Does Natalie Portman have CGI arms in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’?
Considering the broader issues at stake in Thor: Love and Thunder, Natalie Portman’s arms are a rather strange hill to die for. However, there is a growing conspiracy theory that Marvel used CGI (computer-generated imagery) to strengthen Portman’s arm muscles, casting doubt on the publicity surrounding his training program to play Mighty Thor.
Portman’s physical transformation captured attention long before the film’s release, with fans celebrating his buff appearance in trailers and paparazzi pictures from the whole. Honestly, it’s now become an integral part of the MCU’s promotional cycle for actors making their superhero debut.
But unlike Chris Pratt or Kumail Nanjiani, some people simply refuse to believe Portman put on the muscle to Thor: Love and Thunder– a conspiracy theory with fairly obvious sexist overtones. The proof? A behind-the-scenes video in which motion capture points are visible on his arms, suggesting VFX work has been done on his body:
Natalie Portman’s idea of havingCGI Weaponsspread quickly on Twitter and Reddit. However, it should be noted that a) Chris Hemsworth was too photographed with motion capture points while filming MCU movies to give the VFX team the ability to add armor in post-productionand b) people’s muscles don’t always look the same from moment to moment.
The current trend in Hollywood is for action stars to use extreme bodybuilding techniques, often working on set to ensure they look perpetually shredded on screen. In real life, people’s muscles seem flabby when they’re not actively flexing, which is truer for women. For example, female pro wrestlers don’t necessarily look ripped in a casual setting. So it’s no surprise to see a contrast between Hemsworth (the quintessential bodybuilder action star) and Portman (a petite actress who’s temporarily pumped up for a movie). According to interviews, Portman spent 10 months gradually building muscle with trainer Naomi Pendergast.
In the same video in which fans pointed out Portman’s motion-capture points, she has noticeably bigger arms than usual. The same goes for paparazzi photos. That leaves us with two likely options. Either Portman is just flexing for the “hero shots” that got so much attention in the movie…or she put some muscle, which has been digitally enhanced in the same way some films use CGI to correct imperfections in the actors’ skin.
These CGI accusations were dismissed by the film’s producers, giving a different explanation for these motion capture points: Height. Portman is 5’3″, while the Mighty Thor is supposed to be 6ft. “The only thing we helped with was making the Mighty Thor a little taller,” MCU boss Kevin Feige said in an interview with Total movie. “That was the only movie magic we used. Everything else was her.
This sentiment was echoed by producer Brad Winderbaum in a the wall street journal article about Portman’s workout routine, saying, “Natalie has certainly done the work and pumped up for the role, but there’s still nothing she can do to grow 9 inches taller.” It’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for those mo-cap points, but given how conspiracy theories work, it’s unlikely to make much of a difference to people who are already certain Portman’s muscles are fake.
The Daily Dot has contacted representatives for Natalie Portman for comment.
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*First published: July 11, 2022, 8:04 a.m. CDT
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor