Thor: Love and Thunder‘s most intriguing storyline involves Natalie Portman‘s Dr. Jane Foster and her empowering transformation into a female version of the hammer-wielding god. How she got there is an epic tale that extends far beyond the movie itself.
Director Taika Waititi‘s film uses this metamorphosis to raise a lot of impossible questions— about faith, purpose, relationships, destinies, and death itself—and doesn’t offer many answers beyond the plaintive screams of a few space goats.
Here’s how “The Mighty Thor” started in the pages of Marvel Comics, and how the movie adapts it for the screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Be warned: There are spoilers ahead. Only proceed if you’ve seen the movie or don’t mind learning its secrets in advance.
It all started in July 2019 at San Diego Comic-Con, where Waititi and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced details of the next Thor movie. “It introduces for the first time, female Thor,” Waititi told the roaring crowd. “For us, theres only one person who could play that role. Only one! And she’s here. Let me introduce her to you now!”
Then Portman walked onstage in a shimmering Dior gown, while Waititi got down on bended knee to present her with a replica of the hammer. Her return to the franchise was a major coup—not just because it would bring a distaff version of Thor to theaters, but because Portman had not participated in the previous movie, having declared in 2016 that she was “done” with the MCU.
Obviously, the concept of playing The Mighty Thor was enticing enough to bring her back. And that version of the character has its own epic origin story.
The notion of Jane Foster as a female version of the thunder god (as opposed to the regular male Thor we already know) first appeared in August 1978 in a stand-alone “What If?” comic book from writer Donald F. Glut and artist Rick Hoberg.
In “What If?” she calls herself Thordis, and her presence unsettles the universe. Odin is incensed; Loki tries to undermine her; and she even joins Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. “I like these Avengers,” she thinks to herself. “They don’t get intimidated by my powers … especially considering I’m a woman!” By the end, her heroism has impressed Odin, who restores the hammer to his son, but transformers Jane into an immortal goddess. The biggest twist: she becomes Odin’s wife and Thor’s stepmother.
Needless to say, that’s not how it plays out in Thor: Love and Thunder. The new movie takes its inspiration from a different run of Marvel Comics from 2015-2018, penned by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Russell Dauterman and Jorge Molina.
In that series, the deity is not called “Lady Thor,” as Natalie Portman’s character points out herself in Thor: Love and Thunder. She’s just “The Mighty Thor,” and her presence again vexes the power-players of Asgard. In the comics, the original Thor (let’s call him “Thor Classic”) finds himself unworthy of wielding the Mjölnir hammer, which means it has fallen from his grasp and cannot be lifted.
There it stays, stuck on the moon, until a woman appears and picks it up—finding herself imbued with all the powers of a thunder goddess. The comics play up her identity as a mystery for several issues, but the movie is forthright about Dr. Jane Foster becoming Thor. In both, she is dying from cancer and finds herself empowered when holding the hammer, even though it leaves her more frail when she is without it.
The movie adaptation of this origin is relatively faithful, right down to the presence of space goats. But the stories are completely different. Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor Classic is perplexed about this woman taking his look, but he is even more unsettled that she has found a way to creatively weaponize his old hammer, which in Thor: Ragnarok was shattered into pieces. The Mighty Thor not only has the power to pull the implement back into its original form, but to launch the various fragments out on their own like buckshot.
Thor Classic’s jealousy over the weapon is also something mirrored in Waititi’s movie. His new axe, Stormbringer, floats about in silent judgment as he pines for the old hammer, a spoof of how one reacts when confronted with an ex who is thriving.
The movie adds a bit of internal logic by proposing an explanation for why the hammer grafts itself to Dr. Foster. In a flashback scene, set when Thor and Jane were still a couple, he speaks to the hammer—partly like one friend confiding in another, and partly like a prayer to a higher power.
He asks the hammer to always protect her, and the hammer reacts by etching this promise into itself. Years later, when a dying and desperate Foster visits a tourist attraction built around the shattered remains of Mjölnir, that promise is fulfilled.
Dark clouds swirl, thunder crashes, and the fragments reassemble into the shape of a hammer, deeming Dr. Foster worthy of carrying it. In her hand, her frail body strengthens, new armor forms around her, and her hair takes on Thor’s blond hue.
As in the comics, she is warned that this temporary cure is only worsening her disease, but she chooses to take the form of The Mighty Thor anyway to battle a more dangerous foe. In the end of both the comic book run and the movie, she ultimately passes away.
But …in the world of superheroes, no one ever stays dead. Jane Foster was resurrected on the page, and the post-credits scene of Thor: Love and Thunder reveals that she lives on in the mystical afterlife of Valhalla, where she is greeted by Idris Elba‘s all-seeing Heimdell, who died in Infinity War.
So, he’s alive too! And presumably, every Asgardian (or Asgardian adjacent, like Foster) who has died previously may likely be there, too. That could foreshadow the return of everyone from Anthony Hopkins‘ Odin, to Rene Russo‘s Frigga, and the slain Warriors Three.
Thor and Jane may have moved on from each other romantically, but their stories will likely remain entwined.
The post Thor: Love and Thunder Ending Explained — How Natalie Portman Became The Mighty Thor appeared first on Vanity Fair.Last Update: Fri, 08 Jul 22 15:39:08