Ever since it was announced that Natalie Portman was going to return to the MCU in the form of Thor, a certain section of the audience received the impression that the actress was set to replace Chris Hemsworth in the superhero franchise. In an interview with Kelly Clarkson about Thor: Love and Thunder, Natalie revealed she is going to be playing a separate character who is also called "Thor".
"She does have powers. It's not exactly the same as Thor. It's her own version of it. And, she's called The Mighty Thor."
The concept of gender-swapping an important character has been done before in the MCU. Doctor Strange's mentor The Ancient One is shown in Marvel Comics to be an elderly Chinese man, while in the movies the character is portrayed by the decidedly non-Chinese and non-elderly Tilda Swinton.
Still, while Swinton's hiring was a conscious choice to depart from comics canon, Portman's upcoming portrayal of Thor is actually directly based on a Marvel Comics series, as Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi has clarified in the past.
"There's still the other Thor - the original Thor (a role that will be reprised by Chris Hemsworth). In the comics, she's called The Mighty Thor. It comes from that comic run."
So Love and Thunder will still have Chris Hemsworth playing Thor Odinson, but he will be joined by Natalie Portman as Jane Foster as a new version of the God of Thunder. Whether Jane's Mighty Thor is Odinson's girlfriend from previous Thor movies who comes into possession of the enchanted hammer Mjolnir like in the comics or an alternate universe version of Thor, remains to be seen.
While the details regarding Love and Thunder have been kept under wraps, the cast of the movie, from Hemsworth to Portman to Tessa Thompson, repeatedly praised its script and promised viewers are in for a treat. Portman herself has described the story as "silly and funny".
"[The movie is] going to be really silly and funny, and great. We've got Taika Waititi... He's wonderful, so I'm very excited to just be with all of them."
While shooting is set to begin for the film in January, the cast of Love and Thunder have already started to congregate in Australia to begin prep work. Christian Bale was recently spotted arriving in the country, which set the Thor fandom buzzing anew with speculations over what character he is set to play in the film.
According to Thompson, Bale will be the main villain of the story, and rumors have that villain pegged as either Gorr the God Butcher, who travels the multiverse assassinating deities, or Dario Agger, a wealthy industrialist who has sold his soul to the Minotaur of legend.
Directed by Taika Waititi, Thor: Love and Thunder features Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. The film arrives in theaters on February 11, 2022.