Last week we learned that Taika Waititi is returning to write and direct Thor 4. Taika was then on hand at Comic-Con, along with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, to officially announce the movie, which is titled Thor: Love and Thunder. That title is AMAZING. The key art is even better. The movie isn’t coming until November 5, 2021 which is TOO FAR AWAY. You don’t even have to tell me any more than the name and “Taika Waititi is writing and directing” and I am here for it yesterday. But this segment in Marvel’s panel contained one of the biggest surprises—one of the only real surprises—they had: Natalie Portman is returning as Jane Foster, and this time she’ll be suiting up as Thor.
This comes on the heels of Portman’s surprise cameo in Avengers: Endgame, but her appearance was culled from unused footage from Thor: The Dark World. She didn’t actually have to do anything to be in that movie except record one line. But then she came to the premiere and surprised everyone because we thought she was done with Marvel. She had one of the least successful runs, playing a character that never clicked in movies that didn’t quite work. But now she is coming back to play hands-down the best version of Jane Foster: God of Thunder.
Taika name checked The Mighty Thor in the panel, in which Jane Foster becomes “Thor”, while the actual Thor is off f-cking around space feeling unworthy. You can see how that’s not a huge leap for a post-Endgame Thor story. Mostly they just have to tweak what hammer Jane picks up. The most interesting facet of this story, and one I hope makes it into the movie, is that Jane is stricken with breast cancer. Every time she calls on the power of Thor, she is given Asgardian strength, which means Asgardian healing—no cancer. But when she goes back to being regular Jane, the cancer comes back. And because she’s in this healing cycle, it undoes her chemotherapy every time. Jane has to face what it means to be a hero when it is literally killing her to do so. I would LOVE to see Natalie Portman play that out, it would justify casting her in this role all those years ago.
But Portman isn’t the only leading lady in the movie. Tessa Thompson is returning as Valkyrie, now King of Asgard, and she says her first order of business is to “find her queen”. Everyone went nuts, of course, at the suggestion Valkyrie could be the first out LGBTQ character in Marvel (that matters, enough of that cameo sh-t). There was a scene shot for Ragnarok that got cut which suggested Valkyrie is bi, so this would really just be committing to the characterization and not editing it out again. Naturally, it is driving fanbros nuts that Marvel’s Phase 4 is so woke, but literally no one cares about them, least of Marvel. In the last couple years, they have found an even greater level of success by embracing diversity and increasing representation. Why would they ever stop now?
Also continuing to find success by embracing representation is Chris Hemsworth. He’s coming back to front another Thor movie, but one in which he might not even be the main Thor. Maybe this ends up more Portman’s movie. Maybe they’re co-leads. However it works out, Hemsworth remade his career when he decided to share his spotlight with women. He gets it—he benefits from diversifying his movies, too. And he seems genuinely excited to welcome Natalie Portman back and share the hammer with her. How many other A-listers share spotlight like this? Chris Hemsworth is putting the “ally” in A-lister.