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When Natalie Portman walked on stage at the San Diego Comic-Con to announce she would be in Thor: Love and Thunder,  fans were thrilled, delighted, and, to be honest, a little puzzled. 

Sure, they were thrilled to see Portman back in the MCU and even more thrilled that she would be playing Lady Thor, essentially taking Chris Hemsworth’s place. But they also knew that Portman and Marvel Studios had not parted company entirely amicably. What changed her mind?

Some said it was money, and that may have had something to do with it. However, there’s also a less cynical reason.

Why did Natalie Portman split from Marvel in the first place?

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Portman had been with the MCU in its early days, playing Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster in the first two Thor movies. However, things turned sour in the course of making Thor: The Dark World

Patty Jenkins, who at that point was best known for directing Charlize Theron to an Oscar in Monster, was going to direct the Thor sequel. However, Marvel and Patty Jenkins had “creative differences,” and Jenkins left the project, to be replaced by Alan Taylor. Jenkins went on to direct Wonder Woman and its sequel for Warner Bros./DC. 

This did not sit well with Portman, who is well known for advocating feminist causes and had supported Jenkins. After the movie came out and was generally regarded as undistinguished, Portman seemed to distance herself from Marvel. When questioned about Marvel, she said she was done with them unless maybe they wanted her for an Avengers sequel. She seemed to be at least half-kidding. 

Then something peculiar happened. She showed up at the premiere of Avengers: Endgame. She was in that movie, but she hadn’t shot anything new. Her scenes were footage from The Dark World. Few people guessed it at the time, but Portman was dropping a big, giant hammer-sized hint.

What made Natalie Portman come back? 

Fans on Reddit kicked various theories around. One user said: “Money changed her mind, probably.” 

Details of Portman’s new contract with Marvel have not been disclosed. Money may well have been a factor, with Brie Larson commanding $5 million for Captain Marvel and Gal Gadot getting $10 million for the Wonder Woman sequel. 

However, in the same thread, someone else offered a different explanation: “Maybe the better direction of recent Marvel movies especially Thor 3 (Ragnarok) has changed her mind.”

The ‘Thor’ series got better


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While Thor: The Dark World was generally seen as one of the weaker MCU films, Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi,  reinvigorated that series. Waititi had developed a reputation as an interesting up-and-coming director, with movies such as What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ragnarok became far and away from the most financially successful movie of the series. Few people would have guessed we would have gotten only three Iron Man and Captain America movies, and now we’re getting at least four Thor movies. Yet here we are. 

In another Reddit thread, a fan said, “my money is that Taika sold her on it. I’ll admit I can’t say I would have asked for her back but I trust that he will make it a fun movie/”

That fan is correct. Marvel Studios Producer Kevin Feige said: “One of the ideas, and perhaps the biggest, was the idea of Jane. We set Natalie and Taika up and in one meeting she agreed to do it.”

We’ll see how this all pans out when Thor: Love and Thunder comes out in November 2021.