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SYFY WIRE Natalie Portman

WIRE Buzz: Natalie Portman preps for Thor; Netflix taps Ghost Stories directors; more

By Matthew Jackson
Mighty Thor cover cropped

We're still more than two years away from seeing Thor: Love and Thunder on the big screen, but star Natalie Portman is already digging deep into the research she'll need to bring an entirely new aspect to her Marvel Cinematic Universe character, Jane Foster. 

For several years it seemed that Portman was completely done with the MCU after playing Foster in Thor and its sequel, Thor: The Dark World, in part thanks to the disappointment she felt when The Dark World's original director, Patty Jenkins, left the project after creative differences with Marvel Studios. In the years since, the MCU has simply glossed over Jane's absence by occasionally explaining it away, most recently in Thor: Ragnarok when a pair of Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) fans mentioned that she had broken up with him. That's why it was such a pleasant surprise when Portman appeared onstage during Marvel's Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con last month to confirm that she would be returning as Jane Foster in writer/director Taika Waititi's upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, with one key change: This time around, Jane will wield the hammer as Thor. 

While it's not yet clear how Love and Thunder will bring us this big development, the basis for Jane as Thor already exists as a key part of writer Jason Aaron's years-in-the-making Thor saga, which includes a lengthy section in which Jane takes up Mjolnir and becomes Thor after the Odinson is rendered unworthy of his hammer. Jane's introduction as Thor came in December 2014 in the fourth volume of Marvel Comics' Thor, by Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman, in which she took up Mjolnir as a then-unidentified woman later confirmed to be Jane. Foster's adventures as Thor continued through The Mighty Thor volume two, and she remained the Marvel Universe's primary Thor for more than two years in what has become a fan-favorite story. 

Though she could go the route of simply following whatever's in Waititi's script to get a sense of what Jane's like as Thor, Portman is apparently digging deeper. Aaron shared a screencap to his Twitter page this week that features an image from an Instagram story Portman posted and tagged "Werk @marvel." The image is a fanned out pile of trade paperbacks from Aaron's Mighty Thor run. 

So it looks like Portman's already bringing her Oscar-winning dedication to Jane Foster's new role in the MCU. We can't wait to see her put the armor on. 

Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters Nov. 5, 2021.

Netflix is bringing us a new horror anthology film, and they've tapped four acclaimed Indian directors to bring it to the screen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming giant is preparing Ghost Stories, a new omnibus film featuring four interlinked horror short films that will share thematic connections and reach a "hair-raising end" together. To bring Ghost Stories to life, Netflix has tapped the same four Indian filmmakers responsible for last year's acclaimed anthology film Lust Stories, which also consisted of four interlinked short segments compiled into a two-hour feature. Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, and Dibakar Banerjee will each direct a segment for Ghost Stories, which is set to begin production this month. 

Ghost Stories does not yet have a plot synopsis or a release date, but if you liked the style of Lust Stories, or if you're just looking for diverse horror content in your life, keep a lookout for more details.

A year after it was optioned by Universal Pictures, Catherynne M. Valente's acclaimed sci-fi novel Space Opera has picked up a screenwriter. Deadline reports that the studio has tapped Joe Epstein for screenwriting duties on the film, a big step in moving it closer to the big screen. 

Valente's novel, which tells the story of humanity's attempt via a washed-up glam rock group to compete in an intergalactic music competition called the Metegalactic Grand Prix, is basically Eurovision meets Rick and Morty. It was met with immediate acclaim upon publication in 2018, and is a finalist for the upcoming 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novel. In June of last year it was announced that Universal had optioned the film for producers Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) and Marc Platt (La La Land), and now it finally has a writer. 

Epstein is, at this point, best known for Health and Wellness, a spec script that made the Black List of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood back in 2017. That same year he sold a second, untitled script to Paramount and producer Darren Aronofsky, and now he's landed at Universal with this project, which has a lot of potential as a sci-fi musical spectacle. Now we just have to wait and see what the next phase of development will hold for Space Opera, provided Epstein's drafts work out.