So one of the reasons I managed to go head-over-heels (with exceptions) for the MCU is the absolutely varied nature of the relationships. There are some kinds of variations we still need to see (sideeyes, throws shade, etcetera) but the content of the relationships is a little different each time. We’re going to be looking at these in sequence, but I thought we’d start tonight with one that’s pretty uniformly healthy: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane (Natalie Portman).
5. Thor is unbelievably attracted to Jane’s intellect.
He’s interested in helping her prove her scientific theories completely for her own benefit. He finds her curiosity endearing even when it’s quite honestly dangerous. He praises her for her intelligence soon after meeting her: “Ah, but you’re clever. Far more clever than anyone else in this realm.” He goes out of his way to brag about her, for goodness’ sake. When Tony starts to brag about how Pepper is running Stark Industries so well, Thor immediately counters with Jane’s world science tour. This goes on for about two minutes and is adorable. This is made even more adorable by the fact that Thor himself is not exactly an intellectual: he’s not dumb by any means, but he’s more physical in his nature. He just sincerely appreciates Jane’s wholly opposite way of thinking about things.
4. Thor respects Jane.
Thor is a character who very well could’ve been a meathead stereotype who treats women like shit, but he doesn’t. Even in the beginning of the first movie, when he’s cocky and arrogant, he’s not lecherous or creepy towards Sif (Jaimie Alexander) or disrespectful of his mother (Rene Russo) (Thor actually loves his mother so much, which is another thing I love about Thor). And he continues to be a perfect gentleman to every woman he meets, but especially Jane. He isn’t pushy with her or rude, and when he upsets her he apologizes for it. This is also important because while Jane has her people (Darcy [Kat Dennings], Selvig [Stellan Skarsgard]) you get the feeling in the first movie that she hasn’t been too widely respected for a while. And you can’t honestly tell me that if a giant handsome man fell out of the sky and was all over you making hearteyes and being reverent and chivalrous, you wouldn’t be into him. I don’t care who you are.
3. It’s realistic within the parameters of the world
This pairing tends to get a lot of flack from people outside of fandom for being “rushed” and “unbelievable.” First of all, go watch Nolan’s Batman trilogy and then come back and tell me about rushed romances. Thor and Jane’s relationship is actually pretty realistic, save some stuff in the second movie that wasn’t handled super well. Someone on the internet calculated that Loki’s Earth age is approximately seventeen, or late teens, which would likely make Thor somewhere in late teens-early 20s. Now, consider that he’s a young adult, falling in love for what may very well be the first time, and his fixation on Jane makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it? And as far as Jane goes, well, she’s a practical woman, but she’s also been literally swept off her feet by a giant handsome man who calls himself a god and who helped her retrieve part of her life’s work. Again, you can’t say you wouldn’t be at least a little moved by that. I think maybe having her go into an emotional tailspin after he leaves is a bit much, but I can certainly understand being hurt by what she felt was him ignoring her. Anyway, he makes it clear that she is a priority to him, and while he is certainly a priority to her as well (she was prepared to die with him) she’s a bit more realistic about it, ultimately. We see this with the aforementioned conversation in Age of Ultron: just because he’s sticking around for her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to go back to work. So, ultimately, is it blown out of proportion? Maybe. But for these two characters, I think it’s reasonable.
2. They’re both dynamic, together and individually.
As mentioned above, Thor starts out as a bit of an asshole with more regard for himself than others. He does violence before he really thinks about it, he’s impulsive, he speaks in capslock and doesn’t seem fazed by destroying property. But he spends the first movie learning how not to be a douche, and part of that is Jane suggesting that maybe he avoid that. Meanwhile, Thor backs Jane as she asserts herself, goes out of her way to help, and honestly, I imagine that his arrival marks the longest amount of time she’s spent with someone who’s not helping her do her research project directly in a while, so, sociability. That’s something. Because they have each other, Thor learns not to be a jerk and Jane has the extra bit of proof she needs to get the success she deserves in her field. And they go from giggly, blushing teenagers with crushes to… well, giggly, blushing teenagers who are dating, but it’s progress. It’s cute progress.
1. Thor and Jane’s stories compliment each other.
Thor’s character development is pretty obvious: in the beginning of the first movie, he is arrogant, foolhardy, and too charming for his own good. By the end, we have seen him learn to apologize for his actions and not to jump into fights hammer-first, but rather to attempt diplomacy first if possible. (Of course, he’s still having issues with that second part later, but it’s a process.) And by the end of the second movie, he’s admitted that he is not yet mature enough to be King of Asgard. But Jane’s development, though more subtle, tracks as well: she is learning that she and her theories matter, that she’s smarter than most of her peers, and that she’s a very strong person. She’s tenacious and fearless and she refuses to be stopped, even when faced with severe consequences like jail time or death. And once she got onto something that the scientific community would actually listen to, they sat down and took notice. Additionally, in the second movie, she’s the one who carries a fucking Infinity Stone inside her body for something like a week or two, which is no small feat. Jane is learning to own her strengths and Thor is learning to own his weaknesses, and that makes for a more interesting couple than most people initially think.
–your fangirl heroines.