Dr. Jane Foster Joins the MCU’s Many Superpowered Scientists

It’s not always a lab accident, but scientists with PhDs often seem to end up with superpowers. And a lot of times it is due to unethical behavior, questionable funding sources, and even illegal human experimentation. One of the best moments in Thor: Love and Thunder is our new superhero’s refusal to be called “Lady Thor.” It’s Mighty Thor, or Dr. Jane Foster. She is the latest to join the club of highly-educated people with remarkable abilities. Let’s meet some of the others.

Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor in Love and Thunder harnessing lightning
Marvel Studios
Dr. Bruce Banner

With an MD and 7 PhDs, Banner is a standout even among this crowd. The military exploited his expertise in gamma radiation to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. Believing it was for a higher purpose, he experimented on himself (still not legal or a good idea). Out came the Hulk, which gave him super strength and healing powers. Banner eventually managed to fuse with this with his intellect to achieve the best of both worlds. His other contributions to the Avengers include work on artificial intelligence, time travel, and lots of laboratory technobabble. 

Smart Hulk in Avengers: Endgame
Marvel Studios
Dr. Erik Stevens

Also known as Erik Killmonger or N’Jadaka. He becomes the Black Panther for a time, gaining the superpowers that go along with that honor. In the MCU, we at least know that he went to MIT for graduate school. In the comics, it’s more clearly stated that he has both a PhD in engineering and an MBA. Though not mentioned in the MCU, his rival T’Challa also has advanced degrees in the comics. Either way, it’s Dr. Black Panther.

Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger in Black Panther
Marvel Studios
Dr. Hank Pym

The original Ant-Man, Pym is apparently both an entomologist and physicist. He creates and dons the super-suit thanks to Pym Particle technology that shrinks the space in between molecules. While there are undoubtedly people on Earth who specialize in subjects as diverse as bugs and physics, Pym’s knowledge of engineering, technology, and business are truly all-encompassing. His protégé Dr. Darren Cross continues the research, creating super soldier-like suits.

Michael Douglas as Hank Pym in Ant-Man
Drs. Otto Octavius and Norman Osborn

Doc Ock and Green Goblin are from a different Earth and only recently joined the MCU in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Both of these allegedly smart people were victims of avoidable lab incidents. They gain superpowers but lose rational thought and end up as villains.

Spilt screen of Otto Octavius and Norman Osborn's alter ego the Green Goblin in Spider-Man: No Way Home
Drs. Charles Xavier and Reed Richards

While we’re on the subject of people from other Earths, let’s not forget 838’s Professor X and Mr. Fantastic. Though neither’s credentials are explicitly stated in the MCU yet, Richards is introduced as “the smartest man alive” and Xavier as “professor.” It’s not a huge stretch to assume they have the same advanced degrees as they do in the comics and other movie iterations.

Split screen of Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and John Krasinski as Reed Richards in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Marvel Studios
Dr. Jane Foster

Mighty Thor has mighty powers, including strength, harnessing lightning, and making Stormbreaker jealous. With her, Mjolnir also has some new abilities, breaking apart to hit multiple targets at once. But she’s still workshopping her catch phrase. Foster has a PhD in astrophysics and was at one point even being considered for the Nobel Prize in physics. She deserves every statue built to honor her.

Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor in Love and Thunder
Marvel Studios

Welcome to the club, Dr. Foster!

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. At eight years old, she was correcting people to call her mother Dr. Kelley. Melissa also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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