Before Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi was likely not the first choice anyone would have come up with for a superhero movie director, but he wound up being the last and best choice for Thor. While Ragnarok reinvigorated the franchise, it left something significant behind — a huge chunk of the previous films’ supporting cast (not to mention it killed off a huge chunk of what remained). For a while, it was an unofficial but accepted truth that Natalie Portman would never be in another Marvel flick, but now Waititi is dishing on exactly what he said to the Oscar-winning actress that convinced her give Marvel another go.
Speaking to Variety, Taika Waititi said he didn’t woo Natalie Portman to the cast of Thor: Love and Thunder with promises of more money or a better contract, but with something he said every actor wants — something different. “I just said to her ‘Are you interested in coming back to this thing, but doing something really different?'” Waititi recalled. “No one wants to keep repeating themselves, and no one wants to play the same characters all the time… Especially in most of these films, if you’re not a superhero… do you really wanna keep doing that? I mean, I wouldn’t. I’d want to come back and change things up.” You can see the video below.
If the reports from 2011 are to be believed, the Waititi must be more right than perhaps anyone knows. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Natalie Portman wanted nothing to do with Thor: The Dark World once Patty Jenkins — who would go on to helm the DCEU’s Wonder Woman films — was fired and replaced with Alan Taylor. Portman had reportedly fiercely backed Jenkins’ initial Marvel hiring. Once Jenkins was dismissed, the scuttlebutt was that Portman only continued with the film because of contractual obligations. This, many speculated, was the chief reason for her absence from Ragnarok.
When Waititi says Natalie Portman will be doing something different this time around, he isn’t kidding. For a five-year period in Marvel Comics, Jane Foster — Portman’s MCU character — became the Mighty Thor. During the 2014 line-wide event Original Sin, the OG Thor — who, during the period of Foster’s time as Mighty Thor, becomes known simply as “The Odinson” — lost his worthiness to wield Mjolnir. Foster proves worthy to wield it, however it comes with a terrible cost. In her human form, Foster is battling an aggressive cancer, and she soon learns that every single time she becomes the Mighty Thor, her condition is made worse. While we know Portman will become the Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder, it hasn’t been confirmed her cancer diagnosis storyline will likewise be adapted.
There had been speculation for a while that with all the MCU Multiverse shenanigans going on in Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and more, that the Natalie Portman version of Thor would, in fact, be a variant from another universe. Fans thought this might be the case since Mjolnir was destroyed by Hela (Cate Blanchett) in Ragnarok. However, recent merchandise photos for Thor: Love and Thunder action figures show Jane Foster holding a reassembled Mjolnir.