Thor: Love and Thunder is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing film installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe lineup. After impressing Marvel fans with Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi will be returning once more to direct the character’s fourth solo outing. While there aren’t many details to go on about the film’s plot, there has been plenty of talk about who will show up in Love and Thunder, which already seems to imply the interesting direction it might take.
Probably the most exciting piece of information to come out of the film, though, is the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. While it is already fun to see her come back to the franchise, the circumstances in which she is returning have piqued many fans’ interest. Not only will she be reprising the role of Jane, but she will also be taking on the mantle of “The Mighty Thor,” confirming that the next Thor film will be drawing its inspiration from a popular story arc from the comics.
In this story arc, Jane Foster, who had been undergoing cancer treatment at the time, takes on the moniker of Thor. This occurs after Thor loses his ability to lift Mjolnir, thanks to something Nick Fury said to him. When this happens, the hammer telepathically communicates with Jane, whose identity is not revealed at the time, and she eventually heeds its call. upon picking up Mjolnir, she is given the “powers of Thor." When the original God of Thunder learns of this, he attempts to fight her, but after discovering that she is better at wielding Mjolnir than himself, he relinquishes his place as the God of Thunder and allows her to take up the mantle, even going so far as giving her his name.
While this might sound a little strange to anyone only familiar with the MCU’s version of Thor, it makes a bit more sense in the comics. Throughout the character’s long history, the Thor mantle and what it means to be worthy of Mjolnir have almost constantly been changing. In fact, it was originally implied that “Thor” was not only a name but a title given to the person capable of wielding Thor’s hammer in an earlier run of the series.
Donald Blake, Thor's original secret identity, was essentially given this honor in the earlier comics, but it was later retconned that Blake was actually the real Thor all along. Since then, the only definitive trait of Mjolnir seems to be that anyone capable of wielding it will possess Thor’s powers. So, in a way, Jane gaining the title of “The Mighty Thor” is the series going back to its original comic book roots.
The films, however, never really had the “name as a title” element set in place. Nor does it transform its wielder in the same way that it does in the comics. Because of this, there are a lot of questions to be had about how and why Jane would take up the mantle of "the Mighty Thor" in Love and Thunder. It could be that certain plot points from the comics will be altered and changed to fit within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This would not be surprising, as the MCU is known for taking liberties when it comes to its source material.
In fact, there is a possibility that Jane is a variant from another universe, which is a concept that has already been established thanks to the Disney+ show, Loki. If this ends up being the case, then her taking up the name “Thor” could be established in many ways. For instance, it could be the character’s way of honoring Thor’s memory after a possible tragedy in her universe.
Marvel's What If…? has already established that there are alternate timelines where Thor meets a tragic fate. As such, it wouldn't be far-fetched for Jane to become worthy of Mjolnir and take up the moniker in one of them. It could also be that Mjolnir itself is a variant and gives powers similar to the one from the comics. After all, Mjolnir was destroyed in Ragnarok, so bringing in a variant of the hammer would make sense. Whatever the reason behind Jane taking up Thor’s name, it will be interesting to see how it eventually plays out in Love and Thunder.
To see how Jane becomes the Mighty Thor, Thor: Love and Thunder releases in theaters on July 8, 2022.
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