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Thor: The Dark World has been getting more attention from MCU fans in recent months thanks to a whole sequence in Avengers: Endgame that revisits it. The film is among the least revered entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it still has its fans, and one of the things worth celebrating about it is how jam-packed it is with Asgardian stuff.
While Thor: Ragnarok jettisoned much of Thor's homeworld in favor of fresh story fodder, The Dark World leans on Asgard, Sif, Dark Elves, Loki's duplicitous nature, Thor's closeness with his mother, and much more. As full as the film is with Asgardian characters and lore, though, it almost featured even more.
Charlie Wen, who was Marvel Studios' head of visual development at the time of the film, recently posted some concept art from the project that revealed another major Asgardian from the world of Marvel Comics nearly made it in: Balder the Brave.
Balder has a Marvel Comics history dating back to 1962. He's Thor's half-brother, something which was only revealed fairly recently, and a loyal fighting companion to the Warriors Three and the God of Thunder. Like his counterpart in Norse mythology, Baldr, it is prophesied that he's the one who will bring about Ragnarok, which leads Odin to concoct magical means of making him invulnerable.
This is, as with most things, complicated by one of Loki's schemes, and along the way Balder briefly spends time in Hel, where he sees the souls of the thousands he's killed as a warrior and swears to never fight again. He hangs around with Thor a lot, though, so he ultimately has to give up that oath and fight alongside his half-brother again.
Balder is one of the most fascinating supporting characters in Thor comics, and having him around in the films could have been a very useful storytelling addition, particularly in the build-up to Ragnarok. Sadly, we have no idea exactly why he never made it to the screen, or even how long he was a part of the production process. He might have just been a stray idea that was being thrown around conceptually. Whatever the case, Wen's art does him justice, and perhaps if Chris Hemsworth gets his way and makes more Thor films, we might yet see Balder roaming among the stars.