This photo means a lot to me. And I’ll tell you why.
Natalie Portman, as we know, was shut out of Marvel. She chose not to sign any new contract not just because of the way her character was treated (though there is that) but because Thor: The Dark Worldwas slated to be the first Marvel movie directed by a woman, her friend (and eventual Wonder Woman director) Patty Jenkins. Portman hadn’t planned on being in The Dark World, but lept at the chance to be a part of feminist history and to be directed in what would have beenJenkin’s first film since her 2003 Oscar-winning Monster. Portman signed a new contract with Marvel. They fired Jenkins soon after. Portman was crushed because she essentially had been duped into a contract for a film that would keep her away from her young son and force her back into a one-dimensional role under yet another male director. And we all remember how awful that movie was.
When it came time for the third Thor movie, they tried to get Portman under contract again. And she said no. Marvel decided to spin the story to make it seem like it was all their idea. At first, they went for the lame and nonsensical:
When Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was asked about why she wouldn’t be in the third film, and said there were “many reasons, many of which are in the film, so you will see that” continuing with “There are only a couple of scenes on Earth in this movie. The majority, 95 percent of the movie, takes place in the cosmos.” (x)
Seeing as The Dark World also took place in space, this answer didn’t have a lot of credibility. When Portman said she was “done” with the Marvel Universe, Feige got vicious in interviews, telling reporters that Valkyrie was in Ragnorak to be better than Jane Foster and a better match for Thor.
“We wanted Thor to encounter somebody that was near his equal and that his relationship with Jane may have evolved in unexpected ways in between The Dark World and Ragnarok, and we wanted to pit him against a character who was much more his equal and in many ways his superior.” (x)
Feige implies that A) Valkyrie was in Ragnorak just to be a romantic interest for Thor, B) Valkyrie is better and more powerful than Jane Foster, and C) Jane Foster was always Thor’s inferior.
What’s ridiculous is that Ragnorak had a “sorry Jane dumped you” throwaway line to explain Portman’s absence. And instead of saying that Jane and Thor broke up in interviews, a line that does not spoil literally anything about the film, Feige chose to attack Jane’s strength and capability, which would have been a very special dig at Portman.
Do you want to know what none of this sounds like? Taika Waititi’s opinion. Waititi is a master storyteller who does not sacrifice his feminist views for laughs. You can bet that Feige’s ridiculous slams on Portman and her character Jane– disguised as “promotion” for WAITITI’S FILM– would have troubled him immensely. This is a man with a Māori father, who had to use his mother’s maiden name– Cohen– for earlier work because an indigenous last name kept him away from opportunity. This man does NOT fuck around with entertainment that gets its power off of sexism and inequality. He knows from experience just how infuriating it is when it comes to directors missing out on opportunities because they aren’t a white man.
So how does he fix this? How does he fix the idea that Jane Foster can’t go to space, or that she’s not powerful enough for Thor, the god of thunder?
He makes her Thor.
Waititi saw Portman / Jane Foster’s name dragged through the mud by Kevin Feige in order to promote his movie, and when he got hired to direct again, he decided to right those wrongs. This picture means everything. He is on his knee, handing her Thor’s hammer, essentially saying, you will never have to go through that shit with me. With me, you’re a god. And the expression on her face, after Marvel attempted to break her, doesn’t need words.
What a photo. What a film. What a man.