During SDCC 2019, almost no shock was bigger in Hall H than the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. This comes as a surprise due to her public departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe after various issues were reported during the production of Thor: The Dark World. Since then, the Thor franchise has experienced somewhat of a cinematic rebirth. Taika Waititi’s direction with Thor: Ragnarok energized fans and seemingly has helped mend whatever issues remained between Portman and Marvel Studios. During the panel, it was also confirmed the story for the Thor: Love and Thunder will take inspiration from Jason Aaron’s run of The Mighty Thor (2015 – 2018). So what’s the backstory to this era of Thor? We explore that below!
Thor Becomes Unworthy
During the first arc of Jason Aaron’s run on the Thor books, he introduced the character known as Gorr: The God Butcher. This character, besides posing as a physical threat to the gods also challenged the nature of the gods. Gorr claimed the gods were vain and vengeful by nature and that the universe would be better without their presence. Gorr continued to tell Thor that gods such as him, who had the love and admiration of entire civilizations and cultures, were unworthy of that worship.
This pushed Thor to try being a better god until the events of Original Sin. Given the powers of The Watcher, Nick Fury enlightened Thor to the truth of Gorr’s words during a battle above the Moon. After hearing this, Thor found himself unworthy and thus Mjolnir dropped from his hands to the surface of the Moon. For the next few years in publications, Thor Odinson became known as just Odinson aka the Unworthy Thor.
Jane Foster Becomes Worthy
During this time, Jane Foster was dealing with the news she had an aggressive form of breast cancer. She also became a representative for Earth at the governmental body called Congress of Worlds. This was a meeting of representatives from each of the Nine Realms to solve issues diplomatically. During these meetings, she’d also receive therapy for her cancer, although nothing with magical properties per her request.
After Thor became unworthy, she began to hear calls from Mjolnir. With Heimdall’s assistance, she journeyed to the Moon and was able to pick up Mjolnir. Per the enchantment on the hammer, she gained the powers of Thor along with a new body that could handle the newfound abilities. While uncomfortable at first, Thor Odinson accepted Jane’s worthiness and gave his blessing to use the name Thor.
The Life & Death of Mighty Thor
After becoming the new Thor, Jane Foster dealt with the side effects of Thor’s magic purging chemotherapy treatments every time she transformed. Her new identity as Thor also put her at odds with Odin, Cul (Odin’s brother aka God of Fear), Malekith the Accursed, and more Marvel villains. Odin came to respect Jane as Thor as she proved herself in future battles and adventures, seeing her as an ally worthy of Valhalla instead of a “fake Thor.” She joined a new roster of the Avengers as well which included Captain America (Sam Wilson), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Nova (Sam Alexander), Iron Man (Tony Stark), Vision, and Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) against the threat of a Chitauri warlord named Warbringer and Kang the Conqueror. When this team broke up she joined another iteration of Avengers now funded by Parker Industries. Besides Thor, this roster included Captain America (Sam Wilson), Hercules, Vision, Iron Man (Victor von Doom), Wasp (Nadia Pym), and Spider-Man (Peter Parker).
However, after multiple adventures as Thor, Jane’s cancer reached stage four and she had to stop until her health improved. Unfortunately, when the being Mangog arrived she had to become Thor yet again. She sacrificed Mjolnir in order to defeat Mangog, which as a result caused her to transform back to Jane and die from her illness. While Odin and Thor Odinson were able to revive her, she no longer operated as Thor. Focusing on her chemotherapy, Jane also helped the Asgardians with Malekith’s invasion of Midgard during the War of the Realms event. She even used the Ultimate Thor/War Thor hammer to become Thor again. However, because the hammer was heavily damaged, the return of Jane as Thor was short-lived. When the War of the Realms ended she became the new Valkyrie.
What do you think of Jane Foster’s time as Thor? Check out Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor run if you haven’t had the chance, it’s very good!