Much has been made of the quality of the fourth phase of the Marvel Universe, with some critics noting that it lacks the cohesive continuity that made the previous Infinity Saga so rewarding. But there is something that is happening more constantly: that male superheroes are outshone by female characters in their own movies.
Just a week after Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) stole the limelight in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Marvel fans got a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel Thor: Love and Thunder. But it wasn’t Chris Hemsworth as the titular God of Thunder that had people shivering. no, he was a image of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) dressed in Asgardian armor and looking frankly attractive.
‘Love and Thunder’ will mark Portman’s first performance in the MCU in almost a decade. The last time she played Jane Foster was in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World (she technically appeared in 2019’s Endgame in the form of pre-existing footage), and was lured back into the franchise by director Taika’s promise. Waititi to give his character more work. Waititi has delivered on that promise, and ‘Love and Thunder’ will adapt a plot from the comics in which Jane Foster becomes worthy to wield the hammer Mjolnir, gaining the powers of the God of Thunder and assuming the title of the Mighty Thor.
And to convincingly portray astrophysicist-turned-goddess, Portman had to get beefy. The first time he teased that he would undergo a similar superhero transformation to his MCU peers was in 2020, shortly after his involvement in the film was announced. “I have the carb loading, but not the exercise part,” Portman joked with tennis champion Serena Williams during an Instagram Live during the 2020 lockdown. “It’s going to be exciting and I’m interested to see if I can put on muscle.”
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Viewers got their first glimpse of Portman’s transformation in the closing seconds of the ‘Love and Thunder’ trailer, in which she is seen wielding Mjolnir and sporting a pair of bulging biceps. This latest promotional image also shows Tessa Thompson’s character Valkyrie, who started out as a warrior before being appointed by Thor as his successor on the throne of Asgard, looking similar.
Although plot details surrounding the film remain scant, it appears that ‘Love and Thunder’ will follow Thor’s quest to find his purpose after the events of ‘Endgame’. With Valkyrie in charge of New Asgard and Jane Foster taking care of business as the new Thor, it looks like the next chapter of the MCU is in safe hands.
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