Natalie Portman to play female Thor in superhero sequel – with Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson also assuming lead roles in MCU

Natalie Portman will play the female Thor in the fourth movie focused on the Norse god.

The actress played Jane Foster in the first two Thor films and the character’s arc from the comic books will be mimicked on screen in Thor: Love and Thunder.

Portman ran onto the stage to thunderous applause during Marvel Studios’ Comic-Con panel and in a symbolic gesture accepted Thor’s hammer from director Taika Waititi.

Looking at the prop, Portman said: “Feels pretty good. I’ve always had a little hammer in me.”

Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, and Tessa Thompson, who stars as Valkyrie, will return for the fourth film, which is set to be released in November 2021.

The announcement was made during a lengthy panel inside Hall H of the San Diego Convention Centre on Saturday, where Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige laid out the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

An estimated 8,000 fans packed into the hall for the most high-profile and anticipated event of this year’s Comic-Con, the annual pop culture convention.

Marvel returned to downtown San Diego after a one-year break and continued its tradition of using the event to unveil its biggest projects.

Nine years ago stars of the Avengers – including Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Hemsworth – appeared on stage for the first time together.

It is also where the studio introduced Brie Larson as Captain Marvel three years ago and showed off the first look at Black Panther.

Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie made a surprise appearance at Comic-Con as Marvel unveiled new details about superhero film The Eternals.

The Hollywood star will appear in the movie alongside British actor Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh and Don Lee, who all joined her on stage in San Diego.

The Eternals are a group of superheroes who made their first appearance in Marvel comics in 1976 and were created by revered artist Jack Kirby.

The film is set for release in November 2020 as part of the new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

During the panel, it was announced Jolie will be playing Thena.

She said: “I’m so excited to be here.”

Directer Chloe Zhao said: “I just wanted to do a Marvel movie.”

Matthew and Ryan Firpo wrote the script for The Eternals which studio supremo Kevin Feige is producing.

The female-centric future of Marvel continued with Scarlett Johnasson, whose Black Widow is the first female-led solo superhero movie in the MCU. Johansson introduced Black Widow, also starring Rachel Weisz and David Harbour, on stage at Marvel Studios’ Comic-Con panel, as the company revealed phase four of the MCU.

Speaking after the announcement, Johansson said she is “so excited” to reprise the role.

She told PA: “We’re going to learn about what haunts this character. You learn a lot about her, there’s a lot of surprises.

“It’s pretty raw. We go to the brutal, uncomfortable places.”

Johansson, 34, first played Black Widow, a former Russian spy who defected to the Avengers, in 2010’s Iron Man 2.

“I feel like I’ve in a lot of ways grown up with this character”, she said.

“To be able to come back every two years to this character and peel away layer after layer over this period of time and with this unbelievable fan base, it’s kind of incredible.”

British actress Weisz, 49, said the offer to work on the film came “completely out of the blue” from director Cate Shortland.

Oscar-winner Weisz revealed she was so keen to work with the Australian filmmaker that she said “yes” to the part before seeing the script.

She said: “She’s someone I’ve wanted to work with for a long time so when I heard it was her, I was kind of blown away. Actually, she works very rarely, she’s a real auteur.

“It was incredible, and I hadn’t seen the script yet, so that was a very big draw. And Marvel are our contemporary mythology, they’re the great storytellers.”

Black Widow is set to arrive in cinemas on May 1 2020.

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