While everyone is getting pumped for Thor: Ragnarok, I’m already thinking ahead.
Marvel has problems. Avengers: Infinity War – the event with an 18-film buildup – is about to happen. Thanos will finally rise from his chair and actually do something. The question will then become: “now what?”
With actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans aging/mulling leaving the MCU, Marvel’s problem could be compounded by a need to recast/reinvent key positions. It is widely speculated that the Avengers after Infinity War will be different than the ones we know now.
So what about Thor? Will Chris Hemsworth want to keep doing it? Better question: will audiences want to see that film? The odds are yes, especially if Thor: Ragnarok is as fun as its first trailer portrays. Still, the best policy when it comes to making money in Hollywood is to make a good film, one with a compelling hook to lure audiences in. Nobody wants to see another Dark World where Thor just mumbles around with an uninteresting narrative.
So it’s time for Chris to hang up the hammer. Not permanently, mind you. I’m not saying they should kill him or anything. I’m just saying that it’s time for a change, one that reflects recent trends in the comic source material.
It’s time for Jane Foster to become Thor.
Marvel has a women problem. More specifically, it has a girlfriend problem. Remember Pepper Potts? She breathed fire before being written out nearly completely in favor of co-stars with super powers (although it was nice to spot her at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming). She isn’t alone. Throughout the Marvel movies, girlfriend characters have been introduced to see their roles diminish and disappear in subsequent movies. Perhaps Evangeline Lilly will break this mold – but it already doesn’t look like the Wasp is suiting up for Infinity War. Once the relationship is solidified, Marvel screenwriters seem to scratch their heads and give up. Got the girlfriend… that’s the end of her arc, right?
Wrong. It’s lazy. Worse, it severs the hero’s personal connection with the real world. Civil War succeeded because of its star power and sense of spectacle, but its real world connection felt strained. A mother confronts Tony Stark in a random hallway, Peggy Carter dies. Two scenes of real world in an over two hour movie.
What will the real world connection in Infinity War be? Will there even be time for one?
But, I digress. One way to solve this problem is to bring an honest-to-god relationship into the MCU. Jane Foster won’t be in Thor: Ragnarok… apparently they’re having problems. Seems like Natalie Portman is on the Liv Tyler fast-track to nowhere in the Marvel universe, and this is a shame because she is a strong actress. That said, can’t blame for not wanting to be “just a love interest again.”
So make her Thor. Chris Hemsworth’s character will likely suffer at least some injury in Infinity War, which could be extended into a one-film gap for some freshness. This way, Jane Foster becomes Thor to help him (4 Thor – get it?). It would also allow for a reshuffling of character dynamics. No more family connection with Loki or Odin, a potential rival/buddy cop pairing with Valkyrie, Thor would essentially become a stranger in her “home” of Asgard.
It would also offer an option of making the script deal more with astrophysical phenomena given the setting and Jane Foster’s background. Perhaps Thor won’t just hit things with her hammer to solve problems this time around.
Hollywood likes following cookie-cutter logic so here is the last reason to (temporarily) replace Thor: $813 million. That is, to date, Wonder Woman‘s gross. To give some comparison, Thor: The Dark World grossed $206 million.
The MCU needs more female characters who don’t simply exist as girlfriends, but adding more super-powered aliens is a way to lose relatability. Natalie Portman can lead a film and 4 Thor would be an excellent opportunity for her to shine. Hey, maybe they could interest Patty Jenkins – second time could be the charm.