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Thor: Love and Thunder is poised to introduce a number of new elements to the Marvel Cinematic Universe later this summer, and one of the most intriguing is Gorr the God Butcher, a villain played by Christian Bale who will challenge Thor in ways he's never been challenged before. Now, writer/director Taika Waititi is hyping up the character and his arc within the MCU, calling him the "most sympathetic" antagonist in the universe so far.
In a wide-ranging new interview with Fandango (which you can watch in its entirety below) previewing Love and Thunder, which opened ticket sales this week, Waititi and stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) praised Bale's performance as Gorr, an alien who decides to launch a campaign of vengeance against all gods, and teased that he'll offer some unexpected and surprisingly relatable work to MCU fans.
"I'd say he's the most sympathetic villain they've had," Waititi said. "He's also tested the highest out of any villain that Marvel's had."
Introduced in Thor: God of Thunder #2 in 2012, Gorr is a member of an alien race who faced extreme hardship throughout his early life. In the comics, he was orphaned as a boy, fought his way to adulthood, then lost his entire family to natural disasters and starvation, leaving him to believe that the gods his people worshipped did not exist. When he unexpectedly encountered actual gods in the midst of a battle, Gorr was shocked, then disgusted when one of the wounded gods dared to ask him for help. With the hypocrisy of gods firmly set in his mind, Gorr took up the weapon known as All-Black the Necrosword and vowed to kill every god in the universe, which eventually put him face-to-face with Thor.
While we don't know the ways in which Gorr's MCU story might differ from his comic book origins just yet, the villain's arc as anti-deity zealot fits in nicely with the sort of existential crisis Thor himself seems to be bound for in Love and Thunder, and according to Hemsworth, Bale brought "exactly what you'd hope and expect" to the film's set.
"Nuance, complexity, depth, a sort of quirkiness to it which I didn't see on the page," Hemsworth said. "With any sort of classic villain, the fact that you find yourself empathizing or asking questions that they're asking or ideas that they're posing…it's not just a stock standard sort of villain."
Thompson added, "It's also this thing that Stan Lee talked about, which is that your trauma is the thing that makes you both a superhero and a villain. It's just in the case of a villain it's unchecked. Your source of pain is what manifests into your villainry, and I think he captures that so well."
Thor: Love and Thunder crashes into theaters 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.