Here’s Why Natalie Portman Wasn’t in Thor: Ragnarok

Jane Foster has been absent from the MCU since the second Thor film. Here’s why the character did not return for Thor: Ragnarok.

Marvel Studios

After 2013’s Thor: The Dark World became one of the lowest-rated movies in the MCU, director Taika Waititi was brought on to course-correct the film franchise. Waititi’s first Marvel Studios movie, Thor: Ragnarok, quickly became one of the most beloved films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But Thor: Ragnarok was also the first Thor film where Natalie Portman‘s Jane Foster was not present. Foster was a major MCU character as a brilliant scientist and the love interest of Thor.

Portman has not appeared in a Marvel Studios film for nearly ten years. Her character, Jane Foster, never made an appearance in the Avengers films (with the exception of archive footage used in Avengers: Endgame). For such a prominent character to be dropped caused great confusion among Marvel fans. Thankfully, Portman will be returning as Jane Foster and reintroduced as the “Mighty Thor” in Thor: Love and Thunder. Of course, the question is: why wasn’t Natalie Portman in Thor: Ragnarok? Let’s find out.


Related: Thor: Love & Thunder Promo Art Reveals Thor and The Mighty Thor

Why Did Natalie Portman Not Want to Be in Thor: Ragnarok?

Where Does Thor: Ragnarok Take Place in the MCU Timeline?

For the first time in the Thor movies, Thor: Ragnarok was not set on Earth. Its story was set on Asgard and the garbage planet of Sakaar. In contrast, the first two Thor films, while featuring Asgard, spent most of their time on Earth. Characters like Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis (who later appeared in WandaVision) balanced the hard fantasy elements by still tethering the movies to Earth. Jane Foster was not Asgardian, she was a human that lived on Earth and had no superpowers.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Entertainment Weekly that they wanted to pit Thor “against a character who was much more his equal and in many ways his superior.” Tessa Thompson was then cast as the new woman lead in Valkyrie. Like Thor, Hela, and Heimdall, Valkyrie was an Asgardian that was many times more powerful than a human being. The story Marvel Studios and Taika Waititi wanted to tell with Thor: Ragnarok did not call for Natalie Portman’s character to return. In an interview with ETPortman shared some thoughts on her absence;

Obviously, I was not written into [Thor: Ragnarok] because of where it took place. It was not really on Earth, and my character is on Earth.

However, The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Portman had felt unhappy with Marvel for years. According to their sources, Portman was excited to work with director Patty Jenkins for Thor: The Dark World. Jenkins was officially announced as director before apparently being removed from the project. The film would have made history as the first superhero tent pole to be directed by a woman. History was made with Wonder Woman (2017) instead, which had Jenkins at the helm. Marvel’s firing greatly disappointed Portman, who only starred in Thor: The Dark World due to her contractual obligations. It is possible that after this incident, Natalie Portman had no interest in returning for another Thor movie. Her absence was explained in-universe with a mention in Thor: Ragnarok that Jane ended her relationship with Thor. At that point in time, Marvel Studios likely did not have plans to work with Natalie Portman on a future Thor movie.

Related: Thor: Love & Thunder Merch Reveals New Look at Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher

Why Did Natalie Portman Return to the Thor Franchise?

Thor: Love and Thunder Script Isn't Finished, Director Debunks Recent Reports

Jane Foster has unfortunately proved not to be a popular pick when fans think of their favorite MCU characters. She has only appeared in two Thor films, neither of which were well-received compared to the other films from Marvel Studios. Foster has mostly been remembered as Thor’s ex-girlfriend, when Natalie Portman wanted to do so much more in the role. Thor: Love and Thunder has given the actress and her character a chance to shine. The character now even has “mighty” in her name; she has become the “Mighty Thor.”

Director Taika Waititi approached Natalie Portman about returning to the franchise. Jane Foster’s role in Love and Thunder won her over. At the D23 Expo, Waititi was asked by Variety why Portman decided to return. He answered;

I just said to her “Are you interested in coming back to this thing, but doing something really different?” No one wants to keep repeating themselves, and no one wants to play the same characters all the time. And I think for her, just coming back, reprising that character in a whole fresh new way was really what would interest anyone. Especially in most of these films, if you’re not a superhero … do you really wanna keep doing that? I mean, I would not. I’d want to come back and change things up.

In the Marvel Comics storyline from writer Jason Aaron, Jane Foster fought cancer while taking on the mantle of Thor and wielding Mjölnir. Thor: Love and Thunder has been said to be heavily inspired by the comics run. However, changes will need to be made for the big screen as Mjölnir has been destroyed. Mjölnir from an alternate timeline was used by Thor and Captain America in Avengers: Endgame, but was returned where it was taken from. Certainly, the comics storyline made Jane Foster a much more character than mostly being known as a superhero’s love interest. The chance to become a superhero herself, work with a talented director like Waititi, and explore a great storyline managed to convince Portman to return after nearly a decade away from the MCU.

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