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Marvel Has A Powerful Women Problem [Thor: Love and Thunder Spoilers]

The latest Marvel movie dropped this weekend, Thor: Love and Thunder, and with it comes the introduction of the Mighty Thor, aka the Jane Foster version of the character. People have been wondering if Marvel would do this particular plotline for a while, and people were insanely excited when Natalie Portman came out to pick up the hammer on stage at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. Now Jane's story is on the big screen, and we need to have a conversation about powerful women in the Marvel universe.  But to do that, we have to add a massive SPOILER WARNING. So if you haven't seen Thor: Love and Thunder, this is your warning to return to this article after seeing the movie.

Thor: Love and Thunder - 9 HQ Images and a New TV Spot
Natalie Portman as The Mighty Thor in Marvel Studios' THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

In Thor: Love and Thunder, we see very little of Jane's journey of being Thor. We don't actually see her gaining her powers or figuring much out. All of that is done off-screen. Her journey feels very tacked onto the story, almost like it doesn't belong and was added in at the last moment.  All of that could be forgiven if she was given a good ending, but she isn't. Jane's powers are killing her, and instead of trying to figure out a way to write their way out of it, for the second movie in a row, a woman has had to kill herself for the greater good. At least this time, she didn't go insane.

Perhaps it is just poor timing that Thor: Love and Thunder is coming out mere months after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and that movie leaning into the powerful women don't get to stay powerful and maintain their sanity trope. However, the story that they have done with Jane might be even more egregious than Wanda's. While Multiverse of Madness stripped all of the nuances from Wanda's character to make her evil, this movie calls attention to the fact that Jane hasn't been around for eight years. They bring her back for one film to give her amazing powers and then have her die. At least with Wanda's journey, there was some hint that she was walking on the moral line. With Jane, they decided that bringing back a brilliant woman for one movie only to kill her off was the way to go.

Black Widow Still Set as a Theatrical Release, Disney Remains Flexible
Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as Black Widow in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2020.

The corpses of the female heroes in the Marvel universe are becoming an ongoing problem. We saw it in Infinity War when they sacrificed Gamora [even if they brought her back, sort of stripping her of any of her character development]. Natasha in Endgame and the elephant in the room for Black Widow also had to sacrifice her life for the greater good. Li, Shang-Chi's mother, is another example, and we just found out in the most recent episode of Ms. Marvel that Kamala's great grandmother was also powerful and also was killed. America's mothers show up for about three seconds before they are 'killed.'

Now Jane in Thor: Love and Thunder joins the pile of bodies. While Valkyrie doesn't die, her role is perfunctory, and she is injured and unable to take part in the final battle. Over and over again, the women end up either sacrificing themselves for the greater good, or they are not allowed to remain powerful for long.

Marvel has been pushing for including more diversity within its ranks for many years now, and the pushback from some bigots online has been loud. Yet as more and more of these female heroes are not allowed to remain powerful, as yet more missed opportunities are pushed by the wayside for the "sacrifice for the greater good" play, the future looks rather bleak. How long is Carol Danvers going to get to remain powerful? What about Jennifer Walters when She-Hulk debuts later this summer? Or when Shuri takes on the Black Panther mantle this fall? Over and over again, Marvel sacrifices women in their stories while patting themselves on the back for bringing these characters to life in the first place. You don't get to build your foundation on the corpses of powerful women and give yourself diversity brownie points at the same time, even if no one ever stays dead in comic books.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Teaser Goes Live
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Marvel Studios' Thor: Love and Thunder finds the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey, unlike anything he's ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But Thor's retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi), and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor's surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher's vengeance and stop him before it's too late. Directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit) and produced by Kevin Feige and Brad Winderbaum, Thor: Love and Thunder opens in U.S. theaters on July 8, 2022.

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Kaitlyn BoothAbout Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on Twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on Instagram.
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