As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to grow, it has become an increasingly difficult task to juggle all of the popular characters, while new ones are being added every year. Those challenges will continue to intensify as Phase 3 of the MCU barrels toward its conclusion with the most ambitious superhero team-up film ever attempted, in the form of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018.
Of course, the MCU is made up of far more than just superheroes. There are also supporting characters that have helped to create the breathing fabric of the comic book-based movie world. The Thor series has one of the deepest benches of memorable MCU role players, which have helped to highlight and define the Asgardian hero. Whether it was the Warriors Three, Dr. Erik Selvig, or Agent Phil Coulson, Thor's cast has been so special that they crossed over into other productions as well. However, not every major supporting Thor character will make it into future Marvel films.
It was already known that Thor's love interest, astrophysicist Jane Foster, will not be appearing in Thor: Ragnarok, but her MCU future after that was less clear. Oscar-winner Natalie Portman (who plays Jane) touched on that very issue during an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
“As far as I know, I’m done. I don’t know if, maybe, one day they’ll ask for an Avengers 7 or whatever. I have no idea! But as far as I know I’m done.”
Admittedly, Jane Foster hasn't been one of the more memorable characters since her introduction in 2011's Thor. However, the character has blossomed in some truly unexpected ways in the world of Marvel Comics since then. In fact, Foster is Thor in the pages of the comics currently. So, despite the character's absence from the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, it's understandable that fans would wonder if Portman is being primed for a literally all-new appearance in the MCU.
However, Portman's comments suggest her tenure as Foster may well be done. Portman has expressed her appreciation for her time acting in the first two Thor movies, but appears to have mentally moved on from the role. Additionally, her statement seems to signal that she is not actively looking to be a part of the MCU's future, unless "asked" by the studio. That "ask" sounds like the actress may be contracted for more films, but since the Marvel isn't asking her to clear out time to film, its possible that Foster is simply being written out of the ongoing storyline.
It will be interesting to see how the writers of Thor: Ragnarok address the absence of Foster, after how the issue was (awkwardly) handled in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Foster was Thor's Earthbound motivation throughout his first two adventures, so we will see who, or what, will fill that void in his life in the upcoming film. Of course, Portman could be pulling some misdirection here. For all we know, she could be bench-pressing and doing one-armed pull-ups to play Jane Foster/Thor in the future. (Probably not, but no harm in dreaming, right?)
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers 4 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.