When it was confirmed that Natalie Portman would not be reprising her role as astrophysicist Jane Foster in upcoming sequel Thor: Ragnarok, many fans innocently assumed that it was simply because the third instalment takes place in space (and human Foster is very much on Earth). But now, Marvel president Kevin Feige has shed some light on the situation and revealed that it was a conscious decision from the studio to not include her in the storyline as its planning to pair the titular Asgardian hero with someone a little more on his level...
"We wanted Thor to encounter somebody that was near his equal," the 43-year-old explained during an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "And that his relationship with Jane may have evolved in unexpected ways in between The Dark World and Ragnarok. And we wanted to pit him against a character who was much more his equal and in many ways his superior."
"Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is trying to not embrace any sort of Asgardian heritage that she has. Thor thinks maybe that will create a bond between them and, on the contrary, she wants to forget it all entirely."
It's sure to upset some that Marvel are attempting to suggest that genius scientist Foster isn't considered "equal" to Thor merely because she's not as physically strong as he is. So what if she can't fly, it's evident that each of the pair have their own strengths and weaknesses. But then again, it could just be that the studio intend to have Thor make a romantic connection with a fellow superhuman instead (and their justification came out a little confused).
Last year, comic book movie fans had to deal with the fact that Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man and Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts were on a break after the former dropped the news in Captain America: Civil War. It was hardly surprising though given Marvel Studios' track record with balancing relationships alongside all the action. Now, with Black Widow and Hulk's romance blossoming and another human/hero couple looking like they're headed for splitsville, it's not looking like things are going to improve anytime soon.
Directed by Hunt For The Wilderpeople's Taika Waititi and also starring Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, Karl Urban and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok is scheduled to reach UK cinemas on 27 October 2017 and US big screens on 3 November.