Of all the surprises that Marvel Studios dropped on fans at San Diego Comic-Con last month, it's possible the biggest one was the return of Natalie Portman to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actress who played Jane Foster in the first two Thor films was believed to be done with the MCU, but not only will she be back, she'll be back as The Mighty Thor.
Natalie Portman will return in Thor: Love and Thunder, which will be directed by Taika Waititi. While at the D23 Expo, Waititi was asked why Portman made the decision to return. He told Variety it was because she was being offered the chance to do something very different, rather than simply play the same role for the third time. According to Waititi...
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 wouldn’t. I’d want to come back and change things up.
When asked, you'll hear many actors talk about being interested in a particular role because it was different than what they had done before. Nobody likes doing the exact same thing over and over again. We all like variety to one degree or another. Taika Waititi says that he pitched the idea to Portman of coming back to the Thor franchise by focusing on the fact that she would be doing something new, and it seems to have worked.
Of course, the hammer might have also helped. Waititi points out that the people who get to play the superheroes are clearly the people having the most fun and doing the most interesting stuff in Marvel movies. The other roles are certainly important, but they are naturally limited because the focus will always be on the hero. As it happens, the "something really different" for Natalie Portman in Thor: Love and Thunder was taking on one of the hero roles, so that might have helped convince her to take it.
Thor: Love and Thunder will be taking some cues from Marvel Comics when Jane Foster receives the power of Thor and becomes The Mighty Thor. One assumes that this means Portman will be returning to the MCU in a major way as it seems unlikely that we'll be getting a new Thor who will only appear in one movie.
The fact that we know this is happening makes Thor: Love and Thunder that much more exciting and harder to wait for. Unfortunately, waiting is what we'll have to do. Taki Waititi says that the script hasn't even been started and the movie isn't set for release until November of 2021.