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Thor 4 cast, director, rumors and more

Ever since its official launch in 2008 with Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been met with, well, pretty universal acclaim. Fans have been taken on a roller coaster of tones and styles, from the lighthearted antics of Guardians of the Galaxy to the Oscar-worthy regal drama of Black Panther to the emotional one-two punch of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. However, some of the series' bigger heroes got off to slightly rocky starts — the Hulk, for example, still hasn't appeared in a standalone film that really works — and Thor, as portrayed by Chris Hemsworth, has reached heights we couldn't have imagined when he first thundered onto the screen.

Hemsworth's debut in 2011's Thor was at least a solid outing both critically and commercially. But after 2013's Thor: The Dark World ended up as one of Marvel's least-loved movies, it seemed as if, outside of his Avengers appearances, Thor's strength might have stalled. Then, Thor: Ragnarok came along, and thanks in large part to director Taika Waititi, the God of Thunder came roaring back into everyone's hearts with a blend of the signature Marvel humor and a fresh sense of wild sci-fi adventure, delighting audiences and critics alike.

Now, in a post-Endgame world, the Thor series is breaking new ground for Marvel, with the Odinson becoming the first among the studio's roster to be granted four solo films. We're learning more and more about this new adventure, with confirmations about everything from a surprising return to a major milestone in Marvel representation... not to mention, of course, a title. As new details descend from on high, we're rounding up everything we know so far about Thor: Love and Thunder.

Ragnarok, Infinity War, and Endgame: The road to Thor 4

If you're a little behind on your Thor lore, let's get you up to speed. In 2017, under the direction of Taika Waititi, Ragnarok sprung into theaters, chronicling Thor's attempts to save Asgard from Hela (Cate Blanchett), his conniving and powerful sister, and his struggle to escape from the garbage planet Sakaar with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). By introducing new characters like Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and injecting a much-needed dose of whimsy into the Thor series, Ragnarok became a welcome addition to the MCU, receiving rave reviews and crushing the box office.

Ragnarok finds Thor learning to accept that, as Odin (Anthony Hopkins) said, "Asgard is not a place, it's a people." Recognizing that the only way to save his home is to let it be destroyed, he finally takes his place as king as he shepherds his citizens into space, charting a course for a new home on Earth. Tragically, that's where Thanos (Josh Brolin) comes in, leaving half of the Asgardian refugees dead in his quest for the Infinity Stones as Avengers: Infinity War begins.

A devastated Thor survives Thanos' final snap, leaving him to spend Endgame seeking justice and revenge for those he's lost. When Thanos is at last defeated, Thor is one of the only original Avengers left standing. Ultimately, despite his less than athletic build throughout the film, he ends up joining the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight evil throughout the universe, leaving his right-hand woman, Valkyrie, in charge of the recently-founded Norwegian territory of New Asgard. All of this has set the stage for what's to come in Thor: Love and Thunder.

Will Chris Hemsworth return for Thor 4?

Thor: Love and Thunder likely wouldn't have even gotten a greenlight if Chris Hemsworth hadn't hopped back on board to play what has now become his signature role, so it's not surprising that he is expected to return as the God of Thunder. Though Hemsworth's Thor was a bit serious in the earlier films, Ragnarok and Endgame both saw a sillier side of the superhero. In Ragnarok, during his time as a captive of Jeff Goldblum's ridiculous Grandmaster, he ends up slated to fight the Hulk, leading to one of the film's most infamous lines. Even as he tries to save his ancestral planet from Hela's clutches, he maintains a healthy sense of humor.

Even though Endgame sees Thor returning to his serious roots as he mourns the victims of Thanos, he still gets plenty of comedic moments when his fellow Avengers discover "Fat Thor" five years after the team parts ways. Serving as unlikely comedic presence in such a heavy film, Hemsworth anchors his emotional beats while still keeping his performance light and entertaining, proving that he's more than capable of playing Thor in Love and Thunder and for years to come.

Asgardians of the Galaxy: How will Guardians 3 affect Thor 4?

Even though Hemsworth is expected to return as Thor for the fourth installment, he's got another potential appearance in the MCU already lined up. In the aftermath of Endgame, wherein Thor officially teamed up with the Guardians to fight injustice throughout the cosmos, it seemed inevitable that he would appear in the upcoming third Guardians of the Galaxy movie (for which James Gunn will officially return as director) as a new member of the crew. Of course, that idea seemed a lot simpler before we knew that the God of Thunder would also be getting his own fourth solo adventure.

Regardless of what happens in Thor: Love and Thunder, it feels right for Thor to officially join the Guardians in their third film, especially considering that he immediately forged a strong rapport with Rocket Raccoon and Peter Quill in Endgame (even though his bond with Quill was more competitive than friendly). However, the mere idea of Love and Thunder could possibly put Thor's involvement in Guardians 3 in jeopardy, so it remains to be seen whether Hemsworth will be able to appear in both projects.

Who is directing Thor 4?

After the success of Thor: Ragnarok, it makes sense that Marvel would want Taika Waititi to return as the director for Thor 4, considering the acclaim that Waititi's irreverent and dry comedic sensibilities garnered for Ragnarok. By taking one of Marvel's most serious and austere superheroes and making him and his surrounding cast totally accessible and even fun, Waititi (who also played not one, but four characters via motion capture) immediately left a mark on the franchise and made himself indispensable as a fresh voice in the MCU.

