It turns out we were completely wrong. When news first broke about Christian Bale in talks to join Thor: Love and Thunder, we speculated wildly about who he might play. We found out the answer from Disney’s investor call Thursday: Bale will be playing the flick’s main villain, Gorr the God Butcher.
This is a bit of a surprise choice, as you can see from our very well thought out speculation being completely wrong. Gorr the God Butcher is a relatively new addition to the Asgardian mythos in the Marvel Universe, having been created by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic in the pages of 2012’s Thor: God of Thunder. But if you’re looking for big, thematic foils…he’s still a surprise choice, to be honest.
Gorr was once a poor, downtrodden alien living on a desolate world. He prayed constantly to improve his station in life. His parents died, he married, fathered children, and still lived constantly on the brink of starvation. And eventually, his nuclear family started dying off: first, losing his pregnant wife in an earthquake, then losing kids one at a time until his final child starved to death. The gods never answered his prayers, and he took to blasphemy, getting himself tossed from his village. While wandering his desert world, Gorr stumbled across a titanic fight in his sky, and tracked the combatants to the crater they fell in: two gods had nearly smote each other before his very eyes. One, majestic and clad in gold, was barely alive and turned to Gorr for help.
It…didn’t go well.
Gorr took the black sword from the golden one’s collapsed opponent and used it to butcher the golden one to death. His new sword, named All-Black the Necrosword (metal as all hell), gave him the power to travel the cosmos, and he did, killing any and every god he could get his hands on.
Eventually he would come into conflict with Thor, facing him three times over the course of thousands of years. The first was when Thor was young, and Thor barely escaped with his life. The second was in the present day of the Marvel Universe, when Thor would team with versions of himself pulled from the timestream to defuse Gorr’s universe-spanning Godbomb and kill the God Butcher himself. The third was at the end of time, resurrected by an All-Black-infected Loki for a final battle with Thor Allfather.
Each time, he left a mark on Thor and Thor’s universe. The first encounter helped young Thor grow from a callow dickhead and put him on a path to true heroism. The last showed Thor the universe he had helped to remake. And the second encounter, the one in present day, was the inciting event behind Thor being deemed unworthy to wield Mjolnir. This led to Jane Foster hoisting the hammer and taking the mantle of Thor, something we know will be happening in Thor: Love and Thunder.
One thing that I think we can all be certain won’t migrate from the comics to the movie is all the symbiote nonsense. Deep breath, everyone: it was later retconned that the dark god Gorr found in battle on his homeworld was actually Knull the God of the Symbiotes and progenitor of the alien suit that would eventually become Venom, spawn Carnage and countless others, and is currently ravaging the Marvel cosmos in the comics. Yes. All-Black the Necrosword is just Sword Venom. I’m almost certain that will be edited out.
So why is Taika Waititi, the director notorious for bringing Kirby-esque cosmic colors and style (not to mention a particular sense of humor) to Thor: Ragnarok using a villain with such heavy themes for Thor: Love and Thunder? Well, for one thing, there’s the aforementioned Jane Foster connection. For another, Aaron and Ribic’s Thor arc is one of the greatest runs in the history of the character. While we likely won’t get something with the kind of heavy metal intensity that permeated every page of that series, Waititi is such a brilliant filmmaker that he’s bound to keep some of the weightier themes that come with the character in place.
Thor: Love and Thunder opens on Feb. 11, 2022.