Natalie Portman's Jane Foster is returning to the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder - where she'll be wielding Mjolnir as the Mighty Thor. As widely expected, Marvel Studios used their Hall H panel at SDCC 2019 to unveil their Phase 4 slate. It included a fourth Thor film, with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson returning as the God of Thunder and Valkyrie, King of Asgard.
Thor 4 will also see Natalie Portman reprise the role of Jane Foster, a character who hasn't been seen in the MCU since 2013's Thor: The Dark World. But this time, Jane will be far more than a mere love interest; in a plot lifted from Jason Aaron's classic comics, she'll be picking up Mjolnir and proving herself worthy of the power of Thor. Director Taika Waititi has insisted that Jane Foster's Thor should be referred to as the Mighty Thor. The name has a rich history behind it; Stan Lee always tended to use adjectives to describe his favorite superheroes, and The Mighty Thor was his favorite way of referring to the God of Thunder. It was used on the cover of 1962's Journey Into Mystery #83, Thor's debut issue, and has stuck ever since.
It's a fitting adjective for Thor, not least because it perfectly describes the kind of character Lee wanted to create in the first place. Fresh from the success of the Hulk, Lee was trying to think of a character who could rival the Jade Giant in strength, but who could also embrace the more fantastical side of the comic book genre. As Lee noted to his biographer George Mair, "How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human - make him a god." The term was associated with Thor up until 2004, when Marvel ended the Mighty Thor run due to poor sales performance.
In 2007, Marvel Comics relaunched the Thor franchise under writer J. Michael Straczynski. In order to differentiate it from previous runs, they dropped the "Mighty" adjective and simply called the book Thor. The Straczynski run is a major source of inspiration for the MCU's version of Thor - the popular scene in Thor showing crowds trying to pick up Mjolnir is lifted straight from it. As a result, while Thor has occasionally declared himself "mighty," the adjective has generally been avoided in the films.
Fast-forward to 2014, when writer Jason Aaron unveiled the new, female Thor. Aaron knew that comic book readers would initially have a mixed reaction to the change; he stressed the element of continuity by launching the book under the traditional Mighty Thor title. Not all readers took well to this, of course, and occasionally Aaron's scripts broke the fourth wall to call this out. In one issue, the super-villain Titania mocked the Goddess of Thunder and proposed alternate names like "She-Thor" and "Lady Thunderstrike." She got a beat-down for her comments, and it definitely felt as though Aaron was responding to his critics. As far as he was concerned, this woman was the Mighty Thor. It didn't take long for Jane Foster to prove worthy of the title, when she tapped into Mjolnir's power in ways even the Odinson had not.
Marvel Studios now faces a similar issue to the one Jason Aaron encountered back in 2014. They need to be able to differentiate between Thor Odinson and Jane Foster's Thor, and like Aaron they don't just want gender to be the key factor. Given that's the case, it makes sense for Marvel to follow the comics' lead and use the adjective "Mighty" - particularly, because, on the big screen, that word hasn't been used with reference to the Odinson quite so many times. It will be interesting to see whether or not the MCU's Jane Foster proves herself mighty in the same way as the comic book character did, and uses Mjolnir in ways that left even Thor Odinson envious.
- 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