The internet was lit aflame by the announcement that Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster becomes Thor in the film Thor: Love and Thunder - but dedicated readers of Marvel Comics were no doubt excited because it means they get to see a noteworthy storyline come to life on the silver screen. The story of how Jane Foster becomes Thor in the comic books is one that has only just played out in recent years, but it’s an arc that is already a modern classic. From 2013 to 2019, writer Jason Aaron detailed Foster’s journey to and from the role of Thor, and it’s likely director Taika Waititi will find the narrative tough to follow.
Jane Foster as Thor is every bit as fierce, valiant, and noble as her predecessor - from whom she gains full assent to carry both the hammer Mjolnir and the name of Thor. The sight of Foster proving her worth by lifting the enchanted hammer is thrilling enough, but what happens next is truly an epic tale.
Jane Foster makes her comic book debut in 1962’s Journey into Mystery #84, where she plays the rather one-note character of a nurse with a thing for Dr. Donald Blake, Thor’s temporary civilian persona. She remains the God of Thunder’s on-again, off-again love interest for several decades of comic continuity, but during that time she also undergoes a great deal of growth herself, including earning her PhD and experiencing a bizarre period in which she shares a body with the Lady Sif.
Foster becomes a respected figure in the Marvel Universe for reasons unrelated to Thor - providing medical care for Captain America’s rebellion during Civil War, for example - and she eventually outgrows her relationship with the Odinson. She marries someone else and has a child with them - though both tragically perish in a car accident - and seems content to continue her medical practice and leave her mutual attraction with Thor in the past.
When Thor rebuilds Asgard on Earth - near Broxton, Oklahoma, specifically - Dr. Jane Foster decides to open up a clinic in the neighboring township. She maintains a close bond with her thunderous ex, which leads to a conversation in which Jane reveals the secret she’s been living with for a while - she’s developed breast cancer, and it is progressing rapidly.
Of course, Thor immediately pledges all of Asgard’s mystical resources to cure Foster’s illness, but she refuses his offer. As a woman of medicine, she insists on sticking to human science - namely chemotherapy - to treat her cancer, leaving the ancient Norse magic for the gods.
Thor is persistent in his efforts to convince Jane Foster to accept Asgardian medical treatment, but she refuses him at every turn. She does, however, accept when the God of Thunder nominates her as Earth’s ambassador in the newly-formed Congress of Worlds - a diplomatic organization featuring representatives from all the Nine Realms.
While Foster is busy politicking, Thor continues his Avengerly duties on Midgard until his world is shattered during a conflict with Nick Fury. The superspy lets the mighty hero in on a terrible secret - that one of Thor’s great enemies, Gorr the God Butcher, was right all along. This revelation convinces Thor that he is no longer worthy. With the enchantment broken, his hammer Mjolnir drops from his hand, and he cannot pick it up again.
When Thor loses confidence in his own worth, he drops the mighty hammer Mjolnir on the Moon, where it remains for some time, unable to be moved by anyone else. Then, a mysterious female figure arrives on the lunar surface and lifts the enchanted object with ease, instantly gaining the power of Thor.
It is eventually revealed that this figure is none other than Dr. Jane Foster, who could hear the hammer calling to her as she underwent treatment for her cancer. She approaches the all-seeing god Heimdall and asks him to teleport her to the Moon, where she makes the fateful acquisition.