Jane Foster staring in awe

Phase 4 is paving a new path for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. New and familiar faces are set to appear in movies like "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," including Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster.

Jane Foster’s last appearance was in 2013’s "Thor: The Dark World," which sees her accidentally absorb the Aether before Thor whisks her away to Asgard. The character will be returning for 2022’s "Thor: Love And Thunder," and is set to take on the mantle of Thor herself, as she does in the comics. On the page, Jane’s adventures as Thor are magnificent: She battles malicious gods, saves the Asgardians from certain death, and even becomes a Valkyrie after her time wielding Mjolnir comes to an end. If the movies follows the comics’ lead, fans have much to look forward to.

Will the MCU’s Jane have the same origin story as her comics counterpart? That’s up for debate: The MCU is known for putting a unique spin on what it takes from its source material. We know that Jane will become mighty on the silver screen, but how? We have a theory — and its roots lie in 2019’s "Captain Marvel" and 2021’s "WandaVision."

Mighty Jane’s origins

Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor.

Jane Foster debuted in the comics in 1962’s "Journey Into Mystery" #84. Like her MCU counterpart, she’s initially a love interest for Thor while the Norse god wears the disguise of Dr. Donald Blake. The character first appears as Thor in 2014’s "Thor: God of Thunder" #25. Initially, her true identity remains a mystery. It isn’t until 2015’s "Thor" #8 that the female Thor’s identity is revealed to be Jane Foster. What’s more, she is revealed to be suffering from breast cancer, which is exacerbated by her transformation into the Asgardian champion.

Regardless, Jane proves herself to be a hero every time she picks up Mjolnir. In the end, mighty Jane sacrifices her life … only to be restored by the OG Thor, summoning cosmic lightning to revive her battered body. Following the "War of the Realms" event, her path takes a new turn when she becomes a Valkyrie.

This development might hint at Jane’s future in the MCU. Marvel could revive the Valkyries for a future film, especially since Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is already a widely beloved character. Moreover, 2017’s "Thor: Ragnarok" reveals the Valkyries to have a long and glorious history on Asgard. And, of course, there’s the fact that New Asgard is now ruled by Valkyrie herself.

Enter the Maximoff twins

Pietro and Wanda Maximoff battle

2015’s "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" brings two new superpowered characters to the MCU: The Scarlet Witch, a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), and Quicksilver, a.k.a. Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). In the comics, the Maximoff twins are traditionally portrayed as mutants (and Magneto’s children). Thanks to those pesky X-Men movie rights, however, their history had to be re-imagined for their MCU debut.

The post-credits scene in 2014’s "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" establishes the twins’ origins, which are expanded upon in "WandaVision." HYDRA experimented upon the Maximoffs, exposing them to the Mind Stone. Of all the test subjects, only Wanda and Pietro survived. Wanda gained telepathic and telekinetic abilities, while Pietro acquired super-speed.

What does this mean for Jane Foster? Well, we know that being exposed to an Infinity Stone can trigger dormant abilities that make a person Avengers-ready in a matter of months. Pietro tragically dies in the battle of Sokovia in "Age Of Ultron" — poor Wanda — but his sister lives on, joining the Avengers and using her newfound powers to do good in the world. Clue number one: Infinity Stones can give you superpowers. Infinity Stones like the Aether Jane Foster tangles with in "Thor: The Dark World."

The Scarlet Witch’s story

Scarlet Witch silhouette golden light

"WandaVision" further explores the Scarlet Witch’s story. After 2019’s "Avengers: Endgame," the world is a bleak place for Wanda Maximoff. Her parents are gone. Her brother is gone. And, thanks to Thanos and his actions in "Avengers: Infinity War," her lover, the Vision, is gone. Did we mention poor Wanda?

The penultimate episode of "WandaVision," "Previously On," goes into more depth regarding Wanda’s origins. With Agatha Harkness at her side, Wanda takes a literal trip down memory lane and revisits significant moments in her life. We learn that Wanda is a witch who, as a child, subconsciously cast a probability spell that stopped a Stark bomb from killing her and Pietro. Wanda’s powers are magnified a thousand-fold when she encounters the Mind Stone. As it engulfs her with its yellow energy, it gives her a glimpse of her destiny as the Scarlet Witch.

Before "WandaVision," the extent of Wanda’s abilities was unknown. Now, we know she’s one of the most powerful characters in the MCU. The Infinity Stone unlocked the potential of her powers, while also seeming to merge with her, via her connection to Vision. Would Wanda still have become the Scarlet Witch if she hadn’t been exposed to the Mind Stone? We don’t know, but we do know this exposure is key.

Wanda isn’t the only Avenger to gain powers from an Infinity Stone

Carol Danvers absorbs Tesseract's energy

Another Avenger gets her powers after a close encounter with an Infinity Stone — and like the Scarlet Witch, she’s no force to be trifled with. "Captain Marvel" introduces Carol Danvers to the MCU, with Brie Larson in the title role. This movie, the MCU’s first female-led feature, does a lot to set up one of Thanos’ strongest opponents in "Endgame." Viewers go on a journey to the 1990s with Carol as she uncovers her memories and the origin of her cosmic powers.

