Christian Bale Is Marvel’s Best Baddie Ever?

By Vic Medina | 19 seconds ago

christian bale

Look who just lived long enough to see himself become the villain. Christian Bale, the artist formerly known as Batman, is winning rave reviews for his performance in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. In the film, which opens in theaters on July 8, Bale plays Gorr the God Butcher, who is out to retire Thor permanently in a quest for revenge. This battle leads Chris Hemsworth’s Thor to unite his fellow warriors, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, to stop him. In an interview with Eric Davis of Fandango, director Taika Waititi calls Bale’s Gorr Marvel’s most sympathetic villain and says test audiences rate him the highest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) villain ever, even ahead of Thanos, who had to kill half the universe to earn the title.

Thor: Love and Thunder is reuniting a number of familiar faces for this Phase 4 entry in the MCU, according to The Direct. That includes Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (voiced by director Taika Waititi), Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Of course, we also see Natalie Portman’s return as Jane Foster to the franchise, as she takes Mjölnir and assumes the title of The Mighty Thor, which we’re sure Hemsworth’s Thor will be perfectly fine with. In addition, we see another actor who had previously appeared in the DC movie universe: Russell Crowe, who played Jor-El in Man of Steel and plays Zeus in this film. Add Christian Bale to all of this as a classic villain, and you have the makings of an epic adventure.

While Thor has faced some pretty imposing villains in past films, Bale’s Gorr will be quite different. According to his comic history, as summarized by the Marvel Wiki at Fandom.com, Gorr is out for revenge, looking to kill all the Gods he can find, as he blames them for the horrific deaths of his family. He sets out on his quest after finding the Necrosword, a weapon capable of killing Gods, and Thor is next on his list. According to Waititi, Gorr’s loss is central to the character and will be the reason why moviegoers will find Christian Bale sympathetic. “So I’d say he’s the most sympathetic villain they’ve had,” Waititi says of test audiences’ responses to Gorr in the film. “He’s also tested the highest out of any villain that Marvel’s had.”

It should be noted that in test screenings, held in the weeks and months prior to a film’s release, viewers are asked to fill out cards with their feedback on the film. That helps filmmakers and studios determine if a movie is on the right track and hit the right notes with audiences. Changes are often made to a film if the audience responds too negatively, but in the case of Gorr, it seems audiences really liked what Christian Bale brought to the character.

The response from audiences is echoed by his fellow cast members. In the interview with Erik Davis, Chris Hemsworth says Christian Bale brings “Exactly what you’d want, hope and expect,” to the character of Goor. “Nuance, complexity, depth. A sort of quirkiness to it which I didn’t see on the page and with any sort of classic villain. The fact that you find yourself empathizing, or asking questions that they’re asking, or the ideas that they’re posing. It’s not just stock standards sort of evil.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Tessa Thompson, who claims “You like root for them sometimes. Hate him sometimes.”

Thompson also confirms that Gorr will be defined by his loss, a theme which she connects to Stan Lee’s approach to comics. “Well, it’s also this thing like that Stan Lee talked about, right? Which is that your trauma is the thing that makes you a superhero and a villain, right? It’s just in the case of a villain, it’s unchecked. That your source of pain is what manifests into your villainry.” She also credits how Christian Bale manifests that trauma on-screen. “And I think he captures that so well and he just also was so surprising, you know? It just was so fun to watch and such dexterity and also what he did with his body and he’s really in it and the way that you would assume Christian is but he also has a sense of humor about it.” Hemsworth, however, jokes that the sympathy generated by this trauma is actually working against him personally. “Yeah, it’s just great if you’re playing the hero if everyone’s rooting for the villain.”