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SYFY WIRE Thor: Love and Thunder

'Love and Thunder': Taika Waititi explains why Jane Foster is back as the MCU's Mighty Thor

Thor: Love and Thunder arrives in theaters Friday, July 8.

By Josh Weiss
Natalie Portman in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

When the Thor film franchise finally returns to the big screen two months from now in Love and Thunder, it will do so with the participation of Natalie Portman's Jane Foster. The character — who hasn't played a major role in the MCU since The Dark World almost a decade ago — will make her grand MCU return as the Mighty Thor (ripped straight out of the acclaimed comics run by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman).

It's not entirely clear what Jane's been up to since she last parted ways with the Asgardian God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth), but one thing's for certain: she hasn't been sitting around, twiddling her thumbs and waiting for the big strong man to once again sweep her off her feet.

"You don't want Natalie coming back and playing that same character who's walking around with science equipment," the film's director and co-writer Taika Waititi explained to Empire for the magazine's latest issue. "You know, while Thor's flying around, she's left on Earth, tapping her foot going, 'When's he going to be back?' That's boring. You want her to be part of the adventure. And with the character of Jane, you want a little bit more. Natalie's really funny in real life. She's kind of goofy and has got a great sense of humor, and I don't think that was exploited enough in the first films."

Marvel fans got their first look at Jane in full Mighty Thor regalia when a teaser trailer dropped online last month. Thor's stunned and slack-jawed expression at her sudden, Mjolnir-wielding arrival really says it all. "She's had a whole other life, and then love of your life comes back on the scene, and is now dressed like you," Waititi said. "It's a real mindf**** for Thor. But I can't promise anything. I think most people will assume that the love story is between Chris and Natalie. I can't promise that what people think is going to happen in this film will happen."

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

While the initial batch of footage also featured shots of the Guardians of the Galaxy and a confirmation that Thor does indeed lose his Endgame flab in time for this next cosmic adventure, it did not provide a single glimpse of the main villain — Gorr the God Butcher — played by method actor, Christian Bale. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise us in the slightest if Bale actually slayed an omnipotent being or two while preparing for this role.

Chatting with Entertainment Weekly, Waititi described the deity-murdering antagonist as "very formidable," going on to add: "I think personally, he's probably one of the best villains that's Marvel's had in their films. He's very layered."

Gorr's god-killing rampage represents a major snag in Thor's plan to give up the violent and chaotic life of a superhero. Just when he thinks he's out, the Bifrost keeps pulling him back in. Maybe not the best analogy since Asgard was destroyed at the end of Ragnarok, but you know what we mean.

"Ragnarok felt a bit like a party," Waititi said to EW. "It was quite festive. This one is still fun, and it's got moments of being over the top, but thematically, it's about something a bit deeper than the last film. It's not a serious film, and it's not a drama, but we do deal with ideas that I think a lot of humans deal with — universal themes about love and loss and our place in the world. Everyone sort of asks this question in the film: What is your purpose? What is the reason that you're a hero, and what do you do when you have these powers?"

He continued: "It's sort of like a midlife crisis film, really. That's the question we ask everyone: Are we doing the right thing, and are we doing all we can in the world? I think right now, while the world is still healing from this pandemic, it's a good question to ask. It's like, well, are we doing enough to look after each other and to look after ourselves?"

Thor: Love and Thunder arrives in theaters Friday, July 8.

If you're in the mood for more rollicking sci-fi action in the meantime, head over to Peacock to check out the science fiction film line-up, including Firestarter, Independence Day, Armageddon, Gamer, Resident Evil and more.