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Taika Waititi On Convincing Natalie Portman To Return For Thor: Love And Thunder And Possibly More - Exclusive

The MCU's "Thor" franchise gained a new lease on life in 2017 when Taika Waititi took the reins as director of the character's third solo outing, "Thor: Ragnarok." Yet while the movie brought refreshing new humor to the Space Viking's story, it was missing one key element: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor's love interest from the first two films in the series. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) mentioned their break-up in passing in "Ragnarok," but by "Avengers: Endgame," it was clear he still held a torch for the brilliant astrophysicist.

Now, with "Thor: Love and Thunder," Portman is back as Jane, but the character is no longer just the woman who captured Thor's heart — she's also a fellow superhero, the Mighty Thor, who wields Thor's former hammer Mjolnir and is every bit as powerful as he is. This adds a new dynamic to the pair's relationship as they catch up after years apart. Yet it's a reunion that many fans never expected to happen. Returning director Waititi sat down with Looper to explain how he convinced Portman to return to the MCU while also addressing what would persuade him to come back to direct another "Thor" movie.

Waititi promised Portman a heroic return

While Natalie Portman's Jane was established as an especially gifted scientist in 2011's "Thor" and 2013's "Thor: The Dark World," she wasn't a character who could jump into the action alongside Thor, keeping her sidelined during key moments in those films. According to Taika Waititi, granting Jane her own superpowers in "Thor: Love and Thunder" went a long way toward convincing the Oscar-winning actress to come back to the franchise.

"It was about telling her that she no longer has to be on the sidelines as the girlfriend of Thor in a 'Thor' movie and can be an active member of the team and be a superhero and now can have the hammer," Waititi shared. "To prove it, [we showed her] these comic books, which are one of the best stories of all comic books of all time, and it's about that character. It was that and promising her that she'd have a good time."

Waititi fulfilled his promises to Portman, with a storyline for Jane Foster that's equal parts poignant and heroic. But even with the triumph of "Thor: Love and Thunder," it hasn't yet been announced if Waititi will return to direct the god of thunder in another film. Waititi indicated that if anything could convince him to come back, it's the close relationship he's forged with Chris Hemsworth. 

"We really understand each other," Waititi revealed about working with the actor. "He's very willing to try new ideas because there's a lot of trust with us. The only reason I'd come back is to work again with Marvel and with Chris."

"Thor: Love and Thunder" is now playing in theaters.