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SYFY WIRE Marvel's What If?

Natalie Portman returns to the MCU to party down in Episode 7 of 'What If…?'

By Brian Silliman
What If 107 Still

Save for a brief cameo in Avengers: Endgame, we haven’t seen Jane Foster on the big screen since Thor: The Dark World. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) says that she’s not during Thor: Ragnarok because of a "mutual" dumping; they’re no longer together, so Jane (Natalie Portman) did not appear in the film. 

However, Portman is set to return as Jane in a big way when Thor: Love and Thunder hits the street, but fans of both Portman and Jane Foster don’t have to wait that long for her to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Episode 7 of Marvel’s What If…? brought her back to the action in animated form, and she helps tell the tale of what would happen if Thor Odinson was an only child. The funny side of Thor (and the softer side of Sears) continues to win out here, and Portman finally gets to join in on the fun. Sea bass. Sea basssss.

***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 7 of Marvel’s What If…?***

Written by A.C. Bradley and directed by Bryan Andrews, the episode begins with Jane and Darcy (Kat Dennings) sitting in their van as the Bifrost opens and a bridge shoots right past them into Las Vegas. Thor emerges, and he tells the citizens of Midgard to prepare… for the party prince! A party ensues on the street as Thor flips Mjolnir. 

How did this happen? The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) tells us as he, you know, watches. “More than battles won or lost, it’s relationships that truly define a hero. The people who shape them, their stories,” he says. He maintains that the bond between Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was pivotal, and that “it would change the fate of a universe.” 

“But in another universe,” he continues, "instead of raising the Jotunheim prince, Loki, as his own son, Odin returned him to his people. Without his trickster brother to keep things, let’s say, lively, Thor grew into a very different prince.”

Thor has no intention of being a boring king like his father. When Odin goes into his aptly named Odinsleep while Frigga goes traveling, Thor is left to rule Asgard in the company of Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three. As they strut through Odin’s treasure vault, we see the Infinity Gauntlet that Hela (Cate Blanchett) would knock off as a “fake” in Thor: Ragnarok

To Midgard they all go, because Thor wants to party far away from the all-seeing eyes of Heimdall. The drinks never end thanks to magic, and the Asgardians have also welcomed Skrulls, Howard the Duck (Seth Green), and the cake-loving Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) to the bash. Jane arrives and decides to talk to him, wanting to “make first contact with an alien.” Darcy’s quips fly fast and free and she calls Howard the Duck a loser. 

Crown Prince Thor is cocky, takes nothing seriously, and dismisses Jane’s seriousness. He then starts flirting with her, saying that her eyes are “like watching two stars on the edge of the galaxy.” Jane is smitten, Darcy gets nachos with Howard, Grandmaster plays DJ, and Nebula (Karen Gillan) shoots craps with Korg (Taika Waititi). An Elvis impersonator marries Darcy and Howard, and Jane and Thor get tattoos. His says “science” and hers says “magic.” 

Jane eventually wakes up hungover (wearing a “Vegas Baby” t-shirt) thanks to Agent Rumlow (Frank Grillo) pounding on the hotel room door where she and many other Asgardians crashed. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) is with him, and she’s acting director of S.H.I.E.L.D. because Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) was accidentally hurt by Korg the previous night. Jane tried to warn them of extraterrestrial activity in the past, so now Hill is taking it seriously. 

On a helicarrier hovering over Vegas, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) delivers the following line to Hill, Jane, and Darcy: “The party atmosphere seems to be spreading.” A map shows that Thor is indeed spreading his party all over the Earth. This is enough of a threat for Hill to call in the only other extra-terrestrial friend they’ve made: Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. She uses the ’90’s pager and sends out the call. 

In Paris, Loki arrives as a full Frost Giant. Thor refers to him as a “butt-ugly popsicle stick” and soon they’re both laughing, with Loki calling Thor his “brother from another mother.” They both see a shooting star and decide to wish on it. It turns out not to be a star at all, it’s Carol (played here by Alexandra Daniels) arriving to sort them out. “Hey, Whitesnake. We need to chat,” she says to Party Price Thor. 

