By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist December 14, 2011 at 6:09PM
Signing up to a Marvel movie has to be a heavy undertaking these days. Famed for being financially thrifty, creatively controlling and normally insistent on constrictive multi-film deals, they might have proved successful with their times at bat so far, but having already estranged Jon Favreau and Mickey Rourke, among others, the studio have now allegedly managed to alienate arguably the biggest star not named Robert Downey Jr. in their stable.
Eyebrows were raised a few weeks back when "Monster" helmer Patty Jenkins, the surprise choice to helm the sequel to this year's top superhero movie "Thor," departed the project over the always-popular 'creative differences.' The studio have moved quickly to replace her, considering TV helmers Daniel Minahan and Alan Taylor for the gig (with no decision yet made), but in the process, according to The Hollywood Reporter, they've seemingly managed to piss off Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, who was set to topline the sequel.
Supposedly, Portman's been ambivalent about returning to acting at all after the birth of her child earlier in the year, but had been enthused by the idea of working with Jenkins, who would have been the first woman to direct a superhero movie. When Jenkins was, according to the trade's sources, fired without warning, Portman was reportedly extremely upset. And now Marvel has an Oscar-winning megastar on their hands, contractually obliged to return for the film, but with no real desire to.
Reports on the reasons behind Jenkins' firing differ; a source close to the studio says that she was axed because she was being indecisive, and they became concerned with making their November 2013 release date, although, as the trade points out, what Jenkins was meant to decide while Don Payne's script was being subjected to a studio-mandated rewrite isn't clear. Furthermore, it was apparently Jenkins' clear vision for the project that won her the gig -- and Portman's approval -- in the first place.
Additionally, someone presumably close to Jenkins' camp says that it was the studio being indecisive, not Jenkins; having intially been convinced she was the right choice thanks to Portman, they got cold feet later on. Either way, the star, who picked up her Oscar for "Black Swan" in between shooting "Thor" and its release, is not a happy bunny, and Marvel are seemingly on the charm offensive to win her around again, including consulting her on Jenkins' replacement.
We'd expect to hear a new choice of writer and director on the project soon, but as long as Portman doesn't go with Ivan Reitman or Don Roos, we'll be happy. "Thor 2" will hit theaters, possibly with a phoned-in performance from the actress, on November 15th, 2013. No news if Chris Hemsworth's input has been taken on board yet.