Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why The Aether Will Be Major In Thor: Love And Thunder

One of the first things audiences learn about Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the centrality of Mjolnir to his powers. "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." That's what Odin (Anthony Hopkins) inscribes on the hammer with a magic whisper as he casts it and his son out of Asgard and down to Earth. It's only after Thor proves himself capable of sacrifice that he's able to lift the hammer and regain his powers again.

Thor: Ragnarok, which rejuvenated the franchise under the stewardship of Taika Waititi, walks this back a bit. Mjolnir is destroyed by Thor's evil sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), and the hero is somewhat lost, though not powerless, until Odin tells his son that the hammer merely focused the power inside him. "Are you Thor, the god of hammers?" Odin asks him.

But now that Mjolnir's getting passed around the MCU — Vision (Paul Bettany) takes a swing with it in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and chances are nobody's forgotten Captain America's (Chris Evans) turn wielding it in Avengers: Endgame — it raises the question of whether there are any powers still inherent to it. That answer is more pressing given what fans know already about the fourth Thor film. Thor: Love and Thunder will feature the return of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is slated to wield Mjolnir and become the Mighty Thor. 

Set to play a major role in that return is a key plot device from the less fondly remembered middle chapter of Thor's solo saga, The Dark World. That plot device: the Aether.

What will Jane Foster's powers be in Thor: Love and Thunder?

As Portman recently explained on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Jane's powers won't be a carbon copy of Thor Odinson's. "It's not exactly the same as Thor," she said. "It's her own version of it."

But the hammer doesn't say "shall possess 'not exactly the same' power of Thor" or "powers comparable to Thor's" or "powers of equal or lesser value than Thor's." (It also doesn't say "she or they," which, Odin should have known better.) So what gives? Was that all a lie to motivate Thor on his journey toward worthiness? 

One theory posed on ScreenRant holds that there's a reason Jane's version of Thor might be different, and it has to do with her exposure to an ancient power strong enough to warp even the abilities of Mjolnir. In Thor: The Dark World, Jane inadvertently absorbed the power of the Aether, the fluid-like form of the Reality Stone that can rewrite the rules of existence around it. Though it was later extracted from her, it's possible that her time as the vessel for the Aether imbued her with latent powers that Mjolnir could activate, or that it allows her to somehow alter the powers inherent to the hammer.

Why the Aether might also give Jane Foster cancer

Jane Foster's Mighty Thor would hardly be the only Marvel hero to gain powers after a close brush with one of the Infinity Stones. Captain Marvel received her abilities after an engine powered by the Tesseract/Space Stone exploded nearby. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver had theirs unlocked after being experimented on with the Mind Stone by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. The Mind Stone also powers Vision's android body.

It makes sense that Jane's close brush with the Reality Stone could have had lasting effects on her, though the theory speculates that it's possible they weren't all good. In the comic book storyline that sees Jane wielding Mjolnir, she's also battling cancer, and Portman has hinted at that storyline being featured in the film. If the Reality Stone rewrote something in her genetics to give her latent superpowers, it's also possible the changes it wrought left her body vulnerable to the disease, a cosmic double-edged sword. 

In the comics, the transformation into Mighty Thor activated by Jane's use of the hammer leaves her cancer-free, but only temporarily. When she reverts back into her human self the cancer remains, and what's more, her body has been purged of the chemotherapy meant to treat it, meaning every time she becomes Mighty Thor her human form gets more sick.

Whatever the chain of cause and effect, audiences will have to wait awhile to see. Thor: Love and Thunder is currently scheduled to be released in February of 2022.