Natalie Portman is Marvel Studios’ new Thor and Mahershala Ali is Blade

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is expanding.
Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is expanding.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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San Diego Comic-Con, once a gathering of unknown and socially awkward comic book nerds. Now it’s a Hollywood mainstay. On July 20, the convention featured A-list Hollywood actors, including Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, Mahershala Ali, Kumail Nanjiani, Scarlett Johansson, and Salma Hayek, announcing and discussing their upcoming roles in Marvel Studios’ films.

Marvel, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, is seeing billion-dollar success with its interwoven live-action renditions of comic-book derived characters and plots. It’s known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and includes no fewer than 23 feature films. More are on the way.

Natalie Portman as Thor

A new Thor movie is now on the docket Thor: Love and Thunder. This time Natalie Portman will play the superhero, a hammer-wielding goddess of thunder. Portman will be acting alongside Chris Hemsworth (the star of the three prior Thor movies) and Tessa Thompson. It will be directed by Taiki Wiatiti and include the first LGBTQ superhero in the MCU.

Mahershala Ali’s surprise entrance as Blade

Surprising attendees, the two-time Oscar-winning actor Ali showed up at Comic-Con, unannounced and wearing a baseball hat with the logo for Blade. He will be playing the film title’s eponymous role, a half-vampire who fights alongside mortals. It’s a part originally played by Wesley Snipes in 1998. The film’s released date hasn’t yet been announced.

Angelina Jolie in The Eternals

Angelina Jolie promised the 6,500 Marvel fans who gathered to hear her speak that she’s putting her all into her role in The Eternals, a story about a group of immortal aliens set for release in November 2020. “I’m going to work 10 times harder. We all know what the task is ahead, and we know what you deserve, and so we are all going to be working very hard so I am in training and thrilled.” Jolie was joined by Nanjiani and Hayek, who will also appear in the new film.

Scarlett Johansen pumps “Black Widow”

Scarlett Johansen attended the convention to promote her Marvel movie, Black Widow, which is scheduled to be released in May 2020. Her character has appeared before in numerous MCU films, but this is the first stand-alone film to focus on the superhero. Johansen said that having a film for her character was “mind blowing” and added, “I hope it adds a gritty kind of groundedness, that’s like a good punch in the gut, and a literal punch in the gut too! We all get the crap beaten out of us!”

Even more new Marvel movies

The announcements includes some totally new projects, not just sequels and spinoffs. The studio also says it is creating its first horror movie with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, to be directed by Scott Derrickson. It’s also planning to create television programming for Disney.