Marvel let it be known on Saturday that women are taking over the most powerful roles in Marvel’s Thor franchise, but that wasn’t enough for some liberal commentators.
At the San Diego Comic-Con, the studio announced that Natalie Portman’s character, former Thor love interest Jane Foster, will become the Goddess of Thunder. On stage at the event, Portman symbolically accepted Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, from Chris Hemsworth, who has played the Norse God superhero across seven Marvel movies.
“I always had hammer envy,” joked Portman, who reportedly stormed off set of the second Thor movie, 2013’s “The Dark World,” when director Patty Jenkins quit in protest. Portman did not appear in 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” the third and most recent in the series.
Natalie Portman recieves her Mjolnir. Jane will become the female Thor in Love and Thunder. pic.twitter.com/OXRtvompad
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) July 21, 2019
Also at Comic-Con, Marvel confirmed that Valkyrie, played by actress Tessa Thompson, would come out as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first queer superhero in the forthcoming “Thor: Love and Thunder.” In this year’s “Avengers: Endgame,” Thor named Valkyrie the king of his mythical homeland, Asgard.
“As king, she needs to find her queen,” teased Thompson from the Comic-Con stage.
The dual announcements thrilled many in the crowd of the comic book convention. The media took it from there.
GQ Magazine on Sunday ran the gushing headline, “Giving Natalie Portman The Role Of Thor Could Be Marvel’s Boldest Move Since Black Panther.” In the article, writer Brad Nash bemoans that Thor is the ultimate example of Marvel’s domination by “white dudes,” calling the character “masculine and one-dimensional.”
Nash cheered Thor becoming a woman as maybe “the most important” of a series of “bold move[s] that Marvel has made towards diversifying its superhero portfolio. He noted: “A bulk of the heroes in their plans for the MCU’s fourth phase will be either women or people of colour, with the studio’s first Asian-led film in Shang-Chi also planned and a movie devoted to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow due for release in less than a year.”
Lena Waithe, a black and lesbian filmmaker and actress, tweeted the Thor news among a litany of “representation” achievements in superhero movies, commenting, “Shit. Just. Got. Real.”
Captain America is black. Thor is a woman. the new Blade got two Oscars. 007 is a black woman. And The Little Mermaid bout to have locs.
Shit. Just. Got. Real.
— Lena Waithe (@LenaWaithe) July 21, 2019
Out magazine, meanwhile, led its article about Valkyrie coming out by declaring: “Finally, we are getting what we asked for.”
Saying “female Thor” is sexist?
“Mjolnir was actually destroyed so Jane *can’t* become Thor.” Mate, there is a talking raccoon and this is the multiverse, just admit you hate women. https://t.co/frWhgGcEnh
— Philip Ellis (@Philip_Ellis) July 21, 2019
Others defended Marvel by pointing out that Jane Foster temporarily becomes Thor in the 2014 “Thor” graphic novel.
Hey people mad about Natalie Portman being cast as Thor (both those that don’t want a female Thor & those that want a different woman cast) … she hasn’t been cast as Thor!
She was cast long ago as Jane Foster.
Jane Foster becomes Thor (in the comics).
That’s how the story goes. pic.twitter.com/ZRpLhaooeL
— Scroobius Pip (@Scroobiuspipyo) July 22, 2019
A number of feminist commenters complained that people were calling Portman’s character “female Thor,” saying she should be addressed simply as “Thor.”
Brianna Wu, a failed 2018 Democratic congressional candidate from Massachusetts, said the offenders are “fake comic book boys, pretending to know marvel to get attention.”
I swear, these fake comic book boys, pretending to know Marvel to get attention.
Natalie Portman is playing THOR.
Not She-Thor. Not Female Thor. Not Thor Woman.
She is playing Thor. https://t.co/NS9oWex4DR
— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) July 21, 2019
Pronoun-declaring comic book writer B.J. Mendelson felt the need to correct CNN after it tweeted an excited reference to “Lady Thor.”
Psst: She's just called "Thor". https://t.co/c2sKCdr0OG
— B.J. Mendelson (@BJMendelson) July 21, 2019
Comics journalist Kelly Knox went ahead and suggested those putting “female” before the names of traditionally mare superheroes are simply sexist.
How I picture anyone who says "female Thor" or "female Hawkeye" pic.twitter.com/M7nCubb9DT
— Kelly Knox (@kelly_knox) July 22, 2019
Despite his initial excitement, even Out senior editor Mikelle Street worried that Marvel would somehow disappoint the LGBT community, citing what he considers previous missed opportunities by the studio.
“But to be frank, we all know how these things can be,” he said “Big studio movies have a history of giving queer nods and winks but never paying out in cut and dry ways. And you know, Valkyrie’s ‘queen’ could still be male! (We know quite a few male queens.)”
Meanwhile, young adult writer and Buzzfeed Jenna Giuillaume begged Marvel to heed her May review of “Avengers: Endgame” and stop “fat shaming” Thor.
Pls no fat jokes 🙏
— Jenna Guillaume (@JennaGuillaume) July 21, 2019
The release date for “Thor: Love and Thunder” was also revealed at Comic-Con: November 5, 2021.