The real reason Thor doesn't see Jane Foster anymore

There's no doubt that Chris Hemsworth's Thor has seen a massive overhaul — and a haircut, too — in his last pair of appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of the changes have been for the good, bringing a fresh spark of life to a character who had, before Thor: Ragnarok, been more or less meandering his way through the MCU, overpowered and underappreciated.

But of all the changes in Thor's life, one that's been given strangely little attention is the matter of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). A preeminent astrophysicist and a love interest of the Asgardian god for years, Jane had played a key role in the first two installments of the Thor series. Then, suddenly, she was gone, seemingly written out of the whole MCU with a quick explanation that she had "dumped" Thor (though he argues to the contrary). 

Breakup details aside, what exactly happened to Jane Foster? In the comic world, Foster has actually had an epic character arc that involved a bout with cancer and a long stint in which she actually takes up the mantle of Thor herself. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, that's far from likely at this point. Here's why Jane Foster doesn't see Thor anymore.

Dark trouble

While we all like to think that a character leaving a series is simply a mutual parting of ways behind the camera, it appears that may not be the case here. According to a story from Cinema Blend, when Portman was brought on to reprise her role as Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World, she apparently was brimming with enthusiasm at the thought of working with then-director Patty Jenkins. She even appears to have pushed off plans to take a break from acting and spend more time with her newborn son in order to take part in the movie.

From there, though, things went south fairly quickly. Jenkins was replaced by Alan Taylor (don't worry, she landed on her feet, directing DC's hit Wonder Woman instead), and the change seems to have left a bad taste in Portman's mouth. While she did finish principal photography for The Dark World — a film that ended up being largely considered the weakest of the three Thor movies thus far — she subsequently turned down a request to return for reshoots. It's not surprising, then, that with the Thor storyline looking at the time like it might sputter out, Portman would have had very little motivation to proactively continue her role in the MCU.

Replaceable?

The mantra of Thor: Ragnarok seemed to be "out with the old and in with the new." From characters like the Warriors Three and Dr. Selvig to the earthbound settings of the first two movies, Ragnarok blew the franchise wide open by creating a movie that brought a whole new ensemble of characters (and an old friend from work) into a galaxy-wide romp that had very little to do with the Thor franchise of old. One of the major developments that this massive overhaul brought about was the introduction of the character Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).

A comparison of two characters as diametrically different as Jane Foster and Valkyrie can be difficult. On the one hand, Foster is a genuine hero for mankind through her research and scientific acumen. On the other, you can't beat a renegade warrior that flies on a pegasus wielding a Dragonfang, right? Is there even a competition here? 

In the comic books, Foster genuinely does develop into something "larger than life," but in the MCU, she remains somewhat shackled by her human existence. With movie events going increasingly cosmic, it's not going to get any easier for her to keep up. It's only natural, then, if Valkyrie fills the role of the long-term leading female character of the franchise.

Weaving a new tale

Plenty of "behind the scenes" elements have kept Natalie Portman out of the MCU, from directorial disapproval to a lack in character evolution. Ragnarok's throwaway breakup line dispatches Jane as quickly as possible, while still leaving a door open for her to return in the future. The fact remains, though, that the story just doesn't have much of a use for her anymore.

As recently as February of 2018, Portman made it clear that she was open to returning to the MCU. But the truth is, the writers have done a pretty good job of cutting Foster out at this point. Rather than being a detriment to Thor's character, some distance from the relationship seems to have given the Thunder God's tale a boost. In the short space of two movies (including Infinity War, which didn't even have that much time to spend with Thor), the folks at Marvel have adroitly managed to weave so many new elements into his character arc that, at the end of the day, the absence of Foster was more of an afterthought than the gaping plot hole it could have been.

The Monarch

One thing that's definitely keeping Thor occupied as of late is his long-awaited coronation as the new king of Asgard. Ever since his first movie, he has been preparing to take the throne, but his various trials and tribulations as an Avenger and a protector of the Nine Realms kept delaying his rise. With the death of Odin in Raganrok, though, he at last inherited the crown.

Of course, this also coincided with a bunch of other fairly dire goings-on that kept him from simply ruling in peace. Rather than shepherding his flourishing people into a new and vibrant age, Thor's duties as king immediately dragged him into a whirlwind of monarchical issues, from watching out for his usurping siblings to trying to head off the unleashing of Ragnarok itself. Needless to say, maintaining personal relationships had to take a backseat to the requirements of keeping a kingdom from crumbling.

The Savior

Becoming king didn't mean Thor's other roles could just be abandoned, of course. The man — er, god — has been extremely busy running around the universe, saving people left and right. Even in The Dark World and the first Avengers flick — points in time where Jane Foster was still clearly in the picture — he was already having to make excuses about being absent for so long without touching base. All things considered, though, his excuses are pretty good compared to, say, a drunk boyfriend getting home late because he was out with the boys.

