Watch: Natalie Portman's Jane Foster returns in new Thor 4 trailer
It’s hammer time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster rejoins the gods and monsters of the Thor movies.
Taika Waiti returns to directorial duties for Thor: Love and Thunder — in IMAX and UK cinemas from 7 July — which will be Portman’s first physical appearance since 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, after archive footage of her was used in Avengers: Endgame.
With much having changed in nearly a decade, you might be asking how Foster fits into all of this.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Welcoming the Mighty Thor
Pulled directly from the pages of the Marvel comics, Foster is taking the mantle of Thor. A female Thor was introduced in 2014’s Thor Vol. 4 #1 after Thor Odinson had become unworthy and an unidentified woman grabbed his hammer on the Moon.
In the comics, Jane was gifted the name Thor, while the male version simply referred to himself as Odinson. So as not to confuse MCU fans, Portman’s version is officially called the Mighty Thor.
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Although we've known for Portman would be reprising her role as the bookish astrophysicist since Comic-Con 2019, Waititi promises Foster will be less “boring” than before.
This presumably has something to do with her underwhelming role in Thor: The Dark World, and picking up Thor’s hammer with her swole new look.
“On Black Swan, I was asked to get as small as possible,” Portman recently told Variety. “[On Love and Thunder] I was asked to get as big as possible. That’s an amazing challenge — and also state of mind as a woman.”
Foster’s return at the end of the Love and Thunder trailer was a huge reveal, as she wielded what looks like Thor’s hammer that Hela destroyed in Ragnarok. With the cracks clearly visible, it proves this isn’t Mjolnir from an alternate timeline, while we’ve already been told this is our Jane Foster and not one that’s hopped through the Multiverse.
For those questioning how Jane is worthy to lift Mjolnir, Marvel Comics also has the answer. One of Jane’s most iconic arcs started when Thor was off fighting Gorr the God Butcher and Jane learned she had breast cancer.
Although using Mjolnir gave Foster superpowers, it purged her body of her chemotherapy and meant she’d eventually succumb to her cancer. It all sounds pretty dark for the seemingly light-hearted tone of Love and Thunder, however, Portman confirmed in a 2020 interview that we’re at least partly going down this route.
If that wasn’t enough, Christian Bale has signed up to play Gorr as the big bad.
After comic book Thor lost his powers because Nick Fury whispered in his ear (don't ask), the vacuum allowed the likes of the Dark Elves to rise.
When Jane first grabbed Mjolnir on the Moon, she famously said, “There must always be a Thor.”
Read more: All we know about Thor 4
The Love and Thunder trailer featured a solemn Thor placing his Stormbreaker axe in the ground. Whether he jets off with the Guardians of the Galaxy or not, it looks like he’s giving up being the Norse God of Thunder.
We’ve also seen a concerned-looking Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) ruling over New Asgard, while official photos show her sitting alongside Foster and Bast the Panther God.
This could explain where Russell Crowe’s Zeus comes into things as the Greek God of Thunder, but with a God-hunting maniac on the prowl, the various mythologies will likely come together against a common enemy. Remember, Moon Knight introduced us to the Egyptian gods and was originally supposed to tie into Love and Thunder until references to Gorr were cut.
It remains to be seen how Love and Thunder handles the source material, but in the comics, every time Jane transformed into Thor, it brought her closer to death. She eventually sacrificed herself in one final act, but in classic comic book style, she was quickly resurrected.
Read more: How Thor made the MCU possible
The MCU likes to keep itself a little more grounded, but if Jane gets killed off, she could join Thor alumni Heimdall as one of the few franchise deaths that have stuck. More likely, this is just the start of the Mighty Thor's journey.
The Future of the Mighty Thor
It’s unclear how long Portman will continue being the Mighty Thor, with some wild theorists saying she could take over permanently if Hemsworth’s Odinson dies in Love of Thunder.
Phase 4 of the MCU is in an era of transition, with projects queuing Yela Belova, Sam Wilson, Kate Bishop, and Jennifer Walters to take over from OG Avengers. Even Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is stepping up as a dark Nick Fury.
The popular choice is to have Jane continuing to fight alongside her male counterpart. This also makes her a viable candidate for the long-rumoured New Avengers lineup with the likes of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and more.
If the New Avengers doesn’t sign up the Mighty Thor, there are those whispers of an all-female A-Force movie that Love and Thunder’s Thompson has championed herself.
Others have speculated about how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sets up Secret Wars - which could be the next Infinity War-level ensemble for the mythical Avengers 5.
Jane's Thor became a mainstay of the comics and had a major part to play in Secret Wars as one of the heroes saved from the destruction of the Multiverse and sent to Battleworld.
Read more: Thor's story in the MCU so far
If this is the case, expect the Mighty Thor to flex her muscles and duke it out in that live-action Secret Wars adaptation everyone keeps speculating about.
Considering Ragnarok reduced Jane to a throwaway line about her breaking up with Thor, some assumed we might never see Odinson’s love interest again.
Then again, don’t expect this new and improved Jane Foster to be the mild-mannered science girl that puts up with Thor touring the Nine Realms while she’s left on Earth.
Either way, the Mighty Thor is destined to be like a bolt of lightning to Waititi’s much-hyped sequel, and hopefully, one that can redeem Foster’s sometimes snooze-worthy MCU legacy.
Thor: Love and Thunder opens in cinemas IMAX and cinemas on 7 July, 2022.