Marvel Studios revealed over the weekend at Comic-Con International that Natalie Portman will reprise her role as Jane Foster in Thor: Love and Thunder, not merely as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's foremost astronomer, but as the Mighty Thor.
That twist will undoubtedly come as a surprise to fans only familiar with the films, but Marvel Comics readers know Jane gained the power of Thor in 2014 after the thunder god loses the ability to wield Mjolnir. Although there are numerous questions surrounding the Phase Four-ending Thor: Love and Thunder, the most significant one may be how, if the enchanted hammer was destroyed by Hela in 2017's Ragnarok, does Jane Foster become the MCU's goddess of thunder?
HOW JANE BECAME THOR IN THE COMICS
The events of the 2014 storyline Original Sin left Thor Odinson unworthy to wield his Mjolnir, which was then taken by a mysterious figure later revealed to be none other than Jane Foster. The hammer had apparently sought her out telepathically after it was left on the moon, and instantly granted her the powers of Thor.
Unfortunately, Jane had been diagnosed with cancer not long before, and each transformation into Thor exacerbated the illness. That culminated in her sacrificing her life with one final transformation in Mighty Thor #706 to defend the Asgardians against a threat that Doctor Strange had warned her against. Thankfully, Thor (who had began referring to himself as "Odinson") and Odin were able to revive Jane, allowing her to undergo chemotherapy. In the recent War of the Realms: Omega #1, Jane becomes the new Valkyrie.
FALL OF THE HAMMER
Jane hasn't been seen in the MCU's "present" since 2013's Thor: The Dark World, with her absence from 2017's Ragnarok explained away by Thor as "a mutual dumping." In reality, however, Portman was reportedly "deeply upset" about Marvel's split with director Patty Jenkins early in The Dark World's pre-production. Nevertheless, the Oscar winner returned for a cameo during the "time heist" sequence of Avengers: Endgame. Aside from the breakup, mutual or otherwise, we have no idea what Jane has been up to since the events of The Dark World, or where Love and Thunder will find her.
That brings us back to the question of how Jane might become the Mighty Thor in the MCU, considering the destruction of Mjolnir. The battle in the comics that took Jane's life also destroyed Mjolnir, but a fragment of its remains was given to Odinson. The restored Thor then wielded substitute weapons, biding time while dwarves gathered more of the uru metal to restore the enchanted hammer.
The MCU could take a similar route, or forgo that completely due to Endgame, in which Thor travels through time to the events of The Dark World, then take the original Mjolnir back to the film's preseent with him. Captain America later wields the weapon in the climactic battle, and Jane could very well do the same in Love and Thunder.
In Endgame's predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War, Thor seeks out Eitri, the king of the Dwarves, to forge a replacement for Mjolnir capable of standing against Thanos. That ax is Stormbreaker, which channels Thor's lightning powers much in the way that Mjolnir did. Although Stormbreaker's comic book counterpart, like Mjolnir, also required its wielder to be worthy, it's unknown if the cinematic version has the same rules. Either way, if Captain America can wield Mjolnir, perhaps Stormbreaker could be involved with Jane's empowerment.
Or perhaps there's another magical hammer somewhere in the MCU. Who's to say Odin, or some other powerful figure, didn't hide a similar weapon, perhaps for fear of its power? That could be especially true if it has the ability to empower mortals, which would be an easy explanation for Jane's transformation.
Arriving Nov. 4, 2021, director Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson.