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The Schmooze

Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Scarlett Johansson: Jewish Women Will Dominate Marvel Stage 4

In Marvel’s 2011 superhero movie “Thor,” Natalie Portman played lead character Chris Hemsworth’s love interest. Hemsworth was a relatively unknown actor, Portman was well into her second decade as an A-lister. He played a literal god, she played a scientist who guided his fashion decisions while he handled saving the world. He was physically enormous — muscular, gleaming, in possession of a giant magical hammer. She was tiny, lithe, in need of protection.

In an announcement that rocked the mainstream nerd world over the weekend, Marvel Cinematic Universe shared plans to release ten upcoming superhero movies, a bonanza for comic book readers and popcorn lovers, both. Perhaps the most striking announcement is that Portman, who returned to the role of Thor’s love-interest Jane Foster in the movie’s sequel and in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” will star in the fourth “Thor” movie. But this time, she’s not playing the love-interest — she’s playing Thor.

Portman, an Oscar-winner and the director of 2015’s “A Tale Of Love And Darkness,” will play the mighty Norse god Thor in the fourth installment of the series. The movie will be directed by beloved Jewish creative Taika Waititi, who helmed the third and best-received “Thor” film. It’s particularly satisfying because Portman, for all her star power, has often played characters — albeit with great nuance — who exist in relation to more famous men.

She famously played Luke Skywalker’s mom, Anakin Skywalker’s partner. She won an Oscar for playing Jackie Kennedy. She stole fans’ hearts as Zach Braff’s love interest in “Garden State,” and it wasn’t until after spending decades in the spotlight that she has more regularly received roles as independent female protagonists, in “Annihilation,” “Vox Luxe,” and the upcoming “Lucy In The Sky.”

“I’ve always had hammer envy,” Portman said at the Marvel reveal, casually invoking Freud, penises, and power in one understated aside.

In another coup for Jewish women, Forward favorite Rachel Weisz will make her Marvel debut alongside Scarlett Johansson in the first “Black Widow” solo film, a part Johansson has played in eight Marvel movies, but never with top-billing. “There’s three really beautifully written complicated female narratives, which is very unusual in a superhero movie,” Rachel Weisz told fans at Marvel’s Comic-Con panel over the weekend. In the movie — which is currently in production under a female director, Cate Shortland, a rarity for Marvel — Weisz will play a super-spy in the vein of the Widow, but with a science background.

A Norse god, a super-spy, and a spy-scientist — sisters are literally doing it for themselves.

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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