Natalie Portman Returns to the MCU in “Thor: Love and Thunder”

If you asked the most seasoned MCU fanboy about wasted potential, you’d get a few people on the list: Christopher Eccleston as Malekith or James Spader as Ultron. Natalie Portman as Jane Foster surely comes to mind as well, if you remember. 

There’s some speculation as to why Natalie Portman was notably absent since her appearance in 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World.” Natalie Portman seems notably checked out, which many have speculated was due to the change in director. Patty Jenkins was originally set to direct the film but was replaced with Alan Taylor after creative differences. Portman’s altered role and friendship with Jenkins made it seem like she was done as Thor’s love interest. 

She didn’t appear in the 2017 sequel “Thor: Ragnarok” and she only had a brief cameo in “Avengers: Endgame,” where the directors, Joe and Alex Russo, used deleted footage and new voice lines to briefly include her. 

Although her departure was a big deal, the Oscar-winning actress had no shortage of work. It was unlike the case with the “Star Wars” prequels, which Natalie Portman states affected her ability to get roles. After taking a hiatus from MCU, she starred in 11 films and a couple of shorts. So what made her come back?

It could be a new direction. Taika Waititi’s treatment of Ragnarok reinvigorated the series that had some of the weakest MCU installments. The tone was silly, the colors were vibrant, and the movie was fun. With Watiti directing Love and Thunder, Natalie Portman could have seen potential in her return.

There is also potential in the character itself. Jane Foster’s movie counterpart changes her original role as nurse-turned-doctor to astrophysicist but again, mostly serves as a love interest. However, Foster sees some character growth starting in 2014’s “Original Sin” storyline. After Thor is deemed unworthy, he loses the ability to wield his hammer Mjolnir. It wasn’t long before she picked up the hammer and becomes the Mighty Thor.

Since then, Foster has become an Avenger and fought alongside Thor Odinson in the comics. The new movie will tackle some of her storylines and expanded roles, which might have been enough for Natalie Portman. As it’s the next feature-length Marvel film, fans are eager to see Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in the first four-movie series in the MCU. 

Alongside her return, everyone is rightfully excited to see Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher. But have you seen the 20-inch pythons that grew on Natalie Portman’s arms? Sporting the cracked remains of Mjolnir, no less. She was able to do so after four months of training with a professional trainer and a bulky vegan diet. 

All signs are pointing to a great installment in the Thor franchise and a great performance from Natalie Portman. It’s not yet known if Portman is signed on for this installment alone, but there are more Jane Foster adventures to be had as she becomes a Valkryie in the comics (one played by Tessa Thompson). For non-MCU properties, Natalie Portman is announced to be working on future three projects. 

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