Taika Waititi made a mighty mistake with Thor: Ragnarok. The first-time Marvel director's 2017 sequel to Thor: The Dark World ended the across-the-stars romance between Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) of Asgard and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) of Midgard entirely off-screen, with only a passing mention of the franchise's leading lady. "She didn't dump me. I dumped her," Thor scoffs in Ragnarok. "It was a mutual dumping." Eight years, seven months, and six days post-breakup, Thor reunites with his ex-girlfriend when Waititi returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor: Love and Thunder.
In an interview with Variety, the returning Marvel director said he regretted not including Portman in Thor: Ragnarok. The Academy Award-winning Black Swan actor last appeared as the mortal astrophysicist in 2013's The Dark World, returning to voice Jane in the Marvel Studios animated series What If...? (Portman provided only a brief voice-over for Avengers: Endgame, where Jane circa 2013 appears through the use of archival footage from The Dark World.)
"It was part of the comic run by Jason Aaron, and it was something that we were always in love with when I was working on Ragnarok," Waititi said, referring to the All-New All-Different Marvel era that reinvented Jane Foster as The Mighty Thor. "We were always talking about how cool that was. And part of me on Ragnarok really wished that Natalie could be part of that, and then when [Marvel] said 'we want to bring her back,' it all just made sense."
Waititi continued, "She's going to be Mighty Thor, she's now going to take the hammer [Mjolnir], and that character is going to evolve, and she's going to be a hero, too."
In 2016, Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige told the Empire Film Podcast that Portman's absence was due to "many reasons, many of which are in the film, so you will see that." A cosmic road trip that reunited Thor and work friend Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in space, Feige explained at the time that "there are only a couple scenes on Earth in [Ragnarok]. The majority, 90,  percent of the movie takes place in the cosmos."
Other Thor cast members, including Jane's earthbound colleagues Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), also did not appear in Ragnarok.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe as Zeus, Jaimie Alexander as Sif, and Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper as the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios' Thor: Love and Thunder opens in theaters July 8.