Despite playing Batman in three of the best superhero movies of all time, Christian Bale isn’t a fan of films about caped crusaders. He once told Collider that he hasn’t seen any Marvel movies and that he had no interest in being a part of the franchise either. Well, that appears to have changed, as The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the actor is in talks to join Thor: Love and Thunder.
Details about his proposed role in Taika Waititi’s sequel are being kept close to the vest for now, but should Bale sign up, he’ll unite with an ensemble cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tessa Thompson. There have also been rumors of a transgender actor joining the cast, possibly to play Sera, as the folks over at Disney are making efforts to diversify the MCU’s roster of heroes on the screen.
Assuming that Bale joins the franchise, he won’t be the first actor to make a u-turn. For example, Chris Pratt once confessed to originally turning down the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, though his reasons weren’t based on apathy toward superhero movies. Chris Evans also initially refused the Captain America part because he wasn’t a fan of the comic books at the time. Matt Damon even rejected the role of Daredevil, only to make a cameo appearance in Thor: Ragnarok (but not as Daredevil, unfortunately).
Every actor has their own reasons for giving into the lure of the MCU, but Bale joining shouldn’t be all that surprising. The actor has already shown a willingness to portray a caped crusader on the screen, and he isn’t exactly a stranger to starring in franchise fare and blockbusters in general.
At the same time, the actor is also quite picky about his projects, which makes this development seem unexpected. He’s spent the past several years starring in prestigious movies and working with auteurs. Even his recent larger-scale projects aren’t of the popcorn variety, except for maybe Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Still, that movie is much darker than your average Jungle Book adaptation and it’s easy to see why it appealed to Bale.
Perhaps Bale’s decision to join the MCU is based on a desire to do something fun and different. He has a reputation for playing damaged, brooding characters in serious movies, so maybe he wants to buck that trend and show people that he’s game for some silliness. Then again, maybe he’s keen on having an easier day at the office, having undergone some massive body transformations for roles as recent as last year’s Vice, which saw him lose hair and put on some pounds.
Of course, Bale might look at Waititi and be reminded of what motivated him to accept the Batman gig all those years ago. Like Christopher Nolan, Waititi is a filmmaker with a unique style, which he applied to a very commercial blockbuster with Thor: Ragnarok. While that movie is nothing like the Dark Knight trilogy, it’s similar in the sense that it’s a genre deconstruction that boasts an original vision behind the camera. Those are the kinds of blockbusters that Bale can get behind.
That said, there is also the possibility that Bale finally watched some of the Marvel movies, realized that they’re good, and decided that he could play a part in them someday. He also has children, so maybe he wanted to star in a movie that they could enjoy seeing their dad in. No child wants to watch their father play Dick Cheney after all.
Until Bale opens up about his reasons for joining Love and Thunder, fans won’t know what inspired his change of heart. However, the real big question is: which character from Marvel’s illustrious roster will he play?
According to the rumor mill, he’s in talks to portray Beta Ray Bill, an intense mutant horse who is capable of wielding the hammer Mjolnir. He is a notable character in the Thor comics, and the MCU has already hinted at him making an appearance eventually. The character was cut from Thor: Ragnarok, but his face appears on the monument that highlights Sakaar’s former gladiatorial champions. Bale playing this role straight-faced in a Waititi comedy would be very entertaining.
Last year, THR speculated that Mangog could also feature in Love and Thunder as a villain. The entity embodies the hatred of a “billion beings” and is practically indestructible. He has a beef with Asgard as well, having been thwarted by Odin in the past. Bale has a temper and is more than capable of channeling that anger on the screen. If Mangog does appear, Bale would do the character justice.
There is also the chance that he could play the Silver Surfer. Adam McKay has been associated with helming a movie about the character for a while now, and he wants Bale to star in the titular role. Given that Bale and McKay have worked together before, the actor might be inclined to reteam with the director. Silver Surfer is also the kind of superhero movie that Bale could get behind as he’s a known environmental activist, and McKay wants the movie to explore the theme of climate change.
Furthermore, as one of Marvel’s cosmic characters, it makes sense to debut the Surfer in a Thor movie. He is also one of the most interesting figures in the comics as he’s served as both a hero and a villain. The MCU loves to introduce new characters as villains before turning them into heroes, and Bale is an actor who excels at playing tortured souls who are a little bit of both. The Surfer appearing soon can also pave the way for the inevitable Fantastic Four movie.
It remains to be seen if Bale will even sign on the dotted line to appear in Love and Thunder. If he does, he’ll make a fine addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and prove that anything is possible when it comes to this franchise. Who knows: maybe Martin Scorsese will even choose to direct one of these movies someday now that Bale has shown that naysayers can be converted?