Marvel fans were shocked when Natalie Portman found herself on stage at San Diego Comic-Con this year, and holding Thor's hammer to boot. The actress had been MIA from the MCU ever since finishing Thor: The Dark World and most of us had come to the conclusion that the actress was done with the role of Jane Foster.
However, we now know that Portman will be back in the next Thor movie, Thor: Love and Thunder, and that she'll become The Mighty Thor, as the character of Jane Foster will take up the hammer. It's been revealed that director Taika Waititi was the one who convinced the actress to come back to the franchise, but he says he didn't have to say or do anything particularly special to get her to agree. According to Waititi...
I mean, I didn’t have to do much. And, I think for her it was about making the character interesting. And I think especially when you’re playing ‘an Earthling who’s just into science’ in one of these big movies, it kind of gets a bit sort of, you know… After doing that for two movies, you want to do something different. I think for her, the thing that might’ve been attractive about this is being able to step it up and be a superhero. And I’d rather her do that than play a scientist. And it’s also from the comics as well. So it’s not something we made up.
At the end of the day, I can't imagine anybody appearing in a superhero movie and not wanting to play the superhero. Natalie Portman spent two movies playing second fiddle to Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Taika Waitit tells Uproxx that he thinks it was really just the opportunity to do something else that appealed to the actress. The fact that the something different, in this case, meant playing the hero, probably didn't hurt.
Natalie Portman herself has said she's very excited to weird Thor's hammer, though she's also downplayed her own absence from the franchise. She points out that the plot and location of Thor: Ragnarok basically meant there was no place for the character of Jane Foster to appear. Portman did not shoot any new scenes for Avengers: Endgame as several others did, though she did appear via footage from Thor: The Dark World and she did record new audio for the film.
While we now know Jane Foster and Natalie Portman will return, there are still a lot of questions as to exactly how the character will be brought back and the mantle will be passed. In the comics, Jane Foster's transformation to Thor comes as part of a storyline where she is diagnosed with cancer. Taika Waititi has shown a willingness to adapt that storyline for the new movie, but the script is reportedly far from done, so anything is possible.