Though the upcoming Thor: Love And Thunder is set to introduce some new faces to the nine realms, including Christian Bale as Gorr The God Butcher and Russell Crowe as Zeus, there’s certainly no shortage of intrigue when it comes to the return of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. After being absent during 2017's Thor: Ragnarok, the character is coming back in a big way: with her own superpowers, wielding the enchanted hammer Mjolnir.
Jane was introduced in 2011's Thor as an ambitious scientist who ends up becoming a little more involved with the titular character than she expects when the Asgardian prince falls to Earth. Portman reprised the role in the 2013 sequel Thor: The Dark World, which is widely considered to be one of the worst in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
When Jane didn’t return for the third installment, some viewers speculated that the previous project’s negative reception had soured the Black Swan actress on the franchise. In a new interview with Variety, Portman says that she was able to easily shrug off The Dark World’s bad reviews.
“I mean, I had it with The Professional too,” she says of her 1994 film debut, released when she was a young teenager. “It was slaughtered critically, and now, despite having been in Marvel and Star Wars movies, it’s the main thing people come up to me about. That and Star Wars are two examples of things that when they came out, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is a disaster.’ And then 20 years later—actually, 30 years later for The Professional—it’s beloved.”
Of course, the Star Wars prequels, in which Portman portrayed Padmé Amidala, have also been in the news lately, with the launch of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. Despite those films’ similar poor reception, returning stars Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen have spoken warmly about stepping back into their roles and having been part of fans’ childhoods.
With writer/director Taika Waititi eager to bring back a leveled-up Jane for Love And Thunder, returning to the MCU was a no-brainer for Portman.
“I mean, it’s always amazing to see yourself, even if only for a split second, in a Marvel film, because you’re in places that you’ve never actually been before,” she says to Variety. “It’s like seeing photos from a vacation that you never took or something.”