Thor: Rangarok is a big, bombastic, hilarious action adventure space movie.
What it is not, however, is a direct successor to the first two Thor movies. This is a franchise that has always struggled to find a consistent formula that works, and in an effort to make Ragnarok stand out as something different, certain compromises have had to be made.
(Spoiler alert, by the way, for Ragnarok, in particular with relation to which characters made the cut and actually appear in the film.)
We’ve known pretty much since the release of Thor: The Dark World that acting superstar Natalie Portman isn’t exactly fond of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Apparently, she only agreed to do The Dark World because her friend Patty Jenkins was directing, and when Marvel pulled a bait-and-switch and changed directors on the film, Portman was less than pleased.
Portman was very public about her annoyance with the Marvel Movie Machine, and stated categorically that she was done with the franchise, and that she wouldn’t be returning for another movie at a later date.
In anticipation of Ragnarok, though, rumors have abounded that Marvel was trying to schmooze Portman, in an effort to convince her to make at the very least a brief cameo in the third Thor movie.
Some reputable sources online had been suggesting that Portman was on board and that she was going to appear in the movie, if briefly.
Turns out, nope. No Jane Foster. No Erik Selvig or Darcy either – Portman’s character, and her gaggle of sidekicks, are all absent from the movie in their entirety.
So what gives? Were there attempts from Marvel to get Portman on board that ultimately fizzled out? Did the movie simply go in a different direction, or was a cameo left on the cutting room floor?
According to Ragnarok screenwriter Eric Pearson, these guys were always absent from the movie throughout the entirety of the planning stage for the film:
“This is such a different one, and Sakaar and the Hulk take up so much time. Sakaar is crazy enough on its own. If you brush by it… people probably already think it’s verging on too crazy. So, if you were to just gloss over that, then I think that people would have been bothered or not enjoyed it as much. So, we only had so much real estate — plus the introduction of Valkyrie, who I think really came together as a fantastic supporting character. Tessa was so great.”
This makes sense – trying to squeeze a trip to see Thor’s girlfriend into the movie would have meant taking an unnecessary detour that detracts from the story as a whole. The film is better of as a tight, focused story that blasts off into outer space rather than spending too long dilly-dallying on Earth.
It’s a shame to lose some of these supporting characters – Kat Dennings is always fabulous, and she could really do with a larger role in the MCU. That said, there’s always the option for her to pop up in a different movie within the wider canon, so Darcy fans can live in hope.
It’s weird to imagine this ever being the case that a movie would be legitimately better without the inclusion of Natalie Portman, but if there ever were a time, it’d be now.
That said, considering Disney’s ever-growing portfolio of key movie brands, there is one way this could have been made to work.
Thor: Ragnarok is a wacky outer space adventure. If Portman were to be included, there’s only one outfit from her movie career that would have fit the setting.