Natalie Portman is going to be the God of Thunder’s girlfriend in the new live-action Thor movie. While I sit back and let you absorb the what the who? of this news, I have to say my first reaction was to grumble.
Look, I have nothing against Mr. Hammertime. Also, nice hat. But in the long list of female movie characters that annoy me, “superhero girlfriend” falls somewhere between “hooker with a heart of gold” and “sassy best friend.” While there is nothing wrong with them per se, they’re just clichés and lazy storytelling devices.
And more to the point, why is the actress always the superhero’s girlfriend? Why can’t she be the superhero? Why can’t they get female superheroes right? Oh, Wonder Woman movie, where are you?
The list of female superhero films is thin and largely inauspicious. Catwoman? This is no way to say thank you for getting that Oscar, Halle Berry. Supergirl? Don’t get me started on that damn skirt again. Elektra? Well, that’s just a Victoria’s Secret commercial with kung fu.
Now, this new Thor film could turn out great. None other than Kenneth Branagh is directing and newcomer Chris Hemsworth (who plays Thor) looks perfectly capable of wielding a hammer.
Natalie will play Jane Foster. She was a nurse in the comics, but reports say her character will be “updated” for the movie. Gosh, maybe that means she gets to be a doctor now.
While I hope for the best with this film (the presence of Natalie and Kenneth does give one hope), I’m also somewhat resigned to the fact that — as with so much mainstream entertainment — the woman again seems to be the second fiddle, the arm candy, the damsel to be rescued from distress.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Natalie got to have the hammer instead?