Marvel's latest, Thor: Love and Thunder, includes some major developments with huge implications for the franchise's future. Let's break down those credits scenes and more — with spoilers ahead:
What's the significance of that mid-credits scene?
If you thought Chris Hemsworth was almost ready to hang up his hammer as Thor, think again. Love and Thunder explicitly sets up a fifth outing centered around Hemsworth — especially with its intriguing mid-credits scene.
After Thor seemingly kills Zeus, we learn the Greek god actually survived, and he's hungry for revenge. So he sends his son, Hercules, after Thor — and yup, that's Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein making his surprise MCU debut.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Hercules has been around in the Marvel comics since the 1960s. He was introduced as Thor's rival, but they later become allies, and Hercules has even been an Avenger. "His friendship with Thor began when Thor saved Hercules from an eternal life of servitude," Marvel.com explains. "Still, a friendly rivalry remains between the two, as they argue over which of the pair is the stronger."
It wouldn't be surprising, then, to see Thor and Hercules initially pitted against each other in Thor 5 before ultimately joining forces, and Hercules could be a potential Avenger down the line. In fact, he could theoretically succeed Thor in the MCU and get his own franchise when, or if, Hemsworth is ready to say goodbye. After all, Hercules hasn't just been a supporting character in the comics but also a headliner, as in The Incredible Hercules.
Notably, Hercules' comics history includes a part in Secret Invasion where he leads a team of gods known as the God Squad to fight the Skrulls. Secret Invasion is being adapted into a Disney+ series now, so might Goldstein have an unannounced role in that? Plus, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is said to be the end of the current iteration of the Guardians, and Hercules has teamed up with the Guardians in the comics, so it's possible he could join them in the future.
Is Jane Foster dead for good?
When Natalie Portman's return as Jane Foster was announced, some wondered whether she would have a big role in the MCU as the Mighty Thor going forward, possibly replacing Hemsworth. Well, about that...
Jane Foster surprisingly dies at the end of Love and Thunder, falling in the final battle against Gorr. But just how committed is the MCU to this death being permanent? Well, there's actually reason to think Portman could come back. For one, a post-credits scene takes us to Valhalla, the land of the gods, where Jane meets Heimdall, who was killed in Avengers: Infinity War.
Love and Thunder is based on a run of Marvel comics that also involved Jane taking up Mjolnir while battling cancer, and in The Death of the Mighty Thor, Jane similarly dies, arrives at Valhalla … and then returns to life after explaining to Odin she wasn't ready to die and feels she has more to do on Earth.
Granted, the circumstances were different. In the comics, Jane returns while her body is on the battlefield and before she technically enters Valhalla, whereas in Love and Thunder, we see her whole body disintegrate. But there's definitely precedent for Jane to return, assuming Portman is interested in coming back.
Could Jane return as a Valkyrie?
If Jane does return, what might Marvel have planned for her? One possibility is that she could become a Valkyrie, an Asgardian warrior like Tessa Thompson's character. Indeed, that's what happened in the War of the Realms Omega comic storyline from 2019. After the Valkyries are killed, Jane becomes one herself, and she goes on to lead a comic series called Valkyrie: Jane Foster.
So … Thor just has a kid now?
Love and Thunder significantly alters the status quo for Thor by making him … a dad. That's right, Thor pretty much adopts Gorr's daughter, Love, and the final scene shows them setting off on adventures together. So is that what Thor 5 will be: yet another Disney property to involve an adult hero being paired with an adorable kid after The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi?
That seems to be the case, though one reason to think Marvel might not fully commit to this hook is that Love is apparently played by Chris Hemsworth's real-life daughter. If the MCU's plan is for Thor 5 to be entirely about Thor and a child companion, wouldn't the studio cast a professional actress in that role? At the very least, expect a recasting for Thor 5, as Hemsworth told journalist Kevin McCarthy this is a "one-off," and his kids aren't about to become "child stars."
Could Love join the Young Avengers?
Thor's new young companion has the powers of a god, which comes just as Marvel is introducing tons of other young superheroes and seemingly setting the stage for a Young Avengers crossover. So keep an eye on Love to potentially be a part of that down the line, as she could join the various other youthful heroes in the MCU right now like Wanda's kids, Ms. Marvel, America Chavez, Kate Bishop, and Kid Loki.
Wasn't Valkyrie supposed to get a girlfriend?
One thing curiously missing from Love and Thunder is a girlfriend for Valkyrie, even though Tessa Thompson in 2019 teased she needs to "find her queen." The film does deal with the fallout of a love interest being tragically killed in the past, but a present-day romance will have to wait for Thor 5 — or, if the popular fan theory that she'll be paired with Captain Marvel is true, perhaps it could come as soon as next year's The Marvels, which is rumored to feature Valkyrie.
Will Thor and Loki reunite?
Love and Thunder is the first Thor film without Loki — not counting Matt Damon's cameo. But although Loki was killed by Thanos, a version of him from an alternate timeline is alive and well, with his memories restored, in the Loki series on Disney+.
So it's likely inevitable Thor will reunite with his brother eventually, with the Disney+ Loki at some point re-entering the main timeline. But then again, considering the original Loki had a heroic death alongside Heimdall, and it's repeatedly stated in Love and Thunder that dying in battle gets you into Valhalla, it's also possible the original Loki could be in there, too — and maybe even return alongside Jane.
Either way, Thor will probably have to get that "R.I.P. Loki" tattoo removed sooner rather than later.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.