Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters later this year, and new images from Thor's third solo outing give us our first looks at what to expect. At first glance, the main takeaway is that the production design of Ragnarok will be brighter and more colorful than the previous Thor films. This can be seen from both the costume design of characters like The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and also seen throughout the set design.
One other — and much more important — detail that sticks out once you look for it is the notable absence of Mjolnir, Thor's mighty hammer. There were rumors that Thor would go without the hammer during Ragnarok, but the images seem to prove this. Thor does not hold Mjolnir in any of the images. Instead, the images show him sticking to much more conventional weapons, like swords.
While this new look is cool, and will provide what we hope to be a positive difference from his previous films, it leaves us with one question:
What Happened To Mjolnir?!
For this, we can look to the comics. Recently, Thor lost the ability to lift Mjolnir as he was no longer worthy, much like what happened in the original Thor movie. The difference is, Thor never earned Mjolnir back in the comics.
It's possible that Thor does something irreconcilable at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok and loses his hammer forever. This would mean that he would not have Mjolnir next year in Avengers: Infinity War, leaving him and the other Avengers even more vulnerable to Thanos. But if Thor does not have Mjolnir, who does? That's where Natalie Portman comes in...
Over in the comics, when Thor lost the ability to lift Mjolnir, Jane Foster (who appeared as the love interest in both Thor and Thor: The Dark World) learned that she could now wield the hammer instead. Not only did this give her the abilities of Thor, but it also cured her of cancer, which she'd been diagnosed with shortly before.
Having watched Thor wield Mjolnir in the past, and actually having lived in and studied Asgard for some time, Foster knew what she was doing when she became the new Thor. In fact, almost immediately after having lifted the hammer, she defeated Malekith the Accursed and an army of Frost Giants. It took Thor two movies to do that, but took Jane Foster only about one comic. She is currently a leading member of the Avengers in the comics.
There's Just One Problem...
Currently, Natalie Portman, who played as Jane Foster in Thor and Thor: The Dark World is confirmed to not appear in Thor: Ragnarok. In fact, the actress has not had any contact from Marvel in some time. Portman told the Wall Street Journal:
"As far as I know, I’m done. I mean, I don’t know if maybe one day they’ll ask for an Avengers 7 or whatever, I have no idea. But as far as I know, I’m done. It was a great thing to be a part of."
That update was from some time ago, however, and things change with Marvel, often without the public knowing. Flash back to a few years ago, Tom Hiddleston (Loki) said roughly the same thing. He had not heard from Marvel in some time, and wasn't even sure if he would be returning in Thor: Ragnarok. Well, sure enough, Loki did return — and Jane Foster could follow suit.
It is possible that Natalie Portman's Jane Foster could return in Avengers 4, which is currently being shot alongside Avengers: Infinity War. In Avengers 4, she may find Mjolnir, wherever Thor leaves it in Ragnarok, and learn that she can now wield the hammer.
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By introducing Jane Foster as the new Thor, Marvel could make the finale of Avengers 4 even more exciting and, best of all, prepare us for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many of Marvel's top dogs, including Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr., are not confirmed to appear after the next two Avengers films, so it is likely that plenty of new heroes will be introduced in Avengers 4 in order to keep audiences interested going forward. Jane Foster's Thor has a good chance at being one of these new heroes. With Phase 4 introducing more female superheroes, such as the legendary Captain Marvel, the timing seems perfect to see Jane Foster become worthy.
While we will likely not see Jane Foster pick up Mjolnir and put on a red Asgardian cape by the end of Thor: Ragnarok, the absence of Thor's hammer does make us think that this could be Marvel's direction. The only reason I could think of for Thor not having his hammer would be that he lost the ability to wield it, which could totally set up Jane Foster becoming the new Thor.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!