Kevin Feige Clarifies Marvel Studios' Relationship With Natalie Portman After THOR: THE DARK WORLD

Kevin Feige Clarifies Marvel Studios' Relationship With Natalie Portman After THOR: THE DARK WORLD Kevin Feige Clarifies Marvel Studios' Relationship With Natalie Portman After THOR: THE DARK WORLD

Kevin Feige has cleared up Natalie Portman's break from the MCU after her starring role in Thor: The Dark World, a film that reportedly caused tension between the actress and Marvel Studios.

By DanielKlissmman - Jul 08, 2022 09:07 AM EST
Filed Under: Thor: Love and Thunder
Source: Empire Magazine (via The Direct)

Thor: Love and Thunder features Natalie Portman's triumphant return to the MCU as Jane Foster, a.k.a. The Mighty Thor. But just a few years ago, seeing the actress back in the franchise seemed like a pipe dream. Her last starring role in a Marvel Studios film came in 2013's Thor: The Dark World, a project that was reportedly a source of tension between Portman and the studio. 

For background, when The Dark World was being developed, Marvel Studios hired Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins to helm the film. Portman was reportedly key in bringing Jenkins into the fold, but some time after the announcement, the director and Marvel parted ways over "creative differences." The Hollywood Reporter later stated that the split was due to tension between the two parties. 

Per THR, this purportedly "deeply upset" Natalie Portman, who, according the trade, was planning to take a break from acting, but became excited by the addition of Jenkins to Thor 2's creative team. Ultimately, the actress remained on the project. After that, though, Portman stepped away from the Marvel Universe, and only returned in Avengers: Endgame for a cameo appearance that was mainly achieved through archival footage.

Now that she's back for Love and Thunder, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has shed light on the reported drama surrounding her MCU departure. 

Speaking to Empire Magazine (via The Direct), Feige was asked how Marvel and Portman worked together again after what appeared to have been a problematic split. The Marvel Studios head explained: "[The split] didn't feel that way to [me]. [...] It was [my] impression that if it was an interesting role, she would be game."

Feige's response matches Marvel Studios' apparent amicability toward Portman during Thor 2's development.

In THR's article about the behind-the-scenes drama of Jenkins' Thor 2 firing, the trade reported that Marvel was attempting to better its relationship with the actress, which purportedly involved including her in the process of picking a new helmer for The Dark World (the film would ultimately be directed by Terminator Genisys helmer Alan Taylor). 

Furthermore, while speaking to The Wall Street Journal in 2016, Portman was asked whether she would return to the Marvel Universe. The actress said she didn't expect to, but expressed gratitude for having been part of the franchise: "As far as I know, I'm done. I mean, I don't know if maybe one day they'll ask for an Avengers 7 or whatever, I have no idea. But as far as I know, I'm done. But it was a great thing to be a part of."

While her response could have been a professional way of dismissing a possible Marvel return, it could have also been a hint that Portman left the MCU in relatively good terms with Marvel Studios. 

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Portman stating that her time in the Marvel Universe was done only three years before she'd be announced as Mighty Thor begs the question: What made her return? As she told Variety in 2022, two things encouraged her to wield Mjolnir. Firstly, Waititi's plan to turn Jane Foster into Mighty Thor. Secondly, her desire to make her children excited about her work: 

"I feel like it’s the phase of my career where I'm really trying to just impress my kids. [...] My 5-year-old and my 10-year-old were so enthralled by this process, getting to visit the set and see me dressed up in a cape. It made it really cool. [It's] very rare that my kids are like, 'Please go to work!' Usually, it's quite the opposite."

