The main point of anticipation for Thor: Love and Thunder ahead of its release for many was the return of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. More importantly, audiences were hyped to see the actress pick up Mjolnir and become the Mighty Thor. This chain of events was the result of a tragic storyline for the character: she had stage 4 cancer.
Marvel attempted to hide the fact that the storyline, which is integral to the character being adapted, was even in the film in the first place. Despite those efforts, marketing went and gave it away.
When the movie released, the sad news didn’t actually reach the audience until a good 15-20 minutes into the film.
Before that, the story had to first go over the death of Gorr’s daughter and Thor seeing the Guardians off. Apparently, however, the big diagnosis was at one point the first thing viewers would see when the movie started— even before the Marvel Studios logo.
Jane's Tragedy Almost Started the Movie
In an interview with Variety regarding Thor: Love and Thunder, one of the film’s writers, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, talked about her time on the project and how they bought Jane Foster’s storyline to life.
When asked if there was any specific area of the script that the writer worked on alongside director Taika Waititi, she responded that “it was just about digging into the blueprint” given by the director:
“I would say [I was focusing] all over. It was really like: There was a really amazing blueprint. Then it was just about digging into the blueprint. It was pulling back the layers and really getting into the character stuff. Jane’s story was something that I had a big hand in. That was kind of where I was the most useful, I think, to the process.”
As for Jane’s cancer storyline, Robinson revealed that “it was always there,” and they aimed to “not shy away from the ugliness of it:”
“It was always there. Obviously, it’s in the comics, and it was in Taika’s first draft. And then it was just about, you know, what does this mean? We had a lot of conversations, especially with Natalie, about, you know, we have a responsibility here. What an amazing thing to be able to show a superhero with cancer and really not shy away from the ugliness of it and the things that are hard about it, but also really being able for this character to shine. A lot of the conversations were like, ‘How do we do this justice and how do we put something on screen that’s going to mean something and resonate with cancer survivors?’”
The writer continued, noting how “in the original draft, it was actually before the Marvel [Studios logo]:"
“Yeah. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I think it’s fine: In the original draft, it was actually before the Marvel [Studios logo]. It was even earlier in Taika’s original draft. That always was a moving piece — ultimately, it did become [the origins for] Gorr, and I think it’s awesome. But [Jane’s cancer] was never going to be a gotcha moment. It was always, like, this is the story of this woman. This is her arc. And this is where it starts.”
She then shared how they navigated the real and painful topic within a more fantastical setting, saying that “[they] always tried to look for the truth and the emotion behind it, and really come from a human place:”
“I think we just always tried to look for the truth and the emotion behind it, and really come from a human place. And not a general human place — it’s a Jane human place. It’s thinking how would Jane handle this, how does Jane move through her diagnosis? Specificity, I think, is what makes the best story and something feel universal. And this was specifically Jane’s story. Because yeah, most cancer survivors don’t have a magic hammer that they can access that’s gonna make them a superhero and give them huge arms. There’s definitely a lot of really fantastical things, and then you have a scene where she just tells her boyfriend she has cancer, and she’s very nervous to do that. That’s a very human, real scene — on a boat in space.”
Thor: Love and Thunder's Tragic Opening
It seems that no matter what timeline audiences are in, the film would have opened up with some sad setup. Clearly, in this one, Gorr got the privilege—Natalie Portman had to wait for a few scenes.
The scene in question and how it laid the foundation for Jane’s struggle was well done. That, and it also seemed to fit into the movie quite nicely. Though, many have noted how they wish there was more of her journey depicted in the project.
Love and Thunder was moving at a breakneck pace and, in doing so, sacrificed a lot of time that could have gone toward Portman’s character. Though, that’ll happen when the studio is potentially putting pressure to keep the movie under a certain runtime.
While Jane may have passed away by the end of the story, it was later revealed that she was accepted into Valhalla. So, since she’s now cancer free, the former God of Thunder is set to enjoy the Asgardian promised lands—at least, for now.
Thor: Love and Thunder is now playing in theaters.