Even though Marvel fans are likely thrilled that Waititi is officially confirmed to return for Thor: Love and Thunder, it does get in the way of one of his other long-awaited projects. Waititi is placing his adaptation of Akira on hold so that he can return to the MCU, despite the fact that the project had recently been fast-tracked by Warner Bros. Fans can only hope that Waititi will be able to revive Akira after he completes Love and Thunder, but it's still clear that the filmmaker is giving up plenty of opportunities to make sure he can return to the Marvel cosmos. However, the director is also attached to an animated reboot of Flash Gordon, so he seems pretty prepared to multitask.

How will Taika Waititi's previous work inform Thor 4?

There's already one big difference between Waititi's involvement on Thor: Ragnarok and Love and Thunder, and that difference lies in the credits. While Waititi certainly put his stamp on Ragnarok as a director, he didn't officially receive a writing credit, working instead from a screenplay credited to Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost. As of now, however, he's the only writer attached to Thor 4, in addition to his directing duties. It may not seem like much to go by at first, but a closer look at Waititi's filmography could provide clues about what to expect if he's given more creative control.

Based on the filmmaker's previous work, Thor 4 could potentially be both more whimsical and more emotionally resonant even than Ragnarok. Before he joined the MCU, the New Zealand-based director's biggest international hit was the vampire comedy mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, which Waititi directed and co-starred in alongside Jemaine Clement. Clement, of course, is best known as one half of Flight of the Conchords, with whom Waititi had collaborated for the cult hit HBO show of the same name.

Ragnarok obviously represented a major transition into mainstream blockbusters for the auteur. He's even helmed an episode of the upcoming Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian. But even with Star WarsFlash Gordon, and Thor on deck while Akira waits in the wings, Waititi shows no sign of letting go of his indie roots — his next project is the "anti-hate satireJojo Rabbit, set for release in October 2019. In short, Taika Waititi is a filmmaker of many talents, and Marvel's decision to give him a firm grip on the reins for Thor 4 will likely represent a bold new direction for the MCU's fourth phase.

What will Thor 4's full title be, and when's the release date?

It's usually a safe bet that Marvel will have a strong showing at San Diego Comic-Con, and in 2019, as the studio looked forward post-Phase 3, there was plenty of breaking news about upcoming Marvel projects, including Thor's next outing.

During the huge Marvel panel on Saturday, July 20 at SDCC, on the heels of the announcement that Ragnarok director Taika Waititi would take on the next Thor film, cast members (along with Waititi himself) made an appearance to make a few major announcements about Thor 4. First off, the film's official title will be Thor: Love and Thunder, which could give us some indication about the film's tone as well as tell us a little about what lies in store for Thor himself — maybe the hero will be able to find a little time for romance between fights with various bad guys. As far as the release date goes, Thor: Love and Thunder will hit theaters on November 6, 2021, serving as the finale of the MCU's Phase 4.

Who else will return for Thor 4?

Quite a few familiar faces will return for Thor: Love and Thunder, including one Oscar winner who's been absent from the film series for a while now. In an unsurprising bit of news that was also announced at SDCC, Tessa Thompson will return to play the fierce, swaggering Valkyrie, who's currently handling matters in New Asgard during Thor's post-Endgame jaunt with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Thompson and head Marvel honcho Kevin Feige also made it clear that the movie would confirm Vakyrie's bisexuality, noting that she needs to "find her queen," making for a landmark in representation and diversity in this multi-franchise universe.

However, the most exciting casting announcement was undoubtedly that Natalie Portman, who played Thor's love interest Jane in both Thor and Thor: The Dark World (and briefly lent her voice to Endgame), will return to the franchise and pick up the hammer herself as a new Thor, just as the character did in a recent comics run from writer Jason Aaron. "I've always had a little hammer envy," said Portman as she took the stage and held Mjolnir high to celebrate this thrilling development. The talented actress' return to the world of Thor would have been big enough news, but letting Portman become a superhero in her own right just ups the ante.

A beloved character will return

Thor: Ragnarok was filled with unforgettable faces, but one of the MCU's most beloved supporting characters will officially be back for Thor: Love and Thunder

During an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, director Taika Waititi revealed an important Thor detail in the midst of promoting his 2019 comedy Jojo Rabbit, telling Kimmel, "My character is coming back, Korg." Predictably, the audience rejoiced, and Waititi responded as Korg himself, adopting the character's gravelly voice to say, "Thank you. Thank you so much for that reaction."

Korg, of course, is the MCU's most lovable Kronan, who made his first appearance in Thor: Ragnarok as a fellow captive alongside Thor on the planet of Sakaar, where the two were among a stronghold full of fighters forced to perform as gladiators for the pleasure of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). The two ultimately escaped the Grandmaster's clutches; Korg reappeared in Avengers: Endgame as a roommate to Thor in New Asgard before joining in the final fight against Thanos alongside the rest of the Avengers.

Korg is absolutely one of the MCU's most delightful characters, which makes it even more exciting that Waititi, a whimsically creative director, will reprise the role in the next Thor film, lending some serious comedic chops to Love and Thunder — on both sides of the camera.