Yet, re-entering the MCU was not necessarily like riding a bike. In an interview with Vogue Australia, Portman explained she felt both an MCU veteran and an outsider, given how Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth had become their own team while working on Thor's third outing: 

"It was incredible to get to come back, and also kind of surreal. It's so strange when something is very familiar but also, you're kind of the new kid. Because Chris and Tessa and Taika had worked together on Ragnarok, and so successfully and so, it was like they were all reuniting, and I was this newbie in there trying to figure out how to fit in. But [they're] just the nicest people, and [I] know Chris and Tessa so well from previous work together, and [I had] done Thor movies twice before. So, there was a lot of familiarity and comfort in that world too, but it was this weird mix of being the veteran and the newbie at the same time."

Thor: Love and Thunder is now in theaters. 

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GhostDog - 7/8/2022, 9:10 AM
I don't want to be one of those fans who often claims to "know it all and have this inside track into what the studio heads or actors are REALLY thinking", but its okay to admit you ROYALLY [frick]ED UP THE HANDLING OF JANE and it bored Portman to death. He has to know that right? We all know you're thinking it.

I know Feige is "Mr. Spin" when wording things as carefully and amiably as possible, but it's NATALIE PORTMAN. You wasted her in the past, it is okay to admit it.
LSHF - 7/8/2022, 9:15 AM
@GhostDog - Her character originally seemed like the old standard of having an attractive women like the main hero (with some science smarts as a bonus).

As an actress, she deserved more than that.

But, despite what Kevin spins things (and I am glad he carefully chooses his words), I like how the MCU continues to learn from its mistakes and eventually does better.
OmegaDaGrodd - 7/8/2022, 9:19 AM
@GhostDog - I felt like she played the role she was sold in the first Thor, but they reeeaaaalllllyyyy had no interest in finding anything worthwhile for her in TDW. Like, that may have been Marvel's most uninspired use of a character and actor to date, which was strange because you could've done anything more with her while keeping the core of the story the same
GhostDog - 7/8/2022, 9:21 AM
@LSHF - I agree. The MCU does understand it's never too late to realize they can make up for a mistake, from years past. There is serious reflection sometimes.
SpaceParanoids - 7/8/2022, 9:27 AM
@GhostDog - I agree. They seem to have a problem writing the supporting female characters.
- Jane Foster
- Christine Palmer
- Pepper Potts (who was probably given the most to do)
- Betty Ross (who was erased basically)

So instead of writing these great female counterparts properly they ignore them until they can use them as some kind of superhero or plot device.

LSHF - 7/8/2022, 9:11 AM
Well, if it is her last time (I haven't seen the new one yet), then she went out on top, so to speak. Good for Natalie.
Origame - 7/8/2022, 9:14 AM
What do you expect him to say regardless of the situation though? Like, if on the last day of filming she left saying "I hope you all die and go to hell", I'd still imagine he'd say something similar since he's trying to sell a product with her.
LSHF - 7/8/2022, 9:16 AM
@Origame - LOL!

Yep. He's responsible for the MCU's financial future, so I'm glad he's good at what he does (including how he speaks to the public).
defenderofthefaith - 7/8/2022, 9:14 AM
Lol. Another Thor movie article. A chance for more people to comment on how much the movie sucked even though they haven't even seen it. I thought The Jane Foster story in this movie was very good.
marvel72 - 7/8/2022, 9:34 AM
@defenderofthefaith - I've seen it and it does suck for the most part.
defenderofthefaith - 7/8/2022, 9:53 AM
@marvel72 - if you have seen the movie then it's ok to rate it. I just can't understand how someone can say something sucks when they haven't seen it.
Deonox - 7/8/2022, 10:35 AM
@defenderofthefaith - I saw it last night and loved it. Natalie Portman killed it, and they retroactively made me care about Thor and Jane's relationship
VictorAlonzo - 7/8/2022, 9:26 AM
Screw this. OT: THE BOYS just took down MARVEL & DC TV in 8 episodes!!! Wow! Btw- when is Invincible returning?
PapaSpank54 - 7/8/2022, 9:44 AM
@VictorAlonzo - yeah, as someone who has been pretty critical of the show after s2, this season really was pretty decent. Ended with a bang. Herogasm sucked (heh) and I still definitely think the comic is a more interesting story, I'm glad that the show's versions of Kimiko and Noir wound up being so interesting.
I don't just bitch about the show bc it changes things, it's because usually what it changes results in less interesting stuff than the comic had. I definitely think the characters that aren't Butcher and Hughie (and some of the side characters like Love Sausage) definitely benefit in the adaptation.
GhostDog - 7/8/2022, 9:51 AM
@VictorAlonzo - Invincible is taking WAY TOO LONG.

