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Here’s Why Natalie Portman Wasn’t in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (And What Convinced Her to Rejoin the MCU)

I missed her like the deserts miss the rain.

natalie portman jane foster chris hemsworth thor dark world

Thor: Love and Thunder doesn’t come out until July, yet the released promotional images have the internet swooning. By now, you have probably seen the crazy hot pictures of Natalie Portman’s triumphant return to the MCU as Jane Foster. Her ripped arms, flying hammer, and new outfit elevate her to more than just Jane. She is now the Mighty Thor.

Natalie Portman first played Jane Foster eleven years ago in the first Thor movie. She reprised the role in 2013’s Thor: Dark World, then she dropped out of existence. In the third Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok, a woman told Thor she was sorry Jane broke up with him. He replied it was a mutual break-up. But that was all we got. So what gives?

What He Said…

At the end of Thor: Dark World, Thor remained on Earth to be with Jane because they were very much in love. I guess Asgard is a tad far to maintain a long-distance relationship. Jane is not in any of the Avengers movies, but Thor mentioned her in the Age of Ultron. It makes sense that she wasn’t in those movies; she didn’t really fit. However, when the third solo Thor movie came along, their off-screen break-up seemed strange.

Back in 2016, before the release of Ragnarok, Marvel godfather Kevin Feige told Entertainment Weekly that Jane wasn’t featured because the movie took place in space. He went on to say that Thor needed someone other than Jane.

“We wanted to pit him against a character who was much more his equal and in many ways his superior,” Feige said. Not that I don’t like Valkyrie, who they introduced as the female lead in Jane’s absence, but that argument came off a little weak. I mean, Jane is an astrophysicist who helped Thor when no one else did. How is she not at least his equal?

What She Said…

Natalie Portman kept the same line as Marvel that Jane’s absence was because of her being Earthbound. In addition, Natalie took a short break from acting to spend more time with her child, and it seemed her break with Marvel was most likely permanent (as there were behind-the-scenes reports that alleged some bad feelings with the studio).

Reports stated Marvel hired Patty Jenkins to direct a movie before Ragnarok. Natalie supported the choice of a female director, but creative differences brought the project to an end before it got off the ground. I understand why Natalie didn’t come back after Dark World. The movie wasn’t good and Marvel didn’t seem to know what to do with the character or the talented actress who played her.

How Natalie got her Thunder Back

Thor: Ragnarok redefined Thor’s character and is just a fun movie. Director Taika Waititi did a great job (as usual), so Marvel brought him back for the fourth Thor installment. This time around, Taika is not only directing, but he also co-wrote the script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. Luckily, he set his sights on getting Natalie Portman back into the superhero fold.

During a recent interview with Empire, Taika said he wanted to give Natalie a larger role.

“You don’t want Natalie coming back and playing that same character who’s walking around with science equipment. You know, while Thor’s flying around, she’s left on Earth, tapping her foot going, ‘When’s he going to be back?’ That’s boring. You want her to be part of the adventure.”

Exactly! Having Taika on board convinced Natalie to return to the franchise as he has a way of thinking outside the box in his work. Natalie said when Marvel approached her with the Mighty Thor story, it actually made her excited about the role again.

Since Taika sweet-talked Natalie into returning to the MCU, maybe he can work his magic with Marvel, too. Personally, I am crossing my fingers for a Valkyrie/Jane Foster romance. It probably won’t happen, but a girl can dream. No matter what, it is very exciting to see Natalie back (and kicking butt) as Jane.

(feature image: Marvel)

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D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a freelance pop culture writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.