Update: Thor: Love and Thunder first reactions are in — this could help you forget Dr Strange 2.
This week the first trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder hit the web, and with it our first glimpse at what’s going on in the God of Thunder’s fourth solo outing. But for those not versed in Marvel comics, the trailer may be a little bit confusing.
The climax of the trailer reveals that there is a second Thor in this movie, and she’s wielding Thor’s original hammer Mjolnir. A lot of you may be wondering who she is, and how she’s fighting with a hammer that appeared to be destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok. Fortunately we have answers to all those questions.
Potential spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder are ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
Who is this new Thor?
The new Thor is officially known as ‘The Mighty Thor’, a name confirmed by merchandise leaks and the movie’s writer/director Taika Waititi (opens in new tab). This is actually Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, the Nobel prize-winning astrophysicist who also happens to be Thor’s ex-girlfriend.
Correction. She's called Mighty Thor.July 21, 2019
Based on what happened in the comics, this is the same Jane that appeared in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, rather than a variant interloper from somewhere in the multiverse. You know, like the ones we’ve already seen in the likes of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Loki and (we think) Dr Strange 2.
How did Jane Foster become Thor?
“Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
Those were the words uttered by Odin when he enchanted the hammer Mjolnir in the very first Thor movie. That enchantment was also literal. While Thor himself used the hammer to harness his own godly abilities, it was also capable of giving others access to them.
We saw this in action in Avengers: Endgame. Not only was Steve Rogers able to control and wield the hammer against Thanos, he was able to summon lightning in the process. Though Rogers’ time with the hammer was limited, and he never visibly tapped into Mjolnir’s full potential.
Judging from the brief glimpse at Jane in the trailer, she’s found a way to use Mjolnir to summon armor and transform herself into a superhero. Something Thor has done several times in previous movies. That may indicate a greater affinity for the weapon, and if the comics are anything to go by we’ll see her doing a lot more than just hitting aliens with lightning.
Wasn’t Mjolnir destroyed?
Yes. Mjolnir was destroyed by Hela at the start of Thor: Ragnarok, with the goddess of death catching it in mid-flight and shattering it into hundreds of pieces. But it looks like Mjolnir has been reforged somehow.
It’s not entirely clear how it happened, or if Jane has anything to do with it, but you only need to look at Mjolnir to see what happened. The hammer has a glowing blue pattern that looks pretty similar to Kintsugi - a Japanese art that uses gold lacquer to repair broken pottery. In other words, someone clearly collected the fragments of the original Mjolnir and put them back together.
What happened in the comics?
Several years back Marvel had a big change up in the comics, with a series focusing on a brand new Thor. At this point in the comics Thor Odinson, the original, lost his ability to wield Mjolnir through a complicated series of events that could only happen in comics.
Jane Foster was able to claim the hammer for herself, transforming herself into a muscle-bound thunder goddess whenever she held it in her hands. It’s not the first time this happened in Marvel comics either. Eric Masterson was able to transform into a version of Thor, as was the alien Beta Ray Bill, with both later receiving their own enchanted Mjolnir-esque weaponry.
After discovering Jane had proven herself worthy of Mjolnir, and his power, Thor Odinson relinquished his name and bestowed it on Jane. He was going through some stuff at the time, after the loss of his hammer, and decided if he wasn’t worthy of Mjolnir he wasn’t worthy of his name either.
Thor Odinson went by the name Odinson for a few years, before realizing he didn’t need a hammer to be worthy of his name and became Thor once more. As I said, he was going through some stuff and wasn't making decisions you or I would consider logical.
However, Jane happened to have cancer at the time of her heroism, and was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, every time she transformed into Thor, Mjolnir would recognize the chemo drugs as poison and purge them from her system, preventing her treatment from having much — if any — effect. Jane also had a key weakness: if she was separated from Mjolnir for long enough, she’d transform back into her frail human self.
What does this mean for Chris Hemsworth’s Thor?
It’s not clear from a single trailer. There has already been speculation that the Thor 4 trailer may be teasing Thor’s eventual death - something that may be a real possibility when your main villain is called “The God Butcher."
It’s easy to suggest that Marvel may be using Natalie Portman as a way to replace Chris Hemsworth, should he ever tire of having to stay in such ridiculous shape all the time. After all, Phase Four of the MCU does seem to be setting up replacements for a number of key members of the MCU’s early line-up. Yelena Belova, Kate Bishop, Sam Wilson, Ironheart, She-Hulk, Kid Loki and more.
The only OG player that isn’t due to have some sort of successor is Thor. Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor would be a convenient replacement.
Chris Hemsworth claims he wants to play the character for as long as Marvel will let him, but admits he feels enthusiasm for his version of the thunder god may be waning.
That’s not to say it’s completely gone, and there’s nothing stopping there being two Thors co-existing at the same time. After all, the original Hulk and Hawkeye haven’t gone anywhere, and Loki’s still mucking around the multiverse in his own show. There’s no telling what could happen where the Thors are concerned, especially since the comics kept the two together for quite some time.
Maybe Thor will die, maybe he’ll retire, or maybe he’ll carry on adventuring around the galaxy as he’s been doing for the past several centuries. We’ll have to wait and see what Thor: Love and Thunder brings to the table.
Next: Here's what to watch before you see Thor: Love and Thunder.