Thor's back -- and so is Natalie Portman.
As part of its San Diego Comic-Con panel on Saturday night, Marvel officially announced that Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and director Taika Waititi will reunite for a fourth Thor film following their blockbuster collaboration on Thor: Ragnarok. The new film will be titled Thor: Love and Thunder and arrive in theaters on Nov. 5, 2021.
But in a shocking twist, Thor: Love and Thunder will also star Portman as female Thor, marking Portman's official return to the Thor franchise after her appearances as Jane Foster in the initial films. Foster was left out of subsequent adventures, though she did appear briefly in Avengers: Endgame when the action time-traveled back to events depicted in Thor: The Dark World. (Portman didn't film new scenes for Endgame, but did provide some fresh voiceover.) Back in 2016, Portman said she was done with Marvel, though did allow for the chance that a reunion could happen someday. "I mean, I don't know if maybe one day they'll ask for an Avengers 7, or whatever," she told the Wall Street Journal.
While in that same interview Portman said the Thor films were "a great thing to be a part of," it was widely reported in 2011 that the Oscar-winning actress had clashed with Marvel over the studio's decision to fire Patty Jenkins off Thor: The Dark World and replace her with Alan Taylor. (Jenkins went on, years later, to direct Wonder Woman for Marvel's rival, DC Comics.)
In Jason Aaron's rebooted Thor comic book series that started in 2014, Thor becomes unworthy and unable to pick up Mjölnir. As a result, a female Goddess of Thunder -- later revealed to be Foster -- takes his place.
During Saturday's Comic-Con panel, Portman came out on stage holding a replica of Mjölnir and joked, "I've always had a little hammer envy."
Released in 2017, Thor: Ragnarok rejuvenated the Norse god following two subpar solo outings, Thor and the aforementioned Thor: The Dark World. Led by Waititi's subversive sense of humor, the third Thor standalone film allowed Hemsworth to flex his burgeoning comedy muscles, deepened the character's relationships with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and added Thompson's Valkryie to the mix. In addition to being a creative win, Ragnarok was also a box office hit, grossing $850 million worldwide, roughly $200 million more than the previous franchise high-water mark, Thor: The Dark World.
Ragnarok also set Thor up for his final Avengers arc, which culminated with an overweight God of Thunder coming to terms with the immense loss he's experienced over the course of the franchise. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor is left broken and headed out into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. His colleague in arms, Valkryie, is left in charge of the Earth-set New Asgard. It's unclear if the Guardians will factor into this new film; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in development and was not announced as part of the Marvel Phase 4 slate.
As for what else fans can expect in Thor: Love and Thunder, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed on Saturday that Valkryie's sexuality will play a role. "The answer is yes," Feige told io9 when asked if an LGBTQ storyline will focus on Valkryie. "How that impacts the story remains to be seen with that level of representation you'll see across our films, not in just Thor 4." Valkyrie is the first prominent LGBTQ character in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film.
While Marvel is great at keeping its secrets, news that Thor 4 was happening with Waititi broke late this week when Hollywood trades revealed the director had signed on to the project. Waititi will also write the script.
Check out the Thor: Love and Thunder logo below.
Thor: Love and Thunder is currently set to close out Marvel's Phase 4. The film will be released on Nov. 6, 2021.