She wants him gone, but Thor isn’t having it. Carol punches Thor, who responds by calling her a party pooper. Anyone who ever wanted to see how these two characters match up in a fight gets their wish, because they go at it, with Thor eventually knocking Carol so far out of Paris that she hits Stonehenge. Thor shows up and knocks the entire monument over like he’s in a National Lampoon movie before Carol punches him into America. Their gloriously animated battle continues (it is a thing of beauty) with them both ending up in Vegas. Everyone there joins in calling Carol a party pooper. Maria Hill doesn’t get why Fury said that Carol was the best. Someone must have peed in Maria Hill's coffee, because she finds nothing amusing here. 

Carol explains (while Darcy shoots zingers at her) that if she let her true power loose, it would seriously damage the planet. Jane gets a call from Thor, who is crushing hard. It’s mutual, but Jane is worried because a planet that party-hard Thor previously visited ended up destroyed. She obviously doesn’t want the same thing to happen here, even though Gary the baby goat survived the previous party. 

Things devolve, with Frost Giants making adjustments to Mt. Rushmore and Surtur (Clancy Brown) hitting on the Statue of Liberty. Hill and Danvers hatch a plan while Darcy has the idea to call Thor’s mom, Frigga. Jane knows enough about mythology to know that if Thor exists, then Frigga and Heimdall do too. 

With an unheard Selvig’s help, Jane manages to contact Heimdall and she gets whisked away to Asgard. She tells him what’s going on and she then tells Frigga the same, interrupted her right in the middle of enjoying a varietal Chardonnay. Thor gets tossed into Siberia by Carol, and there’s space there for her to really let loose. Hill arms nukes just in case. 

They aren’t needed, and neither is Carol’s fury, because Frigga appears and goes full Mom on Thor. The party is over, and Thor has to clean it all up. Loki isn’t gonna help clean, because she’s not his mother, after all. He zips off, and Thor tells the huge assembly of galactic denizens, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay.” He asks that they all help clean though, and now he’s the party pooper. Grandmaster and Topaz (Rachel House) leave on scooters that they both intend to keep. 

Thor then rises high in the sky and shouts to everyone still there, “My mother is coming, and she is not happy.” What does he need? He needs help cleaning up this mess! Thankfully for him, he receives the help and the house Earth is un-trashed by the time Frigga arrives. Thor pretends to have been leading a study group. Learning is magic!

Frigga is wary, but Carol helps Thor out. He visits Jane, and he doesn’t like that she called his mother on him. It wasn’t the cool thing to do, but “it was the right thing.” He asks her out, and they plan to go for a date on a planet full of unicorns. “A world restored, love blossoming,” the Watcher finishes. “As children, both human and Asgardian say, together, they lived happily ever after. Wait what?” We almost have a happy ending, but even the Watcher seems surprised when multiple Ultrons appear. One of them has all of the infinity stones.

Ending aside, this episode can be boiled down to this: Thor trashes a planet, Natalie Portman calls his mother, and Thor then has to clean it all up before Mom finds out. After several episodes of constant death, this was a gloriously silly romp. Bradley captures the tone of every character perfectly, proving to be especially good at writing the comical side of Thor and endless torrents of Darcy quippage. 

As an only child who always got away with anything and everything, I’ll say that left unchecked, I too would have made Earth my personal funhouse. I still may do that. Thor is another story though, as his relationship with Loki made him a wise hero and a leader. The multiverse needs that much more than a party-all-the-time goof. Our main Thor is plenty goofy when he wants to be, but he knows well enough to stop well before Natalie Portman has to call his Mom. If this is anything close to what we can expect from Thor: Love and Thunder, then we’re all gonna get our butts punched to all the way to Stonehenge and back.

Learning is magic, so here's to all of my fellow only children. Let's not trash the planet. "Whatcha want Natalie? To drink and fight! Whatcha need Natalie? To f*** all night!" 

New episodes of Marvel’s What If…? premiere on Disney+ every Wednesday.