TV & Movies

Is Natalie Portman’s Mighty Thor Really Dead In The MCU?

Jane Foster sacrifices herself at the end of Thor: Love and Thunder — but reappears in the post-credits scene.

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in 'Thor: Love and Thunder.'
Disney/Marvel Studios

When Marvel announced that Natalie Portman would be returning to join the cast of Thor: Love and Thunder at San Diego Comic Con in 2019, fans were thrilled. Not only was the new movie going to be directed by Taika Waititi, who’d helmed the tongue-in-cheek Thor: Ragnarok, but it also seemed like Thor: Love and Thunder would take on a beloved storyline from the comics — one in which Jane Foster takes on Thor’s mantle and transforms into a version of Thor herself, all while battling cancer. Major spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder follow.

Fans were correct: Natalie Portman does take over god duties from Chris Hemsworth. In Thor: Love and Thunder, Jane Foster temporarily transforms into the Mighty Thor while suffering from cancer. The cast is star-studded — in addition to Portman and Hemsworth, it features Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Russell Crowe, and more — but Portman’s Jane is the emotional core of the film. And she doesn’t appear to make it out alive.

So, is Jane Foster really dead? Below, what to know about the character’s fate.

What happens to Jane Foster in the comics?

Like all Marvel characters, the version of Jane Foster that appears in the comics is very different from her movie counterpart, in ways both significant and trivial. (In the comics, for instance, she’s a doctor, not a physicist.) She’s been around since July 1962, when she first appeared in a Thor comic, and her character has developed and grown over that time — and been involved in a lot of complicated comics storylines.

In 2014, writer Jason Aaron introduced a new arc for Jane: She was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, Thor had lost the power to use Mjolnir, and the hammer instead called to Jane, who began wielding it and became known as Thor herself. Nobody, including Thor Odinson, knew her real identity.

Jane functioned as Thor in the comics for four years, and was involved in all kinds of heroics that are too complicated to summarize here. Eventually, in 2018, her breast cancer diagnosis caught up with her: It turned out that she was shortening her life every time she transformed from Jane Foster to Thor, because the process — which made her strong, powerful, and temporarily cancer-free — voided her body of the chemotherapy drugs required to treat her condition. She was warned against transforming into Thor again, but did so anyways in order to save the people of Asgard. This decision led to her death, but because she died heroically in battle, she was permitted to enter the warrior afterlife of Valhalla.

But she hesitates before entering, giving Thor and his father, Odin, time to revive her. After she’s brought back, she resumes her chemotherapy treatment — and later get involved in more world-saving adventures, even temporarily transforming into Thor again.

What happens to Jane at the end of Thor: Love and Thunder?

As in Jason Aaron’s comic arc, the MCU’s Jane Foster in Thor: Love and Thunder is diagnosed with cancer and undergoes “intense” chemotherapy. And just like in the comics, she transforms into her own version of Thor — the Mighty Thor — by wielding Mjolnir, which temporarily makes her feel healthy and strong.

Unlike in the comics, though, Jane’s identity when she’s the Mighty Thor doesn’t remain a secret — Thor knows exactly who she is, which helps to reignite their romance. It also goes the film a bittersweet edge, as Thor knows that Jane’s days are numbered, and realizes that her transformations into the Mighty Thor are shortening her life. But as in the comics, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop her.

In the film, Jane undergoes her final transformation to protect Asgardian children from the film’s villain, Gorr the God Butcher (Bale). Once she and Thor have successfully saved the children — and saved Gorr’s young daughter, too — Jane dies, transforming into stardust.

In a post-credits scene, though, Jane arrives at Valhalla, where she is greeted by Heimdall (Idris Elba), who died in the previous Thor film, Thor: Ragnarok. Given the precedent of the comics — in which nobody, Jane included, ever really dies — and the fact that the MCU is exploring the multiverse right now, it’s not a given that Jane is really dead. Audiences will just have to wait and see whether Natalie Portman decides she wants to wield Mjolnir once again.