
Since the Thor franchise was reinvigorated by Taika Waititi’s unique comedic style combined with the colourful, wacky designs of original comics artist Jack Kirby, the director is returning for the Odinson’s next outing. Waititi also revealed that Natalie Portman is returning as Jane Foster after finding inspiration from 2016’s ‘The Mighty Thor’ by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson.
He explained: “That storyline is incredible… full [of] emotion, love and thunder and introduces for the first time female Thor”. That means exactly what you think it does – Natalie Portman’s going to be the Goddess of Thunder.
It’s fair to say that Jane Foster hasn’t exactly had the best treatment in the MCU. She was pretty much reduced to plot exposition and being simply a love interest during Thor and Thor: The Dark World. Given Natalie Portman’s acting calibre, it was disappointing to see her relegated like that. But that was the early days of the franchise and they’re seemingly taking steps in the right direction (like Black Widow finally getting her own solo film).
So let’s roll back the clock a little further and take a peek at Jane Foster’s superhero origins. In 2014’s eight-issue ‘Thor’ series (also by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson) the Odinson is deemed unworthy to wield the hammer Mjolnir and a mystery woman takes his place.
By the last page of the series it’s revealed that a cancer-stricken Jane Foster is the one wielding the hammer, but each time she transforms into the god of thunder, her health deteriorates. Jane’s condition would be a heartbreaking story on screen – since Thor is faced with the possibility of losing her to something he can’t control.
Waititi said that he appreciated the emotional weight of the 2016 storyline, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if this makes it into the film.
Also, let’s get it out of the way and presume there’s a cosmic reason in the MCU that Mjolnir has been remade or returned from another timeline and that’s how Jane becomes Thor.
Aside from the Jane Foster mystery, what kind of threat would be big enough to eventually need two Thors to deal with it? After all, it’s pretty much a given that Jane and Thor will team up at some point in the film.
As cosmic alliances shift in ‘The Mighty Thor’ a war erupts between the Light and Dark Elves, while Jane in her human form is a senator in the ‘Congress of New Worlds’ – something that Earth might need in the wake of Endgame. The comics heavily focus on Malekith the Dark Elf and his nefarious plan to plunge the Nine Realms into chaos.
In the wake of Endgame, he could return somehow (although good luck getting Christopher Ecclestone back onboard). Waititi might be able to rectify the mistakes of Marvel’s past and also tidily bring the Thor franchise full circle. With her expertise in science and physics alongside her extraterrestrial experience, Jane would be a prime candidate for working alongside new civilisations.
We also know that the Marvel shows on Disney+ will link more intricately into the MCU. Is it a coincidence that ‘The Mighty Thor’ features a whole bunch of different versions of Loki when he’s getting his own time-travelling TV series debuting only a few months before Thor: Love and Thunder? Kid Loki, Viking Loki, normal Loki and Old Loki all crop up in the series to cause havoc for Thor. So expect to see Tom Hiddlestone come back in some capacity. (Yay!)
But in the interest of laying completely new ground, THR speculated that Mangog (a monstrous manifestation of all the hate from an alien race) could be the villain of Thor: Love and Thunder, and that definitely lines up with Jane’s story. At the end of ‘The Mighty Thor‘, she’s forced to battle the monster and it takes a brutal toll on her. Thor uses the last of her strength to stop the Mangog from slaughtering the Asgardians.
Jane ties the monster to Mjolnir and throws it into the sun, reverting back to herself and dying in Thor’s arms… Talk about overkill.
Don’t worry, Odinson manages to save her life using a force called the God Tempest. Interestingly, before Jane’s resurrection, she stands at the Gates of Valhalla and Odin is there waiting to greet her. It would be a welcome sight to see Anthony Hopkins on screen again, especially since his brief emotional departure in Ragnarok.
After all that, Jane lets Thor take the mantle of God of Thunder back for himself, allowing herself to stick to chemotherapy and heal rather than race off every five minutes to go save the cosmos. That doesn’t last long though – Jane is still running around saving New York in the comics at the moment, but she isn’t Thor.
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Instead she’s drafted into the ‘War of the Realms‘ event using an alternate version of her hammer, becoming Thor for one last time and fighting Malekith, the Dark Elves and the Frost Giants.
But at the end of the series she winds up becoming the last Valkyrie to help ferry the souls of the dead to Valhalla. It would be a worthy ending for Jane in the MCU to intertwine her fate with the very nature of Asgardian mythology, since she was studying it for so many years before knowing what it truly was.
Perhaps Marvel are so impressed with Jason Aaron’s current Asgardian event that they want to see it on screen in the next few years?
Here’s a final prediction: now that Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is the ruler of New Asgard, she mentioned at Comic-Con that she “needs to find her Queen”. What if some of Taika Waititi’s signature comedy comes from Valkyrie trying to one-up Thor in winning Jane over?
Thor: Love and Thunder is released on November 5, 2021.