Scarilian - 7/8/2022, 10:03 AM
@VictorAlonzo -
I'm fairly sure they are trying to figure out how to tackle Amber's character in Season 2 - they got an insane amount of backlash for how they tackled that character.

I'm leaning towards them working on Season 2 and 3 simultaneously to release within a year of each other, so I'm personally guessing mid 2023 for Season 2 and mid 2024 for Season 3.
hummingbird68 - 7/8/2022, 11:02 AM
@VictorAlonzo - The Boys Season 1 and 2 was great - season 3 was a major step down, somewhere between meh and okay. But that's just my opinion :)
VictorAlonzo - 7/8/2022, 11:58 AM
@hummingbird68 - I feel like they are an eyelash under Better Call Saul for 2022's best television series. I also hope Rick & Morty returns with a gamechanging season as well.
hummingbird68 - 7/8/2022, 12:05 PM
@VictorAlonzo - I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic published under Vertigo / DC - Really hoping the adaptation is great - It's my most anticipated series bar none this year.
Side note - have you seen Dark Winds, it's reminiscent of True Detectives season one in my opinion.
VictorAlonzo - 7/8/2022, 12:11 PM
@hummingbird68 - I have not. I actually JUST started True Detective a couple months ago, and never finished it. I ended up latching on to Severance.

Btw- Let's put Severance in the television trio of 22 as well (great show)!
hummingbird68 - 7/8/2022, 12:32 PM
@VictorAlonzo - I've heard Severance is good - so after friends and your good self recommending it - I'll check it out :D
VictorAlonzo - 7/8/2022, 1:02 PM
@hummingbird68 - it was the only show I binged. 10-1 odds you will too.
DalekCraigWasson - 7/8/2022, 9:32 AM
Despite the negative word of mouth, I was still curious to see this but now a close family member I spent time with last night and was going to see it with has come down with the C word, so I am not risking it. Going to have to get a refund and see it next week ish.
Deonox - 7/8/2022, 10:36 AM
@DalekCraigWasson - Really? I saw it and really liked it a lot
DalekCraigWasson - 7/8/2022, 11:10 AM
@Deonox - Yeah, it seems to be getting mostly negative word of mouth from fans. I still wanna give it a chance but due to a close exposure to Covid, I am going to have to get a refund and see it next week or later.
Deonox - 7/14/2022, 1:34 PM
@DalekCraigWasson - So Saw Love and Thunder and I actually Really liked it. The opening i think had me worried, but the 2nd half I was there for it. But i totally understand why people wouldn't like it
marvel72 - 7/8/2022, 9:50 AM
Rotten Tomatoes Audience rating is 85% for Thor:Love And Thunder

Did they watch a different movie?
Scarilian - 7/8/2022, 9:58 AM
@marvel72 -
Critic score is 68% and will probably drop a little lower.

A lot of the audience scores are seemingly unrelated to the movie, just saying how they like Thor and cannot wait to see the movie.

The audience scores that actually reference the movie are all negative, but Rotten Tomatoes tends to count 3*, 4* and 5* as high while only 1* and 2* as low, so even a negative 3* review viewing it as average would result in a higher audience rating.

I'm also fairly sure a lot of the audience has not watched the movie and we must not forget that individuals can be swayed to post positive reviews of a piece of media for a reward of some kind.
marvel72 - 7/8/2022, 10:44 AM
@Scarilian - Yeah I get your point,some of the critic reviews score like 2.5 out 5 and it's still fresh.
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