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Here's Why Jane Foster Had To Return In Endgame

Avengers: Endgame featured the return of more than a few familiar faces, but one was particularly unexpected.

Natalie Portman, who portrayed Jane Foster in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, briefly appeared in the flick — and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely said in an interview with Fandango that it pretty much had to happen. Fair warning: spoilers for Avengers: Endgame follow.

According to the dynamic writing duo, Foster appeared in virtually every iteration of Endgame's script due to her up close and personal encounter with one of the Infinity Stones in Dark World. You'll remember that during the events of that film, Foster spent much of the proceedings infected by the Aether, a sort of gaseous form of the Reality Stone, which the Dark Elf Malekith was attempting to capture. In order to keep Malekith from getting his grimy Elven hands on the artifact, Thor's mother Frigga (Rene Russo) gave her life to protect Foster — an incident which Markus and McFeely felt audiences needed a gentle reminder of during Thor's sojourn back to 2013 with Rocket.

"It was very hard to find a way to not [include Foster], seeing as one of the Infinity Stones is inside her for primarily the only time we've ever seen it," McFeely explained. "It's literally inside her arm, so there weren't too many variations that didn't have Natalie Portman in them." The scribe went on to explain that some versions of the script featured even more Foster, but that the pair decided to keep the focus on the interaction between Thor and Frigga, which provided a much stronger character beat for Odinson and greatly informed his arc over the course of the film. "There were longer [scenes with Foster written], but... [the scene with] Thor and his mother was so rich and so on point in terms of what he needed to learn, that in already a three-hour movie we couldn't really have a long scene between, say, Rocket and Jane, because, again, it's drifting off of the character stories that we wanted to tell."

Like virtually all of the decisions the pair made in scripting Endgame, it was the right one. Portman had not appeared in the MCU since The Dark World (in fact, her Endgame scenes simply consisted of unused footage from that film), and it doesn't seem like more interaction between Foster and the time-traveling Avengers would have added anything of value to the story. Thor has even gone so far as to essentially brush off his involvement and break-up with Foster in other movies — but his relationship with Frigga has always been among the more important ones in his life, and his failure to prevent her death has cast a long shadow over his character's path in the intervening films. Much as she had always been, Frigga was in the right place at the right time — Asgard in 2013, to be exact — to intercept the Depressed Avenger and favor him with the words of wisdom he needed to come back to himself: "Everyone fails at who they're supposed to be, Thor. The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are."

While Portman shot no new footage for Endgame, that doesn't mean that she had nothing new to contribute, as minor a contribution as it was: her voice. According to Endgame co-director Anthony Russo, the star was needed to do a little bit of voice work for the scenes in which Foster was heard talking in the distance — so, technically, she did in fact reprise her role for the Infinity Saga capper. But her appearance in the flick and subsequent walking of the red carpet at its world premiere probably shouldn't be taken to mean that, in typical MCU parlance, Jane Foster will return. It's been speculated by many (including us) that the character may follow in the footsteps of her comic inspiration and take up the hammer to become the new Thor — but while Portman's parting with Marvel was amicable and she's never completely shut the door on a possible return to the fold, her comments in a 2016 interview were pretty clear. "I don't know if maybe one day they'll ask [me to come back] for an Avengers 7 or whatever, I have no idea," the actress said. "But as far as I know, I'm done. It was a great thing to be a part of."