Thor: Love and Thunder represents Marvel Studios' long-awaited return to the cosmic branch of its cinematic universe. While 2019's Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame gave some spotlight to outer space, the last time the MCU properly journeyed into the vast unknown was in 2017's Thor: Ragnarok. While the MCU's connectivity is fluid, recent projects have established some static in their respective corners.
The mystical consequences of WandaVision had no real impact on the grounded events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, just as the Multiversal mayhem of Loki was not felt in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The only immediate association Phase 4 has seen was with the post credits scene of Black Widow, which led into the back half of Hawkeye.
That said, some projects have more potential for connective tissue than others.
"Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same."
Ever since Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder uttered those words in 2011's Thor, the cosmic and mystical branches of the MCU have been linked. This reached a fever pitch in Ragnarok, as the mystical branch's poster boy, Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange, assisted Thor in his search for Odin.
With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder releasing back-to-back, speculation about synergy between the two sequels has been active.
Thor: Love and Thunder's Lack of Multiverse
The concept Doctor Strange knows frighteningly little about looks to be absent from Thor: Love and Thunder.
As revealed by Disney's official synopsis, Thor: Love and Thunder will follow Chris Hemsworth's titular character on a "quest for inner peace." The conflict arises when Christian Bale's Gorr the God Butcher, a "galactic killer" seeking the "extinction of the gods," interrupts Thor's retirement.
This leads to the God of Thunder assembling a squad of Tessa Thompson's King Valkyrie, Taika Waititi's Korg, and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster to "embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure" to stop this enigmatic antagonist. Portman's Foster is described as Thor's "ex-girlfriend" who "surprises" Thor by being able to "inexplicably [wield] his magical hammer, Mjolnir."
The full synopsis can be read below:
“A new trailer and poster are now available for Marvel Studios’ 'Thor: Love and Thunder,' offering long-awaited clues to what’s in store for the God of Thunder. The film finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late. Directed by Waititi ('Thor: Ragnarok,' 'Jojo Rabbit') and produced by Kevin Feige and Brad Winderbaum, 'Thor: Love and Thunder' opens in theaters July 8, 2022.”
Jane Foster of Earth
This official synopsis indicates Natalie Portman's Jane Foster will be a continuation of the character last prominently seen in 2013's Thor: The Dark World.
Due to the drastic changes coming to Foster in Love and Thunder, it had been speculated that this Mighty Thor iteration could be a Variant. This had precedence too, considering Loki introduced fans to a female Variant of Tom Hiddleston's God of Mischief. Some speculation has gone as far as to link Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie with this Jane Foster, hypothesizing the two could share the same siblinghood that Hemsworth and Hiddleston's iterations of the characters do. If the "ex-girlfriend" description is to be believed, this is the same Jane that Hemsworth's Thor once fell in love with.
Funny enough, Jane Foster not being a Variant actually raises more questions. Based on Thor's shocked reaction in the trailer itself along with the "inexplicably" descriptor in the synopsis, Jane's ascent to mightiness comes out of left field.
Considering the character has not been seen in the current MCU timeline in over a canonical decade, there's significant empty space to fill fans in on. The hammer Jane wields is a repaired version of the Mjolnir that Cate Blanchett's Hela shattered in Ragnarok, meaning Jane's worthiness came at some point fairly recently.
Was this transformation a result of the Blip? Did one of Jane's experiments pull her into a cosmic conflict? Has she always been worthy?
All will be answered when Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on July 8.