Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might be next up in the Marvel Studios slate, but it’s what’s next that has some people more excited: Thor: Love and Thunder. Starring Chris Hemsworth, the film brings back Ragnarok’s fan-favorite director Taika Waititi for another insane ride with the God of Thunder. This time around, however, the original Avenger is in for a twist: his former love, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, is set to return in a big way.
Jane was last properly seen in Thor: The Dark World, but since then, the character’s fate has been a mystery. That's all set to change when the scientist returns in Love and Thunder, even finding herself worthy of picking up Mjolnir as well.
Recent promotional material has shown her new transformation, with Portman’s Foster sporting comic-accurate attire and holding the famous hammer––this time, sporting some visual cracks. But how big of a role will she play in the film’s plot?
The movie’s villain is Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher, someone who caused some big problems for Thor in the comics. What if Jane Foster’s new persona is the key to stopping him, and not Chris Hemsworth’s former Avenger?
The Gorr Problem
First, it’s important to discuss just who Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher is. In the comics, he was born on a planet with no name and constantly lived on the brink of starvation.
Despite all of that, his culture, and those around him, always taught him to have faith and trust in the Gods. Those Gods never came. After his mother, his pregnant partner Arra, and all of his children died, Gorr lost all hope and declared that Gods did not exist.
However, one day, he came across two elder Gods fighting after crash-landing nearby. One of them begged for his help, and upon realizing that Gods did exist, Gorr became outraged by the audacity of the powerful being to ask for help when they never bothered to offer him any.
Picking up the God’s weapon, he slew the being on the spot. The grieving Gorr vowed vengeance against all Gods and traveled the cosmos for thousands of years, seeking to kill every single one that crossed his path.
The Jane Foster Equation
Given Gorr’s goals in the comics, it would be hard to see why they would change in the upcoming film. After all, Russell Crowe revealed that he will be playing Zeus in Love and Thunder, showing more Gods will be introduced, but likely to just have more things for Gorr to kill off.
Either way, this threat will pose a massive threat to Thor. The God of Thunder’s arrogance will more than likely take the front seat and cause him to underestimate Christian Bale’s force of nature—he’s going to need some help.
Enter Natalie Portman's Jane Foster. Fans know she will become the God of Thunder at some point, but how she will do that isn’t entirely known. Besides the character being seen on set at a memorial site showcasing Mjolnir’s shattered pieces, how the newly returned Marvel star will get from Point A to B is unknown.
So how will she be the key to defeating Gorr the God Butcher? Well, Marvel Studios has shown that just as much as they like to be accurate to the comics, they also want to switch things up. What if Gorr has a specific advantage against the Gods themselves?
Maybe his infamous Necrosword is specifically more advantageous against true Gods, which is what will give him that edge over the likes of Thor and Zeus. Now, when Jane does get Mjolnir, it will live up to its branding: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
Now, what if Jane's particular advantage in the proceedings plays on a technicality? She may have that same extreme power, but holding the hammer may not technically make her a God. She’ll still be a mortal human, but while under the influence of the Hammer, Jane’s power will match Thor’s—in theory at least.
This means if Marvel makes it so that Gorr is specifically stronger against Gods, this advantage wouldn’t apply to Jane. This would make her the strongest hero on the board and give her a fairly clear shot at victory; though, Bale’s villain will still undoubtedly pose a threat to Natalie Portman’s new persona.
The God Variable
Now, this isn’t to say that Chris Hemsworth’s Avenger will be useless in the film. The man is Thor, after all, and he’s as strong as he’s ever been—however, no matter how strong he might be, Gorr will more than likely have that leg-up on him.
It is also his film (though the title could refer to both Odinson and Foster), so the conflict with Gorr is likely to be a little more personal with Hemsworth’s hero than for Portman.
Portman’s Jane will likely be dealing with more internal issues. In the comics, Foster was slowly dying of cancer during her reign as the God of Thunder. It’s a crucial element of the character, so it would be odd for Marvel to nix it entirely.
There’s also Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Queen of New Asgard, who will undoubtedly play a significant role in the conflict. The actress recently went on record talking about the character’s powers, which include seeing when someone is close to death and taking people to (and from) Valhalla—all things which could be quite handy.
The actress claims she was speaking about what they are in the comics, but it could have easily been a slip-up of what to expect in the upcoming adventure.
No matter, even with how powerful Chris Hemsworth’s titular character is, there’s next to no way he’s walking away from Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher without help from Jane Foster and Valkyrie.
Thor: Love and Thunder releases in theaters around the world on July 8 later this year.