It should be common knowledge for fans that Natalie Portman didn't appreciate how Jane Foster was utilized in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before her early departure. Not only was Thor: The Dark World perceived as one of the worst movies in the MCU, but it supposedly caused a breakup between the actress and Marvel that would never recover.
It didn't help that a director she longed to work with, Patty Jenkins, was replaced before production began on The Dark World, which further cemented this rift. So, it was a surprise for many to see Portman on the stage of the Marvel Studios panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, announced to be returning as Jane Foster.
However, in a new interview, it seemed that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige revealed he never had doubts about her return—at no point believing Portman was ever out of reach.
Portman Not Too Far Gone
In an interview with Empire Magazine, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was asked how the studio and Natalie Portman had parted ways in a way that seemed irrevocable. Feige revealed the split "didn't feel that way to [him]," and, "It was [his] impression that if it was an interesting role, she would be game."
Portman herself repeated from past interviews that, "[she's] now in the business of impressing [her] kids" and that she doesn't know if she can "surpass this."
When director Taika Waititi began writing Thor: Love and Thunder, he didn't have the intention of including Jane Foster or a female Thor, but as he was writing, he thought, "Wouldn't it be cool and very unexpected to bring Jane back into the storyline?" So Waititi took a trip to Portman's home and pitched his idea to her.
Portman wasn't too surprised, saying, "It wasn't completely shocking that there was an idea" to bring her back. However, what "fully" excited her was "that she becomes The Mighty Thor:"
“It wasn’t completely shocking that there was an idea. But it was fully exciting that she becomes The Mighty Thor. It felt like something new in the way of making this type of movie, and what exactly I was going to get to do.”
But, instead of Love And Thunder being driven by the identity of the new Thor's identity, like the comic, it'd instead be about how and why Jane has suddenly become The Mighty Thor. Feige teased that "it's quite accurate to many aspects of the comic," before sharing his belief that only someone like Waititi is capable of navigating "the comedic and the tragic so close together" when it comes to the kind of turn the movie employees:
“One of my favourite parts of the movie is the turn that Taika does, between fun rock and roll and what Jane is doing. It’s the kind of turn that only Taika can do, to navigate the comedic and the tragic so close together.”
Encouraging Future or One Time Return?
The easy answer to how and why Portman returned to the role may have been money, but it certainly helps that she was given a chance to become a superhero too. And as Portman said, it helps that becoming a superhero and not just a civilian love interest would impress her kids.
Feige's speaking about his confidence in Waititi being able to marry comedy and tragedy together in Love and Thunder is encouraging, especially since the Thor: Ragnarok sequel will seemingly follow the comics' origin of The Mighty Thor, in which Jane Foster has cancer.
Fans will have to find out whether Waititi's vision works or not when they see Thor: Love and Thunder in theaters this week.