Captain Marvel’s abilities include flight, durability, super strength, and devastating blasts of energy. And like Wanda, these abilities stem from exposure to an Infinity Stone. Carol’s memories reveal that she was hit with a powerful blast of energy from the Tesseract, a.k.a. the Space Stone, when Mar-Vell’s light-speed engine explodes. A Kree blood transfusion saves her life, but Carol’s cosmic powers come entirely from the Space Stone.

The source of the powers Carol and Wanda gain correspond with the nature of their abilities. Wanda, influenced by the Mind Stone, can move things with her mind and control the minds of other people. Carol, enhanced by the Space Stone, can emit cosmic energy, fly, and survive in space without a suit. Pretty handy — and relevant going into "Thor: Love And Thunder."

Jane Foster has been exposed to an Infinity Stone

Jane Foster absorbs the Aether

"Thor: The Dark World" is widely considered to be one of the MCU’s weakest installments. Maybe that’s why one of its most noteworthy moments isn’t often discussed. While investigating odd, portal-like anomalies with her wacky sidekicks (including "WandaVision" star Darcy Lewis, played by Kat Dennings), Jane Foster accidentally falls into another world and encounters the Aether. This liquified Infinity Stone has lain dormant since the last Convergence of the Nine Realms many years ago, which also marks the Dark Elves’ defeat by the Asgardians.

As Thor explains in "Endgame," "[Jane] stuck her hand inside a rock this one time, and the Aether stuck itself inside her." That’s right. Like Wanda Maximoff and Carol Danvers, Jane Foster has been exposed to an Infinity Stone. The Reality Stone dwells within Jane for days before Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) extracts it, taking a toll on Jane’s mortal body. During those few days, could the Aether’s energy have merged with Jane’s DNA on a molecular level, or triggered a latent mutation that could result in her developing superpowers?

What the Reality Stone does

Thanos using Reality Stone on Titan

Each Infinity Stone’s name is pretty self-explanatory: The Space Stone creates portals through space, the Mind Stone controls minds, etc. The Reality Stone, however, remains somewhat mysterious. The extent of its power is unclear in "Thor: The Dark World:" Malekith gets a big boost in power after absorbing the Aether from Jane, but nothing like the reality-warping shenanigans we see in "WandaVision." Thanos shows fans a further extent of its power in "Avengers: Infinity War" when he faces the Guardians on Knowhere, and again during his fight on Titan. The Reality Stone can warp reality — maybe even multiple realities.

Marvel is set to explore the multiverse in Phase 4. 2022’s "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" wears that intention on its sleeve, while 2021 Disney+ series "Loki" dives head-first into alternate timeline shenanigans. "WandaVision" introduces fans to the true extent of Wanda’s powers, which are nigh-godlike. Jane, who has tangled with the Reality Stone more than any other character, seems likely to figure into such storylines in a major way.

From one Jane to another

Loki and Mobius at the TVA

Jane Foster dips out of the MCU after "Thor: The Dark World." Though she’s mentioned in "Age Of Ultron," "Thor: Ragnarok" seemingly writes her out of the franchise by establishing a break up with Thor. But what if Jane had other stuff going on at the time? Absorbing the Aether almost killed her, after all. Maybe there were consequences to her time with the Reality Stone which the MCU hasn’t explored — until now.

Jane’s DNA could have been altered by the Reality Stone, giving her powers a la Captain Marvel and the Scarlet Witch. What would these powers be? If the Reality Stone does indeed warp reality and even allow for interdimensional travel, then it’s possible that Jane has retained some of those same abilities.

We know that Jane Foster will take on the mantle of Thor. If things proceed like they do in the comics, it’s safe to say that reality-warping powers are off the table. That’s cool — Wanda has that covered. But what if Jane could siphon powers from an alternate version of herself in the multiverse, one deemed worthy and given powers by Odin? "Loki" introduces the idea of multiple character "variants," who are essentially alternate selves from different strands of reality. Jane could absorb the powers of one of her alternate selves pretty easily, with some Aether-caused abilities. Or perhaps her alternate self could swap timelines to stir up trouble in the mainstream reality.

Introducing the X-Men

Jane Foster wearing teal shawl

Okay, siphoning powers from an alternate self in a different reality sounds a bit out there, even for Marvel. But that doesn’t rule out option two: Jane might be a mutant. Now that Disney has the X-Men movie rights, it’s pretty much guaranteed that fans will see mutants making their MCU debut at some point. Jane could be the first mutant introduced, with the Reality Stone triggering her X-gene. Instead of absorbing Thor’s powers from an alternate version of herself, Jane could simply gain Thor-like abilities from her own DNA.

