Three years, six Disney+ shows, and five theatrical films later, Marvel fans are finally about to catch up with Thor Odinson in Marvel Studios' Thor: Love and Thunder. While it's true that promotion for Thor 4 has just begun, what the studio has revealed so far has been surprisingly revealing, particularly in terms of the current state of Chris Hemsworth's Thor and the return of Natalie Portman's Jane Foster as Mighty Thor.
For instance, in the first trailer, audiences learn that Thor is doing a bit of soul searching and possibly on the verge of retirement. The teaser ended with a first look stinger of Jane as Mighty Thor, wielding a reforged Mjolnir.
While Thor 4's newly released second trailer showed more of Hemsworth's Thor in action, the same can be said for Jane and her new powerful persona.
Due to these reveals and the fact that Love and Thunder is Hemsworth's fourth MCU solo film, fans have questioned whether Natalie Portman will be the MCU's new Thor moving forward. And, now that the second trailer has dropped, director Taika Waititi shared his thoughts on the theory.
Marvel Director Responds to Portman Replacing Hemsworth's Thor
In an interview with Total Film, Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi responded to fan speculation that Natalie Portman is replacing Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder, saying "I don't think that's the case:"
“And also, it’s really fun, the idea that Thor [has] got Stormbreaker, that big axe, and now his hammer’s back and it’s in the hands of someone else. It’s no longer his hammer. It’s the idea that someone’s taking his place. I think a lot of fans are gonna potentially assume, ‘Oh, OK, this is the passing on of the torch’... I’m not privy to any plans Marvel has for the future, but I don’t think that’s the case.”
In addition to Thor contemplating a new path for himself and Jane wielding Mjolnir, the film's second trailer did show a moment where Thor reaches for Mjnolir, only to have it rocket back into Jane's grasp.
Due to this particular choice of imagery, coupled with Disney+ passing the mantle onto new heroes like Sam Wilson and Hawkeye's Kate Bishop, audience questions surrounding Hemsworth's future as Thor Odinson are understandable.
However, Waititi's comments also support previous statements from Hemsworth who claims Thor is still too young for retirement.
Waititi also responded to questions about Thor 4's comic book inspirations, confirming that the film sticks "pretty closely to Jane's storyline" from Jason Aaron's The Mighty Thor comics and that "we're trying to take the best parts of that:"
“We stick pretty closely to Jane’s storyline, and what happened to Jane... because that was such an influence on the film. We’re trying to take the best parts of that.”
While the MCU has always leaned more into comic book adaption than imitation, it's worth noting that in Jason Aaron's storyline, Jane is diagnosed with cancer. While the hammer keeps her alive, it also accelerates her condition; and the reason she chose to pick up Mjolnir to begin with was due to Thor's absence on Earth.
Will Thor Be the Last OG Avenger?
Director Taika Waititi confirming that the film follows "pretty closely to Jane's storylines" tells audiences a lot about what Thor 4 has in store.
If Love and Thunder's Jane also picked up the hammer due to Thor's absence and to her own detriment, that means the God of Thunder's soul-searching detour had consequences, and this heroine is facing high stakes apart from Christian Bale's Gorr the God Butcher.
And, while Waititi's comments reveal that Hemsworth's Thor isn't headed out the door, it sounds like Jane did replace him in a sense on Midgard. That should make things interesting for when the film visits New Asgard, which has been present in both trailers so far.
It's worth noting that, since Thor isn't being replaced in the MCU, he's one of the last original Avengers who is still active in Marvel's Phase 4. Now that Hawkeye has seemingly passed on his mantle, Bruce Banner's Hulk is one of the only other heroes from that 2012 roster who's still active.
However, if Banner ends up handing the baton to Jennifer Walter's She-Hulk on Disney+ later this year, Hemsworth's Thor Odinson could very well be the last Avengers standing moving forward.
Just how his latest film will affect his growth and who he is in Marvel's Phase 4 story will be interesting to see; and fortunately, fans won't have to wait too much longer to find out.
Thor: Love and Thunder is set to release in theaters on July 8.