In Thor: Love and Thunder, not only is Thor trying to find himself, but he also has to deal with finding closure with his ex, Jane Foster, as well as stopping Gorr the God Butcher from well, butchering all the gods. As the relatively new Marvel character makes the leap from page to screen, albeit, with a different look, Gorr actor Christian Bale and director Taika Waititi filled us in on how Gorr was brought to life in the MCU.
Bale, of course, is no stranger to comic book movies as he played Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It’s also definitely not the first time that Bale has played a “bad guy.” However, it was more than just his previous work that convinced him to dip his toe into the shadowy role of Gorr.
The actor explained to IGN that, alongside Gorr being a “hell of a good character,” his reasons for taking the job were various: Working with Waititi and co-stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tessa Thompson were up there, but he was also impressed by the previous film in the series, Thor: Ragnarok, as well as Waititi’s Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit.
It also probably didn’t hurt that Bale was Waititi’s top choice to bring the villain to life.
“We always want good actors in these roles and, for Marvel, they’ve gone through all the actors. There’s hardly anyone left,” Waititi laughed. “[Bale] was one of the last people on Earth who hadn’t worked with Marvel. I’ve always loved Christian. I’ve always wanted to work with him. I’ve admired his work for many, many years, right from Empire of the Sun. He was actually at the top of our list right from the beginning, and we didn’t ask anyone else. “
For those uninitiated with Gorr’s backstory, the devout believer and his family lived on a desolate planet forsaken by the gods, yet they still depended on their faith to save them. As Gorr’s prayers go unanswered and his family dies, he doubts the existence of gods – only to have that doubt replaced by vengeance when he discovers that they are real and are not the benevolent beings he believed them to be.
For Waititi, bringing Gorr’s backstory and motives were the most important element he wanted to translate from the comics.
“We wanted them to try and create a sort of … sympathetic villain who the audience could understand, and they could not side with, but they could really understand what he was going through,” Waititi said.
“He’s dealing with a great amount of pain,” Bale added. “He is a monster. He is a butcher, as his name suggests. He is a villain. He’s a bad guy. He’s taken his pain and directed it in absolutely the wrong direction. But then we get in a wonderful conflict, in that. case, between Gorr and Thor. “
As for Gorr’s physical appearance, it is definitely a departure from the Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic creation. But there are practical and thematic reasons for it.
“I was coming off of another film, I had zero muscles, and you can’t compete with Chris in that department anyway,” Bale said. “So we decided to go with a different approach of his powers as they’re more supernatural. Losing that g-string as well was a choice. People might want to see Chris’ ass. They don’t want to see mine. And then, yeah, just lots of conversations between myself and Taika about Nosferatu, “Come to Daddy,” the Aphex Twin video. “
And those influences are clear, as Nosferatu and the music video feature skin and bone, bald, pale beings who creep in the shadows.
“In the comics, he obviously looks a certain way, and he’s basically got a mankini on,” Waititi said. “A thought very early on that his face in the comics unfortunately does kind of resemble Voldemort. People are just automatically going to make that connection. So we decided just to depart from that design a bit more, and still keep elements of the tone, and the fact that he had the sword. Really it was about his story. That was the most important thing for us. “
These choices to keep Gorr more human-looking grounds his appearance in the idea of a devout follower practicing religious fasting in order to feel closer to a higher being. The addition of the tattoos and subsequent scars on Gorr’s face help reinforce that idea.
“He’s a highly religious character at the beginning with tattoos displaying his piousness, and then he becomes disillusioned with that, and then literally just mutilates himself to get rid of that,” Bale said. “We did shoot that. It was perhaps a little bit too extreme to be included in the film, but there was a lot of wonderful stuff that we shot.”
“We didn’t show it or over-explain it, but you know even the scars on his head and stuff like that, you get the idea that the tattoos that they have are all in reverence, and in honor of their gods, and that he carved those out, and stuff like that, “Waititi added. “And then with the robe and everything, I really liked that it was like a holy man who had lost his faith.”
The argument for faithful adaptation will always rage on, but in Thor: Love and Thunder, Gorr’s pain and betrayal are conveyed much more clearly when the story is told through a man who has twice forever scarred his skin and has wasted away spending energy praying to selfish gods, rather than one who is a chiseled space-Voldemort.
What do you think about the live-action adaptation of Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder? Let us know in the comments. And for more, be sure to check out our Thor: Love and Thunder review, our explainer of the ending, and the film’s stars on acting in the MCU and the mighty return of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster.
Francesca Rivera is Video Producer at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @fbrivera.
Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.