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SYFY WIRE Thor: Love and Thunder

Christian Bale had no clue what the MCU was before being cast in 'Thor: Love and Thunder'

"I'm like, 'The MCU?' I had to ask what that was."

By Josh Weiss
Christian Bale as Gorr in Thor: Love and Thunder

Before he could butcher some gods, Christian Bale needed to learn about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Speaking with Total Film, the comic book movie alum admitted that he had no idea what the acronym "MCU" stood for before signing up to play the dreaded Gorr in Thor: Love and Thunder (in theaters July 8). "People would go, 'Oh, look at this! He's entered the MCU!' And I'd go, 'I've done what? I haven't entered s---, thank you very much,'" the actor recalled. "I'm like, 'The MCU?' I had to ask what that was."

Created by the duo of writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribić in the pages of Thor: God of Thunder #2, Gorr the God Butcher started life as an alien of faith before swearing eternal vengeance against the gods when these supposedly omnipotent entities failed to save his loved ones. Bonding with the very first Symbiote in all of existence, the villain gained weapons like All-Black the Necrosword, an object capable of slaying eternal beings. To embody the character — who only just showed up in the marketing materials for Love and Thunder — Bale took inspiration from classic movie monsters and an '80s-era musician who recently gained renewed popularity via Stranger Things 4.

"There's obviously sort of a Nosferatu slight attitude," Bale said. "[Writer/director Taika Waititi] and I wanted to do a whole dance, which we didn't get to do, but we had all this sort of Kate Bush stuff that we worked at. But I think he just realized he was never going to be allowed to put that in the final film."

He continued: "I did make the mistake of googling him and, oh no! [In the comics] he runs around in a G-string all the time. And I thought, 'They don't have the right man for that!'" Fortunately, Waititi nixed the G-string. "But I always did think what he could do with this in front of a blue screen. He could chuck on whatever he wants later on."

Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor's fourth cinematic outing finds the titular Asgardian (once again played by Chris Hemsworth) traversing the cosmos with the ever-lovable Guardians of the Galaxy. He wants nothing more than to give up his superhero mantle, but finds himself sucked back into action when Gorr starts picking off the gods, one-by-one. He's got the help of old allies — like King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Waititi) — and some unexpected ones like Jane Foster (Natalie Portman in her first MCU role since The Dark World), who shows up wielding Thor's hammer.

"We had a lot of fun exploring that, and answering a lot of the unanswered questions from the second film [onwards], when they parted ways," Hemsworth explained to Total Film. "That was left pretty open, and up for interpretation, as far as: Who dumped who? What actually happened there? Did they keep in contact? What were their feelings about how that all ended? We had some good times diving into all of that."

Oscar-winner Russell Crowe rounds out the ensemble cast as the bearded ruler of Mount Olympus, Zeus. Hemsworth executive produced the film alongside Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brian Chapek, and Todd Hallowell. Kevin Feige and Brad Winderbaum are producers.

Thor: Love and Thunder heads for the big screen Friday, July 8.

Thor: Love and Thunder is one of many big blockbusters expected to light up the box office this summer. Jurassic World Dominion is out now, and Jordan Peele's sci-fi horror mystery Nope opens July 22 in theaters.