The new “Thor: The Dark World” poster has received a fair amount of criticism for several reasons. The poster features Thor (Chris Hemsworth) standing protectively next to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Critics of the poster claim it makes Portman’s character look too vulnerable – a sensitive and valid concern considering the still-evolving role of female characters in comic book movies.
This poster instantly reminded me of a similar promotional image used for the first Thor movie (2011).
In both images, the characters look off-screen, presumably at a potential threat.
Clothing. Jane’s costuming in “Thor: The Dark World” has already been the subject of a fantastic amount of discussion and analysis. It’s also important here:
- In the T1 image, her arms are completely uncovered. This makes her look vulnerable, especially in contrast to Thor, who is entirely armored. Furthermore, this may be a deliberate artistic decision considering Jane Foster doesn’t actually go sleeveless or show so little skin at any point in “Thor.” In the T2 image, some of Jane’s arm is still exposed, but she is armored.
- In the T1 image, Jane’s clothing showed little authority. As she hadn’t been to Asgard yet, it makes sense that she would not be clad in Asgardian clothing. However, “Thor” provides Jane with many props and accessories that provide a sense of authority and/or intelligence, such as: astronomical watch, university ID badges, handheld scientific equipment, keys to a vehicle in which she is typically in the driver’s seat, and of course her journal – which is a character-necessary reminder that she is always searching for scientific evidence – none featured in the photo, although Thor gets to hold Mjolnir. In the T2 image, her armor dictates a level of nobility and authority, as does her dress. Everything in the poster indicates she could essentially walk into the position of Asgardian princess if she wanted to.
- Clothing represents a means of equality and respect in the “Thor” franchise. In the first movie, Jane was the one who provided Thor with clothing when he had none; initially he wasn’t the most grateful, but eventually he showed gratitude for this. When Jane arrives in Asgard, he presumably offers her the same favor. In both instances, adopting the clothing of the culture in question is required for others to look upon a person as acceptable and/or equal.
Jane Foster emulates Thor in some ways. While she repeatedly stands up to him when he is wrong, the Asgardian dress she wears and even the way she stands in the other still indicates that she is looking to him for social cues and leadership. In “Thor,” he views her as the leader of her group (originally noted and discussed by fostertheory and/or thormovies on Tumblr), and offers her that respect – and in “Thor: The Dark World,” it makes sense that she would do the same. By necessity, Thor took on the subordinate role in the first movie, and now the roles are switched. It is in equal measure, as far as we know.
Let’s not forget Thor’s pose in both of these images. He stands protectively near Jane. Thor is, of course, larger than Jane, and an intimidating, protective character. That said, he assumes a guarded stance without doing anything to make her look particularly weak or inferior. I would imagine he’d stand no differently next to anyone else he was protecting – such as a child, or his mother. And while a warrior like Sif or even a male Avenger might not offer the same pose towards him as Jane or another non-warrior Thor’s pose would not change much.
Jane’s posture is the final point of contention here, as well as the most contrasting between the two images. In the T2 poster, she is clearly accepting Thor’s protection. As we know, the two have had more interaction at this point than they had in the T1 image. The primary difference is this: in the T1 image, it looks as though they are protecting each other. It would have made more sense to show Thor in his Midgardian clothes, but that probably wouldn’t have sold movie tickets, nor would it have displayed a commonly recognized character.
Overall I am fine with Jane needing Thor’s protection for whatever reason and the poster reflecting this, so long as her skill set is adequately used as well. Thor should remain well aware that she’s an asset due to her intelligence as well as her ability to lead and possible even represent Earth’s interests.