Asgard bares good and bad news today. Let’s start off with the bad: after appearing in both Thor and Thor: The Dark World as Jane Foster, the titular superhero’s Earthbound love interest, it looks like Natalie Portman is stepping out from appearing in the third film in the series, the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. The reasoning for why the Oscar winner won’t appear in the new blockbuster is unclear at the moment, but here comes the good news. Potentially replacing her in the new film is Tessa Thompson, the exceptionally-talented young standout from Dear White People, Selma and, most recently, last fall’s phenomenal Creed.
Whom Thompson will play is also left unclear at the moment, but THR notes she has a “key role” in the new sequel, set to be released on July 28, 2017. Some are speculating Thompson will potentially play a new love interest for our dashing blonde-hair demi-god. I guess where one door closes, another one opens. Or, I guess more appropriately, where one hammer is slammed to the ground, another is ….. picked up? You get what I mean. I think.
Don’t mourn Thor and Jane’s lost love just yet, though. Stellan Skarsgard has currently not been asked to come back yet either, according to Den of Geek, and Marvel has made no secret about how Ragnarok will largely take place away from our home planet. While these characters are not expected to return, do expect some buddy-buddy time between Thor and Hulk, as the film is being called “a buddy picture” of sorts between the two mismatched Avengers. Perhaps this explains why neither are reported to be featured in next month’s Captain America: Civil War.
This bit of casting news is also particularly curious as Portman and Thompson are both soon slated to star in Annihilation, Alex Garland’s follow-up to last year’s exceptional directorial debut Ex Machina. They round out a cast that also includes Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin). Production on Garland’s sophomore film begins in a mere few weeks.
Portman is also spending her non-MCU time appearing in Jackie, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, Planetarium, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards and Terrence Malick’s Weightless. Thompson, meanwhile, can also soon be seen in War on Everyone, Salt Water and HBO’s Westworld. If we ever get to see that new show, that is.
While it’s disappointing to not see Portman work her magic, it’s evident she hasn’t been living up to her full potential here — especially in that last Thor. This is probably for the best. Additionally, Thompson is an amazing young talent and it’s great to see her in more mainstream projects. Hopefully she isn’t wasted as Portman often was in these films. We’ll have to see when Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) and also starring Chris Hemsworth (of course), Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo and Jaimie Alexander, stomps its way into theaters. There’s also no word yet on whether Kat Dennings is set to return. But don’t count on it.