Thor: Love and Thunder immediately became one of the most talked-about superhero films following its announcement, thanks in part to the announcement Natalie Portman would play Jane Foster's Mighty Thor. This choice adapts Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman's controversial choice from 2014, which saw Foster picking up Mjolnir following Odinson becoming unworthy as a result of the events of "Original Sin."
The choice angered a lot of people at the time, and the announcement regarding the movie seems to be doing the same. However, those still angry about Jane Foster becoming Thor need to calm down.
The Replacement Fear
Jane Foster becoming Thor -- not "Lady Thor" or "female Thor," just Thor -- coincided with several other iconic characters being "replaced." Carol Danvers took the mantle of Captain Marvel, Miles Morales became the Ultimate Spider-Man, Kamala Khan became Ms. Marvel, Sam Wilson became Captain America and Riri Williams became Ironheart, an Iron Man-like character that proved just as controversial as Foster's Thor.
This was all part of Marvel's plan to add diversity to its roster of heroes, which, in turn, was in response to a developing social movement requesting more representation of different people in genre media.
If Jane Foster is Thor, Then Who is Odinson?
In fairness, not all fan complaints about these new versions of old characters were bad ones. The biggest argument was that Marvel, in order to appeal to the outspoken diverse fandom, was taking away rather than adding to Marvel's history.
The problem with this fear is that Thor Odinson was still around while Jane Foster's Thor did her super-heroics. The story of Foster's Thor is two-fold, with the original Thor coming to terms with his own crushing self-doubt and recovering from a great fall, while Foster finds power in a state of powerlessness.
Jane Foster, at this point, had terminal cancer. Only when she transformed into Thor did she become mighty and strong. But when she'd "deactivate" her power, so to speak, she'd return to her sickly, dying form. Eventually, Foster used up all her strength in one final sacrifice, dying as Thor Odinson became worthy of his power once more.
Unlike Steve Rogers who handed his shield to Falcon, or Ultimate Peter Parker, who died, Odinson was still an active participant in Jane Foster's story, with some of their back-and-forth dialogues showing how far Thor had fallen and how high Foster had risen.
This Wasn't the First Time Thor Was Replaced
This wasn't even the first time someone replaced Odinson as Thor. There have been several individuals over the years who possessed the powers of the God of Thunder. While many people remember when Beta-Ray Bill picked up the hammer, there is also Eric Masterson, who became the hero Thunderstrike in the 90s after picking up Thor's hammer. Captain America also proves himself capable of wielding Mjolnir. There was also Frog Thor. Remember Frog Thor?
Aaron and Dauterman's run wasn't even the first time Jane Foster received the powers of Thor. In What-If? #10, published in 1977, Jane Foster possesses the power of Thor, becoming Thordis. This story came out decades before the controversial issue -- even before Beta-Ray Bill.
The Story Worked
A lot of Marvel's diverse heroes have done well for themselves. Miles Morales and Kamala Khan both found success on their own terms, while Carol Danvers, for many, is the only Captain Marvel people talk about, having just featured in two movies that grossed more than $1 billion. People liked Sam Wilson, though Steve did eventually return for his mantle. Riri Williams has also found success as Ironheart.
Jane Foster as Thor was a resounding success.
Foster's story is an arc with a beginning, middle, and end. It didn't get cut short. It didn't get cancelled. It led to an emotional payoff that had been set-up since its beginning. It's arguably one of the best Thor stories in recent memory.
Not to mention, ultimately, fans of Thor Odinson and Jane Foster got their happy endings. Foster is now Valkyrie, Thor Odinson is the God of Thunder once more. This story just led to both characters growing and evolving. So why, knowing how the story ends, would anyone be upset?
A lot of people angry about Jane Foster as Thor might not have read the comics. They heard someone else reacting to the first issue, got angry and made sweeping generalizations afterwards. This is, of course, assuming they even did that, and didn't just get angry about the story's concept.
Just as there was a developing movement for diversity in genre fiction, there is an opposing (smaller) movement opposing diversity in genre fiction throughout the alt-right web. Due to social media's polarizing nature, the conflict between these two factions has grown increasingly aggressive. For them, Jane Foster as Thor doesn't make them angry for who she is, but for what she represents: diversity and the death of the myth women need men to provide for and support them.
The Captain Marvel film is a clear example of this in action. A vocal minority of fans hated the movie before it came out for its portrayal of women, for starring outspoken feminist Brie Larson and for supposedly being proof Marvel prioritized the opinions of liberal fans over "the real fans." But ultimately, this had nothing to do with the movie's content or appeal, since the film made a ton of money. At the end of the day, those complaints were mired in sexist ideas and attitudes.
The Mighty Thor is just the newest character being propped up by these groups as an erroneous example of "SJWs ruining media."
You Need to Calm Down
Do you not want to see Thor replaced? If so, you have no reason to be worried. Thor Odinson is still Thor. Jane Foster is just another Thor.
Do you fear the movie will be too obsessed encouraging diversity than telling a good story? Well, the story Thor: Love and Thunder is based on is a pretty solid story, so that shouldn't be a concern.
At the end of the day, there's no reason to be worried about this particular aspect of the story, especially when we know very little about the film's actual plot. It's also important to remember this is being directed by Taika Waititi, who did Thor: Ragnarok, which many consider the best movie of the series. Thor: Love and Thunder has the potential to be the MCU's next big hit, especially with such a strong foundation. Trust the guy who made Ragnarok. He's already helmed one startlingly good status-quo shift for the God of Thunder, so why not another one?
Directed by Taika Waititi, Thor: Love and Thunder starring Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Chris Hemsworth arrives in theaters November 5, 2021.