Natalie Portman's MCU return via Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder was just announced at SDCC, but her deal to reprise the role as Jane Foster was set six months ago. Marvel Studios made their triumphant return to San Diego Comic Con with a 90-minute Hall H panel unveiling what's next for the franchise after skipping last year. Kevin Feige dropped some fantastic casting and project confirmations, but arguably one of the most shocking things to come out from the presentation is the reveal that Portman's Jane Foster will be back in the film series.
Debuting in 2011's Thor as the God of Thunder's (Chris Hemsworth) love interest, Portman reprised her role just one more time in Thor: The Dark World. She made a voice cameo in Avengers: Endgame, but the footage used was an extra clip from the Alan Taylor-directed Marvel film. Despite her tiny part in the culminating film, the actress still attended its Hollywood premiere - a shock to many considering that at that point, it seemed like she's done with Marvel. Little did the public know of the big things to come for her characters as she assumes the role of Mighty Thor in Love and Thunder.
Portman's appearance during the Endgame global premiere was deemed as a courtesy appearance for old time's sake. It turns out that her road back to the MCU was already paved as her deal to reprise Jane Foster was ironed out six months ago, Kevin Feige tells THR. "One of the ideas, and perhaps the biggest, was the idea of Jane. We set Natalie and Taika up and in one meeting she agreed to do it," he said. This checks out with Waititi's comments during Marvel Studios' Hall H panel, saying that he had the idea for Mighty Thor while working on Thor: Ragnarok.
Fans knew that Thor 4 is a go ahead of Marvel Studios' SDCC presentation. Waititi will be back to direct and write, and so are Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie). Most expected Feige to address the news at Hall H. But there weren't any word about Portman's surprise appearance. The actress' upcoming debut as Mighty Thor will mine narrative inspiration from Jason Aaron's Mighty Thor series (2015 to 2018) tackling Jane assuming the superhero mantle.
Ragnarok basically disregarded a lot of what came before it. It even had a line where the God of Thunder nonchalantly revealed that he and Jane parted ways, adding to the shock value of this news. Fans took Thor's comments at face value considering persistent reports that Portman wasn't exactly thrilled with the role she has in the MCU, it was a straightforward explanation on why she's never around. The fact that the Thor franchise wasn't as well-loved as the other Marvel sub-franchises may have had something to do with that. But seeing how Waititi single-handedly turned that around, finally cracking the treatment that worked best in terms of Hemsworth's acting skills and fans' preference, not to mention seeing how everyone seemed to enjoy working on the threequel, Portman's interest was piqued. And since the MCU values its interconnectivity, seeing one of its first characters return to play a major role in Phase 4 starting with Thor: Love and Thunder is something that fans are very excited about.
- 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