Here's why Natalie Portman initially left the Thor movie franchise after Thor: The Dark World. Portman will be making her glorious return to the MCU in Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder, reprising her role as Jane Foster and, more importantly, transforming into Mighty Thor. Portman has been absent from the MCU for quite some time, so why did she originally exit the Thor franchise?
Jane Foster was first introduced as an astrophysicist in 2011's Thor. After investigating New Mexico with her team, she encountered the God of Thunder and quickly got caught up in the demigod's Asgardian conflict. Jane later became Thor's love interest and returned in Thor: The Dark World. While snooping around an abandoned warehouse, Jane was infected by the Aether, the liquified form of the Reality Stone. The Aether was later drawn out of Jane and Thor helped save the day with the help of his allies on Earth. The relationship between Thor and Jane seemed fine by the end of the movie, but that was clearly not the case following Thor: The Dark World.
Jane was mentioned in passing in other MCU installments but Natalie Portman didn't appear in any films. The character did make a cameo appearance in Avengers: Endgame, but the scenes were put together using deleted footage from Thor: The Dark World. Portman did, however, record new lines that the Russo Brothers could use in the movie. Even with Portman's involvement, there was no real indication that she would be returning to the Thor franchise, or the MCU for that matter, especially based on the reasons why she left in the first place.
Up until Thor: Ragnarok, Portman was the female lead of the Thor films, so it was surprising when her character disappeared from the franchise. In 2016, the actress was asked about her future with the MCU in which she claimed to be "done" playing Jane Foster as far as she knew. The interview (via WSJ) indicated that Portman's split from Marvel was amicable considering she shared her positive feelings about her time working on the franchise. But that may not have been the case.
Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige claimed that Jane was absent from Thor: Ragnarok due to the fact that the movie primarily took place in the cosmos. Tessa Thompson notably took over as new female lead Valkyrie. In truth, the decision to remove Portman from the third Thor film was made well before the movie was being developed. Before Alan Taylor directed Thor: The Dark World, Patty Jenkins was at the helm. Due to creative differences, Jenkins was fired from the Thor sequel. Portman was very displeased with the firing and its subsequent effect on her role; it's been suggested that the actress only agreed to the sequel because of Jenkins' involvement.
But then, something changed. In 2018, Portman shared that she was open to returning to the MCU, although that comment felt more like a way to show there was no longer any bad blood between the actress and the studio; it still seemed like Thor: The Dark World was the last time Portman was willing to play Jane.
The reason for Portman's return likely lies in the completely fresh creative direction. Waititi takes a much different approach to Thor compared to other directors, and he must have done well at selling Thor: Love and Thunder. It also helps that Jane will no longer be just a love-interest. Playing Mighty Thor is much more appealing, especially for someone like Portman who is an advocate for giving women bigger opportunities on both sides of the camera.
- 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