With the release of Thor: Love & Thunder just over the horizon, one of the MCU's most veteran characters is about to make her return alongside some of the franchise's newest acquisitions. Natalie Portman's Jane Foster entered the franchise in Phase 1 as Dr. Jane Foster, and her comeback is about one significant change between now and then… she's swole.
The Mighty Thor transformation has captured the attention of fans ever since the first behind-the-scenes shots were released. Likewise, the Mickey Mouse workout plan has been a success story repeatedly, but Portman's results hit differently.
Turning the charming and lovable genius into a goddess of might and muscle is beyond impressive. But Taika Waititi and his team went above and beyond to bring this Mjolnir-ization to the next level.
Creating The Mighty Thor
While talking to GamesRadar, Marvel Studios CCO Kevin Feige was asked about Natalie Portrman's transformation into The Mighty Thor, revealing the one assist Marvel Studios made for Portman's performance in Love and Thunder:
"The only thing we assisted with was making the Mighty Thor a little bit taller... That was the only movie magic we used. Everything else was all her.”
In a recent interview with Variety, Natalie Portman spoke about the lengths the production team went to ensure that Portman felt like the Mighty Thor. This included building a ramp for Portman to walk on to help her get closer to Chris Hemsworth's height now that both of their characters held the Thor mantle:
“We’d rehearse the scene, they’d see the path, and then they’d build a path that was like one foot off the ground or whatever, and I would just walk on that,”
The cast and crew had fun with this set design as they called it a "deck" on set. But due to the wide variety of accents and dialects on set of this international film, that resulted in some giggles from Tesse Thompson and friends:
“They would call it a deck, but depending on the accent, sometimes it sounded like something else. Because we’re all children.”
Portman added that it resulted in a running joke that lead to that on-screen chemistry that fans are clamoring for - a Taika Waititi special:
“It was actually one of our running jokes... Chris would have to …They’d all have to navigate my deck!”
While this physical change is the focal point of the character's return, fans should also be excited for a more evolved Jane Foster within the script. Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi recently spoke about how the character's personality has evolved along with her physique:
“Well, you don’t want Natalie coming back and playing that same character who’s walking around with science equipment. You know, while Thor’s flying around, she’s left on Earth, tapping her foot going ‘When’s he going to be back?’ That’s hoping. You want her to be part of the adventure. And with the character of Jane, you want a little bit more. Natalie’s really funny in real life. She’s kind of goofy and has got a great sense of humor, and I don’t think that was exploited enough in the first films.”
As Portman's long-awaited return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe draws near, audiences seem to be in for a completely new Jane Foster. Both in body and spirit.
The Marvelous Mickey Mouse Makeover
The legend of Marvel Studios transforming once skinny actors into real-life action figures is well documented. From Chris Evans to Kumail Nanjiani, there are many great examples of what receiving a comic book role does for one's physical appearance. Fans can expect even more of this in Phase 4 with Will Poulter's Adam Warlock, set to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
While Portman's transformation has arguably been the most popular, it shouldn't have shocked anyone. Once Taika Waititi handed Natalie Portman the hammer on the stage of SDCC 2019, fans knew they were on a path to Mighty Thor. And if any character in the MCU has trademarked massive muscle, it is Chris Hemsworth's Thor.
But Portman can only do so much to portray a mystical Goddess of Thunder like Hemsworth. So she handled her end of the bargain by gaining weight to maximize her muscle definition. In shape, she looks about as Thor as Thor can look.
But the presence of an Asgardian God is more than just bulk. Being able to loom over the residents of Midgard is something Chris Hemsworth carries well at 6'3" - Portman stands a full foot shorter.
Using high profile set design and camera tricks to increase that height and have Portman feel just as much of a giant as Hemsworth does is a choice they had to make. Having Thor and Jane fight side by side is the pinnacle of excitement for this movie, and they took every measure to make Jane Foster feel capable of holding her own alongside The God of Thunder.
The hows and whys of Jane Foster's transformation in-universe are the most central questions within the story. But behind the scenes, besides a small computer-generated lift, that muscle is all Portman.
Thor: Love and Thunder releases in theaters on July 8.