When Thor: The Dark World came out in 2013, Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige revealed the film took place two year after the first Thor. I probably wasn’t alone in being more than a little put off that Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), one of the world’s leading astrophysicists, had spent the last 730 days pining over a man she knew for a long weekend. Yes, that man was Thor (Chris Hemsworth), but in a movie dealing with interdimensional dark elves, somehow Jane’s inability to move on was the most unrealistic aspect. Would she still be using Thor as fantasy material on those dark, lonely nights? Sure. But to put her dating life on hold in the hopes of one day settling down with the God of Thunder? No.
So when Natalie Portman announced last year that she’s pretty sure she’s done with the franchise, I wasn’t devastated. For one thing, Portman had other roles to prepare for. Of course, August of last year is an eternity in internet years, so many fans forgot Portman warned us she’d be MIA for Thor: Ragnarok. Now, Chris Hemsworth himself has confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that Thor is “enjoying being a drifter, being a solo cowboy out there.” Feige adds that Thor and Jane broke up.
Unless the Marvel Cinematic Universe wanted to adapt either the comic book storyline that merged Jane Foster and Sif into a single entity or the one where Odin grants Jane supernatural powers, the likelihood of Thor’s relationship with a mortal surviving was slim to none. Add to that Jane’s obsession for two years prior to Thor’s return and you have a recipe for disaster. When an object of one’s affection is an abstract concept, it’s easy to paint them in a perfect light. Crushes have no flaws, are considerate and practically perfect in every way. Real people — even gods — can’t live up to those standards.
Of course, just because Thor and Jane broke up doesn’t mean she has to disappear from the MCU for good. And even though everyone is saying Portman has made her last appearance in the role, the cover for Entertainment Weekly that debuted Thor’s new look may indicate otherwise. The cover has Thor front-and-center, shorn of his trademarked long locks and sporting both new armor and new weapons. In fact, Thor doesn’t wield his hammer, Mjölnir, in any of the photos released from Thor: Ragnarok.
So just where is Mjölnir? It could be that Thor was separated from this hammer during whatever scuffle will end with him on the arena planet where he’ll run into Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). But Mjölnir is partially sentient and I have a hard time believing it wouldn’t go looking for its owner. Then there’s a more tantalizing idea: that somehow Thor Odinson is no longer worthy to wield it. If that’s the case, there’s a distinct possibility that while Thor is playing gladiator in space or going on a brotherly road trip for unknown reasons, Jane Foster is out there, protecting the Nine Realms as the new Thor.
For those who don’t know, a mysterious female Thor first appeared in the final issue of Thor: God of Thunder back in September of 2014. The following month, the new Thor got her own comic. Over the course of the next two years, it secret was unraveled and the origin revealed as to how Jane Foster came to take up Mjölnir in the name of Asgard when Thor Odinson became unworthy.
The duality of Jane as Thor is that when not wielding phenomenal cosmic power, she is dying of breast cancer. Each time she uses the hammer, the cancer recedes, only to come back more virulent than ever once Jane reverts to her mortal form. Watching her struggle to balance her own health with protecting the universe and keeping her identity a secret from the original Thor is compelling reading. Intertwining her story with Thor Odinson’s journey of introspection and redemption makes for a great foil. Combined, they tell a story of family and sacrifice. Now that’s something I’d pay money to see. Hint, hint Phase III.