Marvel dropped a number of mind-blowing bombshells during their Hall H presentation at San Diego Comic-Con. One especially surprising revelation for long-time Marvel Cinematic Universe fans was the return of Natalie Portman for Thor: Love and Thunder. Not only is the Academy Award winner back as Jane Foster, she’ll be raising the hammer herself as the Goddess of Thunder.
Portman reprising the role of Foster at all is something of a shock. Though repurposed footage from the first two Thor films brought her into Avengers: Endgame, this will be her first time playing the part since 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. Rumors swirled back in 2011 that the actress clashed with Marvel when they decided to part ways with original Thor 2 director Patty Jenkins. InThor: Ragnarok, Foster’s breakup with Thor was explained away in a one-sentence moment. Now, though, she’ll be returning to the world of Asgardians in a major way.
Director Taika Waititi told the SDCC crowd that the fourth Thor (the first sub-Avengers franchise to reach tetralogy status) would be adapting comic writer Jason Aaron’s acclaimed 2014 Thor storyline Goddess of Thunder. The run saw a cancer-ridden Foster picking up Mjolnir after Thor finds himself unworthy and abandons his name. Foster wielded the power of Thor for four years of subsequent storylines, only recently relinquishing the mantle.
Of course, in the MCU, there is no Mjolnir after Hela crushed it in Ragnarok. That means Waititi will likely have to come up with a new way for Portman to become a god.
In another major piece of character news, Tessa Thompson confirmed that her Valkyrie is indeed LGBTQ. She said the warrior would be stepping up as the new ruler of Asgard, adding, “As new king, she needs to find her queen.”
Marvel execs have been open about their desire to introduce a LGBTQ hero for some time. In fact, though it wasn’t evident on screen, Thompson has always held that her character was queer. Rumors have swirled that one of the lead characters in Eternals would be gay. With that film opening more than a year ahead of Love and Thunder, there’s still the chance that film leads the charge of representation.
Speaking after the panel, Kevin Feige was asked directly if Valkyrie would have an LGBTQ storyline. “The answer is yes,” he told io9. “How that impacts the story remains to be seen with the level of representation you’ll see across our films, not in just Thor 4.”
While the MCU has introduced LGBTQ characters on the television side of things (hello, Jessica Jones), the movie representation has been lacking. A scene identifying Valkyrie as bi-sexual was apparently cut from Ragnarok. In Endgame, co-director Joe Russo plays a grieving man who reveals himself to be gay while discussing a recent date. Though Feige stated that the “matter of fact” character was “never meant to be looked at as our first hero,” some thought it was an unsatisfying attempt at inclusion.
Thor: Love and Thunder is looking to change that in a big way, both with an openly queer hero and a female Thor. The film is set to hit theaters on November 5th, 2021.
— Ryan Gajewski (@_RyanGajewski) July 21, 2019
Consider me thunderously excited. The Jane Foster Thor storyline I did with @rdauterman, (Eisner winner!) @COLORnMATT & so many more talented artists is one of my proudest moments in comics. I can't wait to see @TaikaWaititi & Natalie Portman bring the Goddess of Thunder to life. pic.twitter.com/3pylwsfR9e
— Jason Aaron (@jasonaaron) July 21, 2019