Some days you’re reading an interview — in this case IndieWire’s talk with Patty Jenkins — when an anecdote smacks you in the face. Without warning, all the disparate pieces fall into place and sudden understanding dawns on you like enlightenment. I went in hoping to learn something about Wonder Woman and came out convinced, had Marvel seen her vision through, Patty Jenkins could’ve saved Thor: The Dark World.
From the interview:
The director’s initial plan for her “Thor 2” was a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque space opera that hinged on the separation of Thor and Jane Foster.
I’ve spoken at length in the past on how Thor: The Dark World was a disservice to Jane Foster and now it all makes sense. Having the world’s leading astrophysicist pining after a hot guy (okay a god) she met two years ago for a weekend fling feels like a vestigial remainder of Patty Jenkin’s vision. Only without her at the helm, instead The Dark World was a mish-mash of plots that resulted in one of the weakest links in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Separated star-crossed lovers is a perfect fit for Thor and Jane’s relationship. It has all the pathos of a Shakespearean drama. Here is an immortal god who falls in love with a human woman. The heartbreak comes from knowing their time together is short, she will grow old and die while he lives on. Can they even overcome inherent cultural differences and keep their relationship from cracking under the strain of impending mortality? What is the purpose of staying together when you know it will end? Is love now worth the agony later? These are the kind of questions philosophers have pondered about the human condition since time immemorial.
Allowing Thor: The Dark World to focus on this aspect would’ve also given Jane a worthy send-off. Separating her character from Thor may have given Natalie Portman more to do instead of being the vessel of the film’s McGuffin. Sure, Jane gets to punch Loki in the face, but for the majority of the film her character is either unconscious or a Sexy Lamp.
A movie centered on the improbability of Thor and Jane’s love could’ve also had another upside: closure. Instead of shunting Jane off-stage between films, Marvel could’ve explored the sad implosion of her relationship with Thor as their lives and duties pulled them in separate directions. Long-distance relationships are hard enough when you live in separate cities, much less separate dimensions. And a pragmatist like Jane may have come to the conclusion that a mortal dating a god is a recipe for an untimely demise. Sometimes love is forever; sometimes it’s just for a little while.
But the opportunity has obviously passed Marvel by. Unless, of course, they want to bring back Jane Foster as Thor. Just a suggestion.