From invasions of Asgard to the Battle of New York (an event that gets Foster particularly steamed for his being so close to her and not visiting), Thor was already going years between communications even before she broke up with him. And, as we all know, long-distance relationships like these often tend to not work out. Add in the unleashing of Ragnarok and the war against Thanos, and the case can be pretty soundly made that Thor is just too busy at work to tend to his personal life at the moment.

Mommy and Daddy issues

The big political issues in Thor's life are clear, but let's dig a little deeper into the home front for a minute here. The end of Jane Foster's role in the story coincided with two important deaths: Frigga's and Odin's. Thor's mother was killed in The Dark World while actively fighting to save Jane from being captured by dark elves, and then his father died early in the events of Ragnarok.

There's no doubt that Thor's seen a lot of people die over the years. He is a warrior, after all. But when it's a parent that you're watching die, let alone both parents, it can really start to get to you. And we're not talking about hospital bedside deaths, either. His mom was stabbed to death and bled out in his father's arms, and his father vaporized in front of his eyes. It's pretty fair to assume that Thor will be dealing with some PTSD for a while.

Sibling rivalry

The anguish of losing loved ones doesn't stop at his parents. Thor has seen his family torn to shreds over the course of his last few movies. Loki, the adopted prince of Asgard, has had quite a turbulent ride through the MCU thus far, playing the role of the key evil villain in Avengers (working for Thanos, as we eventually learned), along with numerous betrayals and usurpations that have left Thor angry, devastated, and just plain confused. Betrayals aside, even when Loki's fallen in line with the good guys, he's still put Thor through emotional trauma by "dying" multiple times, whether tumbling through space or falling on a blade. Finally, Thor had to watch as Loki was slain by Thanos once and for all… or was he? Yes, he was. Maybe.

And then there's Hela. Thor's sister and the Goddess of Death, her presence in the story was a bit shorter than Loki's, but just as damaging, if not more so. Hela played the chief antagonist in Ragnarok, usurping Thor's position as ruler of Asgard and leading with a death-hardened fist. Thor was forced to help bring about Ragnarok just to stop (and kill) her. Between a brother who stabs you in the back and a sister who just wants to get rid of you forever, Thor's family is another factor that has kept the Son of Odin understandably too busy for courtship.

Hobbies

So, Thor has had to lead his people, protect the universe, and deal with a seriously dysfunctional family. All of that on its own would be far and away enough to prevent him from taking Jane out for dinner and a movie every weekend. But let's not forget another easily overlooked factor here: his hobbies.

From chilling with the Avengers — remember that "unworthy" party scene with the hammer in the Avengers Tower in Age of Ultron? — to his fledgling career as a champion gladiator on Sakaar, sometimes a king/warrior/family man just needs a chance to kick back and put his feet up. Of course, the party in Avengers Tower was cut short by Ultron's arrival and the gladiator bit may have been a form of slavery. Still, that beaming grin on his face proves that even at his worst moments, Thor's always looking for a bit of fun to distract him from his laundry list of obligations.

The Mad Titan

In current news, there's also that little matter of Thanos wiping out half the universe with a single snap of his fingers. One could point to work, hobbies, and family loyalties as simple excuses for why a boyfriend can't spend time hanging out with his gal, but when half the universe is gone and it's partly because you didn't aim for the head, people are going to give you the stink-eye no matter where you try going out for dinner.

Jokes aside, Thor is obviously going to be front and center in the Avengers' upcoming universe-saving jamboree. From his freshly leveled-up lightning powers to his shiny new weapon, both Ragnarok and Infinity War spent a lot of time shaping the grief-stricken King of Asgard into what will clearly be a critical piece of the puzzle in the final toppling of Thanos. And if you thought the Battle of New York was a good enough excuse to not drop in for a quick visit, you can bet the galaxy-wide, time-warping adventure is going to keep Thor's hands as full as possible while he's busy stopping the Mad Titan.

Just not compatible

In the end, sometimes the simplest answer is the best one. Jane Foster and Thor are clearly just not compatible. Sure, they met when Thor was in mostly human form, and he's not thirty feet tall or green or transparent (these are important details for your dating profile if you live in the Marvel Universe), but seriously, how long could they last? Plenty of celebrity couples manage to overcome a significant age difference, but your man being over 1,500 years old is an undeniable red flag.

The plain fact of the matter is that Thor is a god and Jane Foster is not. You can't beat around that bush, at least not at this point. Sure, the comics bring Foster into the Thor role, and even in The Dark World, she came incredibly close to some god-level power (she did have an Infinity Stone inside of her for a while there), but she eventually became plain old human Jane Foster again. The MCU missed its chance to make her more compatible with the God of Thunder and passed on it.

We can pretty safely assume that Jane Foster and Thor's break-up was for the better at this point. Jane can go on studying and doing important science things while Thor continues saving the universe, and no one's feelings need to get hurt.