It’s still hard to believe Christian Bale is in the MCU. For many, Bale’s take on the caped crusader still looms large, so it might be somewhat bizarre to see him, even after all these years, make a move from DC to Marvel. Considering the number of different actors who have popped up in Marvel movies over the years, it wasn’t a matter of how but when.
Bale’s role in the fourth Thor movie, Love and Thunder, is a juicy one. As Gorr the God Butcher, he certainly lives up to his name, killing many of the MCU’s godly figures, which naturally puts Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on high alert. Created by writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribić, Gorr is a ghostly pale figure who wields the evil Necrosword, which gives him the power to slay gods.
He’s a relatively new villain in the Thor canon (that Aaron/Ribić story debuted in 2012), but one that’s certainly made quite the impact—and to see an actor of Bale’s caliber bring him to life is special. But, as audiences will see in the film on Friday, July 8, his backstory is a tragic one—which makes him more of a sympathetic character than you might imagine.
Ahead of Love and Thunder’s release, Complex sat down with Bale during a virtual press junket to talk about Gorr’s sense of humanity, working with Taika Waititi, Bale’s inspiration for the character, how his kids convinced him to do the movie, and more.
Speaking of Taika, I know his direction style can be a little freewheeling. Was that empowering for you to have the opportunities to kind of try what was on the page and then maybe try a different version or spin up something new on the spot?
CB: I like that a great deal. You know, kind of considering filming as just sort of creating pieces of puzzles that then the director gets to choose what to use in the edit room. I like that approach. You just have to eat it with some of the great stuff that ends up on the cutting room floor.
Was there a specific moment of you improving that actually made it into the movie that you’re particularly proud of? Or is it difficult to remember?
CB: It is tricky to remember because, after a while, you forget what’s in the script and what was not in the script and what you came up with and what Taika was telling me to say off-camera, et cetera, like that. I do remember, though, that [during] the very first three days of filming, Gorr has the ability to make everyone shut up. I did like three days straight of a monologue, which was very brief in the script, but then Taika and I just embellished and he let me just riff and go off.
I had a wonderful time doing that and had no idea how it was being received because none of the other actors could respond to me cause I had them all gagged. I think the message came through loud and clear when none of that ended up in the [laughs], in the final movie.
In preparation for this, I read an interview you did a couple of years after The Dark Knight. At the time, you mentioned your kids didn’t care too much about the Batman movies that you did. Has that attitude changed now that you’re a part of the MCU?
CB: Well, I imagine that nothing is ever as interesting when it’s your own dad right in the middle of it. But, this was actually the first film that I felt like I probably couldn’t manage it despite the fact that I really liked Thor: Ragnorak and Jojo Rabbit and like Taika. Chris kills it as this. Natalie is an incredible talent—I’ve worked with her before—and Tessa is absolutely phenomenal as well. But I felt like, schedule-wise, it just wasn’t gonna work. And my kids did correct me on that and said, “No.” That’s the first time they’ve ever done that. They said, “No, no, no, Dad, you’re gonna find a way, and you’re gonna do this one.”
Check out Bale’s performance as Gorr in Thor: Love & Thunder in theaters on Friday, July 8.