WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Thor #705
If there was any doubt Marvel's comic book Jane Foster beat the movie version, Thor's death sealed it. Comic book fans have known that the clock was ticking down on Jane Foster's life for years. Since 2014, Jane has stood at the forefront of the Marvel Comics universe as the female Thor. Wielding the trusty hammer Mjolnir, she's proved herself in battle against everything from the Phoenix Force to Odin himself. But that story was always going to come to an end sooner rather than later.
The reason Jane Foster was worthy when Odinson wasn't was because she knew the world needed a Thor, and was prepared to pay a fearsome price. Jane was dying of cancer, and every time she turned to Thor it reversed the effect of the chemotherapy that was trying to keep her alive. Being a hero was literally killing her.
Thor #705 finally brought Jane Foster's death. With Immortal Asgard under attack, Jane realized that the gods needed her to stand as their defender. She claimed the enchanted hammer one last time, knowing it would mean her death of her. By the end of the issue, she had tossed Mjolnir into the Sun, accepting - and even embracing - death.
Jane Foster died a true hero, and the Marvel Universe will mourn the loss of one of its greats. At least, it will in the comics.
Contrast this Jane Foster to the character played by Natalie Portman in the MCU, though, and it becomes clear just how disappointing a job Marvel Studios has done with the same heroine. Jason Aaron's story shines a light on just who Jane Foster could have been had the films invested in her - indeed, who she should have been to global audiences.
A Poor Portrayal of a Key 'Thor' Character
The first two Thor films are generally numbered among Marvel's weaker movies, mainly complimented because of Tom Hiddleston's iconic portrayal of Loki (having become every bit as important to Marvel fans as most of the core Avengers). Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, however, is hardly a standout despite have the film's MacGuffin take over her body.
There are precious few similarities between the Jane of the comics and the Jane of the MCU. In the comics, Jane was introduced as a nurse who worked alongside Thor's human persona. In the movies, she's a plucky astrophysicist researching cosmic phenomena. The film's drastic rewrite of Jane's origin suggested Marvel viewed her as a "love interest," and secondary to the plot by skeptics. But as a scientist who viewed Thor as the answer to a lifelong intellectual pursuit, there was potential (which was soon abandoned).
Thor: The Dark World attempted to incorporate Jane into its central plot, but it faced an unenviable challenge: Thor and Jane's relationship was never fleshed out to the point that it even needed to be addressed upon returning to Earth in The Avengers. Fans criticized Portman's performance, but in truth the script for The Dark World didn't give the actress a chance to shine.
Worse still, the film settled for using the rest of Foster's team as little more than comic relief. By the end of the film, viewers didn't have a reason to be invested in Jane. Compare this to the Jane Foster of the comics: a character who's become strong enough to star in her own solo title for the last four years.
Her final scenes in Thor #705 are poignant and heart-wrenching, as she stands an equal to Thor Odinson himself (if not superior), prepared to do what seems unfathomable to him. They haven't been a romantic couple for years, yet the flames of passion are still visible in Russell Dauterman's art. The two share a last, passionate kiss - at Jane's urging - and the female Thor reverts to her human form, and succumbs to her cancer.
And so the saga of Thor comes to an end, awarding Jane Foster a death as worthy of the legacy of Asgard as she was in life. So... is it too late to hope that Marvel could do the same with the movie version?
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