This seems more comprehensible, as well as being a great way to introduce mutants into the MCU. Admittedly, however, limiting mutation to people exposed to Infinity Stones could restrict the X-Men going forward. Surely that’s not many people, right?

Well, if "WandaVision" is anything to go by, there’s cosmic energy all around Westview capable of changing a person’s DNA. Moreover, in "Endgame," the Avengers track Thanos by the enormous burst of cosmic energy he leaves behind after using the Stones. That could explain how other members of the population become mutants while establishing Jane as an original X-Men member in the MCU.

Monica Rambeau’s origins might mirror Jane’s

Monica Rambeau glowing blue eyes

During the events of "WandaVision," Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) passes through Wanda’s barrier three times. Darcy informs her that this has changed her DNA, literally rewriting her reality and giving her fantastic electromagnetic abilities. Though other elements of reality rewritten by Wanda’s powers go back to normal once she lets the Hex on Westview drop, Monica’s powers seem pretty permanent.

Moreover, in "The Series Finale," Wanda tells Vision that she created him from the piece of the Mind Stone that lives inside her. How literal is Wanda being here? Did she really take in some of the Mind Stone’s raw power? Is that how she’s able to emit enough cosmic energy to rewrite a person’s DNA, giving them mutant-like abilities — to say nothing of the way she creates Vision anew?

What does this mean for Jane Foster? It’s possible some of the Reality Stone could still be within her, as the Mind Stone was in Wanda. If not, then it’s still possible that the cosmic radiation of the Stone could have changed her DNA, like Monica Rambeau. "Thor: The Dark World" could end up being Jane Foster’s origin story.

Odin isn’t around anymore

Odin wearing tan eyepatch

After the events of "Thor: Ragnarok," the All-Father (Anthony Hopkins) isn’t alive anymore to bestow Thor’s power on Jane Foster. Maybe in another pocket of the multiverse, Odin never died. Maybe he had a change of heart during "Thor: The Dark World," and declared Jane to be as worthy as his son. Or hey, maybe Odin doesn’t play any role in bestowing Jane’s powers at all.

On June 1, 2021, Chris Hemsworth shared a post on Instagram to commemorate the final day of "Thor: Love And Thunder" filming. Thor’s "Endgame" look is no more — the character is more ripped than ever. That’s not all: Leaked images of merchandise have given fans their first look at Jane Foster as Thor, and she is mighty indeed.

There’s every chance Thor could give Jane her powers instead of Odin. Thor is a changed man in "Endgame." Like Wanda, the God of Thunder is grieving, brutally punishing himself for not going "for the head" and preventing Thanos’ snap. Meeting his mother Frigga (Rene Russo) in the past, as well as finally reversing the snap and defeating Thanos, brings him closure. Still, Thor’s recovery could be a prevalent theme in "Thor: Love And Thunder." It’s easy to imagine Thor passing his powers to someone else as part of the journey.

Jane Foster could be an Avenger

The Avengers amid rubble

With Thor in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Midgard is missing a God of Thunder. Hemsworth’s Thor could always decide to return to New Asgard, but it’s possible he might stay in space following "Thor: Love And Thunder." New Asgard is safe in Valkyrie’s hands, and with Jane becoming Thor, there’s a chance she could take his place as an Avenger.

The original Avengers are indeed busy passing the torch to a new generation. Tony Stark bequeaths E.D.I.T.H to Peter Parker in 2019’s "Spider-Man: Far From Home." Riri Williams, a young genius who builds her own suit of armor, is set to appear in the Disney+ series "Ironheart." 2021’s "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier" hinges on Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) becoming the new Captain America. Even Hawkeye is set to spend much of his upcoming Disney+ series (titled, unsurprisingly, "Hawkeye") training a new young archer.

So it seems likely fans could see Thor pass the torch in his next solo film. This doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Hemsworth’s Thor in the MCU, however. Thor might simply decide to join Captain Marvel as a wandering protector of the universe, while Jane is busy protecting her home planet with Captain America, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and the other Avengers.

Everything we know about Thor: Love And Thunder so far

Thor: Love And Thunder logo

"Thor: Love And Thunder" hits theatres in May 2022. Hemsworth will return for his fourth solo film, alongside Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, and many other familiar faces. Indeed, the Guardians of the Galaxy are also set to appear in this movie: Chris Pratt is reprising his role as Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, while Karen Gillan is set to star as Nebula. The film’s new characters remain mysterious, but offer tantalizing story possibilities: Russell Crowe will have a cameo as Zeus of Greek mythology, while Christian Bale will play Gorr, the fearsome God-Butcher.

Amidst the hijinks this movie will doubtlessly feature, Jane Foster will be stepping into the spotlight, shedding the role of love interest to become a superheroine in her own right. Whether her powers stem from her exposure to the Reality Stone, Thor’s favor, or an X-gene remains unknown for now. Fans are left to speculate how the astrophysicist will become mighty — something they have a lot of practice at.