Jane Foster will return as the female Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder - and it's possible her character comes from another MCU timeline. It had generally been assumed that Natalie Portman's time in the MCU had come to an end; she and Marvel had parted ways after 2013's Thor: The Dark World, and she didn't even return to shoot new scenes for Avengers: Endgame. Then, to the surprise of the entire fanbase, Marvel used San Diego Comic-Con 2019 to announce that the character of Jane Foster is returning to the MCU.
But Thor: Love and Thunder promises to see Jane become more than just a love interest. Writer-director Taika Waititi indicated that his film would draw inspiration from Jason Aaron's comic run, which saw Jane Foster wield Mjolnir as the Mighty Thor. Confirming this direction, Marvel handed Natalie Portman a prop of Thor's enchanted hammer in San Diego, and she held it aloft. Soon, the MCU looks set to greet a new, female Thor.
There's a sense in which this was effectively foreshadowed in Avengers: Endgame, when Captain America lifted Mjolnir and gained all the power of Thor himself. That served as a potent reminder that Thor Odinson isn't the only person in the cosmos who is worthy to wield Mjolnir, and sets the precedent for others to do the same. But there's just one problem; the Mjolnir Steve Rogers used was retrieved from an alternate timeline, and was returned to its own time. The Mjolnir of the mainstream MCU was destroyed by Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. So how can Jane Foster possibly gain Mjolnir, let alone become the Mighty Thor?
Mjolnir May Have Been Destroyed - But Not In Every Reality
Thor: Ragnarok may have been something of a slapstick superhero comedy, but it dealt the God of Thunder some of his biggest losses. One of the worst was the destruction of his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, which he tossed at Hela in an act that he'll forever regret. Thor had no idea how truly powerful his sister was, and she effortlessly caught Mjolnir and crushed it. The shards of broken Uru were left dumped on the cliffs of Tønsberg, in Norway.
According to co-writer Erik Pearson, Mjolnir's destruction served a crucial purpose in Thor: Ragnarok's story. "We've put a lot of doubt into his heart," he pointed out, noting that Thor initially believed the destruction of Mjolnir even meant the end of his power. "That was... the hero’s journey of finding the confidence in himself to rise up against all this crazy stuff that’s happening to him." But, while the end of Mjolnir may have been predominantly for story purposes, it was clearly intended to be decisive. The hammer was supposed to be gone for good.
Avengers: Endgame introduced a fresh wrinkle in this story, though, when Thor took another Mjolnir from an alternate timeline. That particular reality had been created by the Avengers, and Steve Rogers essentially destroyed it when he returned the Aether and Thor's enchanted hammer to the past. But this raises the intriguing possibility that there are other branches of time where Mjolnir was never destroyed at all.
The MCU's Phase 4 Is Exploring The Multiverse
Mysterio may have been faking Spider-Man out when he talked about the Multiverse in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but the concept will clearly be central to the MCU in 2021. Two of the Disney+ TV shows releasing that year are about the Multiverse, Loki and What If?. Meanwhile, one of the other films releasing that year is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It's true that the first Doctor Strange film used the word "Multiverse" to refer to other planes of existence, such as the Quantum Realm or the Dark Dimension, rather than alternate realities; but the sequel also features Scarlet Witch, a character who's created entire alternate timelines in the comics.
Given so much of 2021's MCU revolves around the Multiverse, could it also be key to Thor: Love and Thunder? One comic book story may suggest a way the Multiverse could introduce a new Mjolnir. Marvel's "Age of Ultron" comic event saw the fabric of reality itself damaged by repeated time travel. The space-time continuum fractured; realities merged, portals opened between the dimensions, and actual living beings traveled from one reality to another. It wouldn't be a surprise for Doctor Strange 2 to have similar consequences. That could well mean the Mjolnir of another universe winds up in the MCU. On the other hand, it could mean actual living beings jump from one timeline to another instead.
The Multiverse Is Tied To Jane Foster's Story
It's important to note that Taika Waititi's whole approach to Thor: Love and Thunder is very different to the one he took with Thor: Ragnarok. Discussing Ragnarok, in an interview with The Empire Film Podcast, Waititi admitted he'd not bothered to refer to the comics at all. "I read one issue of Thor as my research," he noted. "Not even a graphic novel, one of the thin, thin ones. And by the end of it I was like, well we're not doing that, let's not really look at those anymore." In contrast, when Marvel Studios announced Thor: Love and Thunder at SDCC 2019 they stressed how Waititi had been reading through the Jason Aaron run.
That makes sense; Aaron was the one who came up with Jane Foster's Thor in the first place, and wrote her story for four years. But it also means that even minor elements of the Aaron run may actually be relevant to Thor: Love and Thunder. Interestingly, Aaron's story ran through the Multiversal "Secret Wars" arc, which saw every alternate reality collide together to create a single planet called Battleworld. All the Thors of the Multiverse essentially became Battleworld's police force, and Jane Foster served a crucial role in this story, turning the Thors against Battleworld's ruler, Doom. It wouldn't be a surprise, then, to see Waititi lift the idea of a Thor arriving from another timeline.
Jane Foster's Mighty Thor Could Be From Another Reality
Putting the pieces together, then, it's certainly possible that Jane Foster's Thor could originate from an entirely different reality. That would allow Waititi to avoid reversing Mjolnir's destruction, which was such a major part of Thor's arc. It would also fit the growing emphasis on the Multiverse, and perhaps flow organically from Doctor Strange 2.; there's even comic book precedent. In narrative terms, there'd be huge advantages to this approach, because the female Thor could be a seasoned and experienced warrior, with no "Learning Curve" plot as she struggles to master her powers. Meanwhile, it would be quite entertaining to see Thor confused by a version of Jane Foster who's different to the woman he loved. It would also mean Portman got to have a fresh start.
Of course, if the Mighty Thor does indeed come from another reality, it raises the possibility that there could be other Thors as well. That might even be how the MCU finally introduces Beta Ray Bill, a Korbinite warrior who's famed for wielding both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker in the comics. Marvel's long wanted to find a way to introduce him - in fact, Beta Ray Bill almost appeared in Thor: Ragnarok - but has never quite found the right way to pull it off. Given Bill was another key player in Aaron's Thors miniseries, there's no reason Thor: Love and Thunder has to settle for just the two Thors.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021