Spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder below.
It’s nothing short of a surprise that Natalie Portman is back in the MCU. The actor who played Jane Foster in both Thor and Thor: The Dark World was seemingly done with Marvel after some behind-the-scenes shuffling on the production of that second installment. Portman famously didn’t return to film the post-credits sequence on The Dark World, and her appearance in Avengers: Endgame came out of unused footage from that same film. The possibility of Portman returning seemed to be a stretch, that is until she walked out on the San Diego Comic-Con stage in 2019 to thunderous applause as it was announced she’d be returning for a fourth Thor movie in an adaptation of Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman’s beloved The Mighty Thor series.
The basis of that Aaron/Dautermann comic book informs all of Jane’s arc in Love and Thunder. Stricken with cancer, Jane eventually comes into possession of Mjölnir, who grants her the ability to become a Thor of her own. The trade-off for these new godly powers comes at the expense of her chemo treatment; every time she powers up, she’s effectively spreading the cancer throughout her body. It’s a powerful storyline to adapt, one that becomes even more affecting when audiences see Thor (Chris Hemsworth) react to the truth of the matter.
Complex chatted with Portman prior to the film’s release for a conversation about the cancer storyline, returning to the MCU, defining her Thor’s fighting style, and much more.
Had you written off returning to the MCU, and what was it like when Taika approached you to come back for this? How did you respond to that?
Natalie Portman: I was open to everything. I think I generally always am in my life. When Taika approached me with this idea, it was kind of an easy thing to agree to because he’s just so talented and such an exciting creative person to work with. I would’ve probably said yes to anything he suggested. Then, of course, the opportunity of becoming a superhero was pretty much a no-brainer.
How much of the full arc for Jane was there in his initial pitch to you? Was the cancer [storyline] already there?
NP: He brought me the graphic novels—not graphic novels, I guess they’re comic books—the comic books of The Mighty Thor and said, “This is what we’re thinking of doing.” I read them and saw that art and was really excited by the prospect of it. And also of the idea that this character could be very powerful and also have vulnerabilities is always really intriguing. It feels much more human and much more relatable than a character that’s just kick-ass all the time.
In terms of being able to kick ass, what I like about your version of Thor is the fluidity of your movement and your aerial acrobatics. How did you all land on that? It’s such a stark contrast from what Chris’s version of Thor does.
NP: You know, I really can’t take credit for any of that. That’s Taika with the stunt choreographers, the stunt performers, and the CG artists. I’m sure the Marvel team had had input there as well. I just was there learning whatever I had to contribute to it from the stunt team. Of course, the stunt performers did most of the really hard stuff.
I’m very grateful that she has her own style, and I agree like it’s very, very cool that she has such a distinct style. Also, even with Mjölnir, that Mjölnir kind of does special things for her that it hasn’t done before. So that was lucky to give her that kind of physical fighting personality.
How many different versions of Jane’s catchphrase did you all do that didn’t even make it into the film? I imagine that’s a great place for you and Taika to just spitball and be creative.
NP: There were definitely hundreds. There was a whole string of them that didn’t end up in the film that I’m sure they have lots of outtakes for that were just kind of plagiarizing other people [laughs] that was like very enjoyable for us to play with. No one told me this, but I have a feeling like to clear things like that [laughs] it probably would’ve been a very expensive venture for the movie. Not that it stopped things like the music. [laughs]
Thor: Love and Thunder is now in theaters.