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Thor: Love And Thunder's Gorr The God Butcher Got A Stunning Reaction From Test Audiences

The reinvention of the MCU's God of Thunder could not have been possible without the invigorating direction of Taika Waititi. After cutting his teeth on "Flight of the Conchords" and "What We Do in the Shadows," Waititi first brought his unique flavor to Marvel in "Thor: Ragnarok," a film notable not only for showing a down-on-his-luck god trying to find his place in the universe, but also facing off against a truly memorable foe, with the inspired casting of Cate Blanchett as Hela. That's no small success in a franchise loaded with memorable movie villains, from cosmic conquerors like Thanos (Josh Brolin) to blue collar bad guys like the Vulture (Michael Keaton).

While Hela is a tough villain to top, it seems that Waititi's next antagonist might set the standard even higher — because this time, Thor and friends will be up against none other than Christian Bale as the formidable Gorr the God Butcher, a fan-favorite foe from the comics. 

Already, fans have a lot to say about the character from his brief appearance in the trailer, but according to the filmmakers, test audiences have been even more enthusiastic about him, and here's why.

Make way for Marvel's most sympathetic villain to date

Christian Bale is no stranger to complex material. A veteran in the entertainment industry, the seasoned actor has starred in countless movies, ranging from gritty art films to sci-fi blockbusters, so it should not be shocking to learn that his role as Gorr impressed everyone from co-stars to audiences. 

In an exclusive interview with Fandango, Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, and Tessa Thompson could not stop singing Bale's praises, pointing out that the actor's angle on the villainous character — which Hemsworth praised both for its nuance and "quirkiness" — is one for the ages. And while diabolical villains have driven the past 10 years of ensemble films, there is something different about Gorr — because instead of the relatively straightforward desire to destroy half of all life, Gorr the God Butcher offers an alternative perspective on the notion of gods and deities. Waititi and Thompson quickly agreed that Bale's performance was thought-provoking. 

However, it wasn't just the professionals on set that loved the live-action interpretation of the character. "He's the most sympathetic villain [Marvel has] had," Waititi mentioned. "He's also tested the highest out of any villain that Marvel's had." 

For comic readers, this checks out: Gorr's life is one marred with tragedy, and his conclusion about gods — and the notion that they are at best indifferent, and at worst sadistic — is shockingly logical. As Thompson notes in the interview, Gorr is a pure manifestation of the classic Marvel notion that both heroes and villains arise from trauma, and what separates them is how they respond to their inner pain.

Gorr may have more to teach Thor than some realize when the film hits theaters on July 8, 2023.