Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Natalie Portman in 'Thor' not your average female role

For women in film, the femme fatale role has been one of the more prevalent roles. Whether it's Sarah Connor of the “Terminator” franchise — one of the many female counterparts to our favorite superheroes — or any role Angelina Jolie has played, we see the part with regularity. However, today's leading ladies are finding themselves in a bit of a different role, and perhaps no one knows this as well as Natalie Portman.

In 2010's “Black Swan,” Portman portrayed a talented and driven ballet dancer who would do anything, including drive herself to insanity, to land the title role of “Swan Lake.” This year, she plays Jane Foster, a successful scientist who plays opposite the hammer-wielding, testosterone-driven Thor (Chris Hemsworth).

The film's focus on Portman's character is what is one of the most intriguing parts of the story. “Thor” strays away from the sex-driven female heroine and hones in on the intelligent woman that is so often left out of film. Director Kenneth Branagh has given a bit of a character update from the 1960's comic version of Jane Foster, with Portman excited to forge into fairly untested waters.

“The fact that she’s a scientist and on the fringe of mainstream science and is almost this absent-minded professor type with her devotion to her work, I felt you haven’t really seen that as a female before,” Portman said in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. “She’s emotional and passionate and kind of a mess. To be able to see that kind of woman in this type of movie, I thought that would be something exciting.”

To see this kind of shift in mentality for a female character could be the early signs of a major overhaul in Hollywood. It's not uncommon to see a successful woman in a leading role these days, but to see a character in an action-oriented superhero film like “Thor” is a step in a new direction. For the superhero genre, which up until 2008's “The Dark Knight,” was growing stagnant, it could be a breath of fresh air.

The reaches of this potential makeover for women in film could be seen in more than just the cinemas. There is no question that the world of entertainment reaches far beyond the dinner and a movie crowd. To this day, there are still young boys running around with sheets tied around their necks, pretending to be Superman. There is still the legion of youngsters that hold three pencils between their fingers during recess to imitate the steel blades of Wolverine.

Though the initial attraction to these heroes is their colorful suits and action packed movies, there is a underlying sense of what a hero is. For Portman, Jane Foster is her chance to be that role model to young girls across the nation. It is an opportunity to show that the intelligent, successful woman is a desirable trait. While this mentality is already taught in classrooms and homes across the world, to see it in a summer blockbuster is an encouraging sign.

In the world of superhero blockbusters, to see a character like Portman's Foster is equal parts surprising and inspiring. Whether this role ignites a revolution of the female in cinema remains to be seen, but for now, it's a step in the right direction.

Reach the reporter at

Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.

Subscribe to Pressing Matters



This website uses cookies to make your experience better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.