-- Minor SPOILERS for Thor: Ragnarok lie ahead --
Unsurprisingly, a third entry into the God of Thunder's solo series wasn't exactly put on the fast track following the tepid response to The Dark World. Nearly two years passed before Thor: Ragnarok even locked down its director, Taika Waititi, and another two went by before the universe-traversing tale finally hit theaters. Portman's Jane Foster was MIA from the MCU during this time, only being mentioned in passing during a scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron. At no point during Ragnarok's production was the actress seemingly set to reprise her role, and Marvel president Kevin Feige confirmed that she wouldn't be returning in May of last year. When asked about Jane's future a few months later, Portman didn't seem too broken up by the idea that her MCU days were over.
Now that Ragnarok has finally landed in theaters, we can safely confirm that the decision to wipe the character slate clean with the Thor franchise (ditching the Warrior's Three, disregarding Jane, Darcy, and Dr. Selvig entirely) has resulted in what is far and away the best entry in the series. Perhaps the best new addition of all, in fact, is the film's new female lead Valkyrie, played by the outstandingly gifted Tessa Thompson. The booze-swilling, sword-swinging Asgardian is already a fan favorite, thanks in no small part to the fact that she's already received more characterization and depth than Jane Foster was ever granted.
It's not a coincidence that the best Thor flick to date features its most compelling leading lady yet. That said, some folks might not be thrilled with the unceremonious nature of Thor and Jane's offscreen break-up, which amounted to little more than a throwaway exchange between the Thunder God and his brother Loki during Ragnarok's first act. Meanwhile, Kevin Feige's comments on the matter -- "We wanted Thor to encounter somebody that was near his equal" -- feels like an unfair knock on the world's leading astrophysicist. Would Ragnarok's story have suffered if the writers were obligated to force the series' human characters into the proceedings? Sure, but the fact that this is the second time the MCU has broken up a couple offscreen (see: Tony Stark and Pepper Potts) presents more than a few questions regarding how disposable female characters are in Marvel's eyes.
From all indications, Jane Foster does not have a role to play in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Any chances of Jane getting a crack at taking on the Thor mantle for herself (as she's recently done in the comics) likely flew the coop when Portman did. Feige has nonetheless left the door open for a female Thor making her way onto the big screen at some point, and hey, they've even introduced a perfect candidate for the gig in Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie! But considering that it will have taken over a decade for the MCU to put out a female-led movie by the time Captain Marvel hits theaters in 2019...we wouldn't hold our breath.