Love and Thunder don’t understand what made Mighty Thor work

Natalie Portman's Jane Foster as Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder

picture: Marvel Studios

Jane Foster stands at the gates of Valhalla after earning a warrior’s rest a sacrifice so worthy that even she, a mortal, had gained the respect of Asgard’s fallen heroes. But she waits a moment and turns away from the gates of eternal paradise. All she can say is, “I wasn’t ready to die.”

Image for article titled Thor: Love and Thunder Failed the Mighty Thor

This is the moment that reaches its climax Mighty Thor #706, the last regular issue to feature Jane Foster as the titular heroine. After defeating the vengeful beast Mangog before it could ravage all of Asgard, Jane sacrificed and eventually succumbed to Mjolnir’s cancer The treatment was removed from her body each time she transformed into Thor, still clinging to life at the very end. In the comic, with that faith and love, and her selfless sacrifice despite that love, she is rewarded by even touching the heart of Odin himself – a man she despised for taking on the role of his son, even on the lowest level of Odinson. Working together with his son and the Godstorm that once reigned in Mjolnir itself, the two Asgardians give Jane a reward even greater than eternal rest: a chance at life, a chance to face her illness and overcome it as Jane Fosterrather than the Mighty Thor.

Image for article titled Thor: Love and Thunder Failed the Mighty Thor

picture: Russell Dauterman, Matt Wilson and Joe Sabino/Marvel Comics

This is not Jane Foster nor the Mighty Thor we find in Marvel’s latest film, Thor: Love and Thunder. Of course there are similarities – both Janes have cancer, although the film never goes deep into Jane’s cancer in its superficial portrayal of their treatment, both Janes become the Mighty Thor, and of course there’s a degree of aesthetic similarity in their hero costumes. Both make the final sacrifice, and both go to Valhalla – it’s just in love and thunder, Jane stays thereand the reason why she makes the decision to die and go out with one last twist since Thor is not for the love of lifee for living so energetically despite her illness, but… well, the other love of her life, Thor Odinson.

It’s not even really a problem that Jane comes into play love and thunder is inseparable from her romantic relationship with Thor, to the point that even her cancer conspiracy feels swept aside amidst all the jokes and vibes Swings of the film – that instead of dying for all the things she loves, she mostly dies specifically for him. Okay, maybe it’s kinda isbut it’s not the problem I’ve been thinking about so much since watching the movie during it open weekend. It’s that post-credits scene in Valhalla that makes Jane shocked but happy that she found that place in paradise with Heimdall and all the other fallen Aesir. That’s… that’s just not Mighty Thor.

Image for article titled Thor: Love and Thunder Failed the Mighty Thor

picture: Marvel Studios

Jason Aaron, Russel Dauterman, Matthew Wilson and Joe Sabino’s three-year journey with Jane on their sides Thor Tiles are too big to condense into a single movie, but the mighty Thor of love and thunder and the Mighty Thor of these comics might as well pale in comparison. As part of the film’s overall tonal discrepancy between wanting to be a Ragnarok-style comedy while also engaging with storylines that deal with things like cancer or grief and loss, Jane’s persona when she becomes Thor love and thunder avoids much of the latter to focus on the former for all the pre-release talk her main story. Clumsy and clumsy like an inexperienced superhero, she has an ongoing gag about trying to come up with an appropriate catchphrase after trying many, many terrible ones. She can fight and be strong and kick ass, but she’s more of a vehicle for comic relief and a vessel for Thor himself to yearn for until it’s time for her to make her sacrifice for him and to die in his arms, thatn She is on her own arc as a character. We don’t even find out what cancer she has (in the comics it’s breast cancer), it’s just “cancer” touched and left until it’s time for her to be sick and dead at the end of the film, never explored or interrogated – except for a moment when an enraged Jane-Thor smashes a bathroom sink after being momentarily dazed – because the film’s understanding of her is based on jokes and action rather than an attempt to explore her character feels about any of this. She’s there to crack jokes, kick ass and die.

The Jane of Mighty Thorin contrast, brims with a depth of life that love and thunder‘s superficiality could never match. It lies in their resistance to Asgardian kings and super-villains claiming the Thor name for themselves, and their insistence on facing their breast cancer as a human rather than an ally of literal gods – a stark contrast love and thunder‘s Jane, presented as practically jumping at the chance to use Mjolnir to halt her illness. It’s present in all of their brazen choices, from charging hammer-first into battles with everyone from Odin to the Phoenix Force, to the simple act of Kissing from Sam Wilson’s Captain America during a mission with the Avengers just because she can. Any moment is Jane ThorShe does the best she can for most people and loves every second of it because it makes her feel alive In a way, her illness is slowly denying her. In her final battle with the Mangog, she slams the creature in the face with a powerful right hook and, after asking why she would die for these gods who despise her, roars, “I’m dying for love, Mangog. You die for nothing but hate – that’s why you lose.

Image for article titled Thor: Love and Thunder Failed the Mighty Thor

picture: Russell Dauterman, Matt Wilson and Joe Sabino/Marvel Comics

Indeed, part of that love is for Thor Odinson, since it’s ultimately in love and thunder. But it’s not just for him. The splash page where this line is presented in Mighty Thor #705 stretches up and up from Jane’s punch, a massive one Kraków Rising above this, we see glimpses of her life: as a child with her parents, as a young woman holding hands with the Odinson, as a cancer patient drinking with Freyja, as Thor himself. Jane’s love encompasses more than just romantic love, it includes a love of Living herself, living a life she truly loved, living as Thor or otherwise, and that is the sacrifice she is willing to make, not just for a single man.

I wish love and thunder could have understood that. I wish Natalie Portman’s Jane would give the time to have even a little bit of the energy that her comic book counterpart had — to say, no, she wasn’t about to leave just yet when she stood at the gates of eternal rest. Instead, she must simply die, unexplored, unintentionally beyond her need to force Thor into his new status quo as an awkward adoptive father. Mighty Thor Comics have always been about Jane facing death, from the moment she picked up Mjolnir. But at every step she defied that conclusion with an overwhelming love of life. love and thunder‘s Jane is asked to just accept it, if not for herself, but at least for the Thor, who she cares much, much more about.


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