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Thor 4: Love and Thunder: Christian Bale's possible role, Guardians of the Galaxy, release date

Dark Knight Christian Bale takes a walk on the dark side as a Thor villain, plus the Guardians of the Galaxy have been confirmed to make an appearance.

2019 Comic-Con International - Marvel Studios Panel

Natalie Portman wields Mjolnir at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019.

Getty Images

Thor movies have quickly become some of the most exciting titles in the MCU. Not only is the Hawaiian shirt-wearing Taika Waititi back to direct his second Thor movie after the brilliant Thor: Ragnarok, but Christian Bale is set to play a villain, the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to make an appearance, and Natalie Portman is going to play another Thor.

Thor: Love and Thunder, the playfully-named fourth in the series, will also see beloved hero and video game master Korg return, who of course is played by Waititi.

Let's unpack everything we know about Thor: Love and Thunder below.

(Read: Thor: Love and Thunder en español.)

Who could Christian Bale play?

The last time Christian Bale buffed up for a superhero movie was for The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. We learned from Collider in early January that he's in talks to play a role in the next Thor, but neither he nor Marvel have commented yet on what that superhero or non-superhero could be.

Thankfully, Tessa Thompson, aka Valkyrie, has provided an answer: Bale will take a walk on the dark side as a villain. "Christian Bale is going to play our villain which is going to be fantastic," Thompson said in March.

When the news of Bale's involvement was first announced, the front-runner for that character seemed to be Beta Ray Bill, an alien cyborg with horse-like features who can match Thor in hand-to-hand combat. While it would be fascinating to see Bale in Thor garb, let alone with horse features, this role has the potential to be a voice part, à la Bradley Cooper as Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy. To dive deep into the speculation, head to CNET sister site ComicBook.com.

There will be two Thors

We learned a few details at Comic-Con 2019 about the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. But we've since learned that her female version of Thor won't be exclusively taking over the Thor mantle. She'll be a Thor alongside Hemsworth's original Thor, and her name will be Mighty Thor.

"[She's] a Thor. There's still the other Thor, the original Thor [played by Hemsworth]," Waititi told Entertainment Tonight at D23. "She's not called Female Thor. In the comics, she's called the Mighty Thor. It comes from that comic run. I couldn't be more happy and excited."

Taika Waititi returns

2019 Comic-Con International - Marvel Studios Panel

Taika Waititi presents Portman Mjolnir at San Diego Comic-Con.

Getty Images

Waititi and Chris Hemsworth had been discussing where Thor could go ever since they reinvented the hero into practically an outright comedy character in Thor: Ragnarok. Days before Marvel's Comic-Con panel, it came out that Thor 4 would be happening with Waititi returning to both direct and write. The film would be playfully titled Thor: Love and Thunder, suggesting more psychedelic costumes, music and comedy are on the way.

Thank the Norse gods Waititi did come back. Hemsworth's contract ran out after Avengers: Endgame, but he noted that if the right script came along, he would be sold to play the Norse god for a ninth time. Waititi brought that script.

In October, Waititi told watchers of Jimmy Kimmel that his character Korg, aka the best bro Thor could have, will return for the fourth instalment. Any sidekick who supplies free Wi-Fi is worth having around.

Natalie Portman is female Thor

Natalie Portman is going to play female Thor in Thor 4. Her response to the Comic-Con announcement is pretty darn good.

"Remember this as the before picture for when I get jacked," she wrote on Instagram with a picture of her on stage with Mjolnir, Thor's enchanted hammer.

Those aware of the controversy surrounding Portman's hiatus from the MCU probably didn't see this one coming. After playing Thor's girlfriend Jane Foster in 2011's Thor and 2013's Thor: The Dark World, Portman was absent from Thor: Ragnarok, reportedly because Marvel gave the screenwriters permission to write a story that didn't include Earth-based characters. How did they paper over her disappearance?

In 2017's Thor: Ragnarok, the break up happens off screen. Thor encounters a group of fangirls while he and Loki search for Odin in New York. The girls mentions they heard Jane dumped Thor, and he yells that he was the one who dumped her. That's it.

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A poster for Thor: The Dark World.

Marvel

So basically, Thor and Jane broke up.

The news may have come as a surprise since most traditional superheroes fall in love and remain with their partners for good (unless one of them dies).

For her part, Portman seemed well and truly done with the character.

"As far as I know, I'm done," she told The Wall Street Journal in 2016. "I don't know if maybe one day they'll ask for an Avengers 7 or whatever, I have no idea. But as far as I know, I'm done."

Three years later, Portman stepped out on stage at Comic-Con, where Waititi handed her Thor's hammer. In introducing her, he said, "When we were shooting Ragnarok, I was reading one storyline by Jason Aaron called The Mighty Thor, and for those of you who know that storyline, it's incredible, it's full of emotion and love and thunder. And it introduces for the first time, female Thor.

"For us, there's only one person who could play that role."

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Lady Thor from the Marvel Comics storyline The Goddess of Thunder.

Marvel Comics

How Jane Foster becomes female Thor

Comic book writer Jason Aaron relaunched the Thor comic book series with Thor: God of Thunder in 2012. In 2014, he brought The Goddess of Thunder, the first of an eight-issue storyline focused on "new Thor," a mysterious woman who turns out to be none other than Jane Foster.

The storyline follows the original Thor at a point when he's no longer worthy enough to wield Mjolnir, his trademark magical hammer. This leaves Asgardia vulnerable, until a new Thor proves herself worthy of taking up the hammer. She becomes the Goddess of Thunder, and fights Frost Giants attacking Earth. It leads to a Thor vs. Thor situation, while everyone tries to figure out who the new Thor is.

First official LGBTQ hero

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Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok.

Marvel

Tessa Thompson made her own big announcement among the many at Marvel's Comic-Con 2019 panel. When asked on stage what her character Valkyrie's first decision would be as King of New Asgard, Thompson answered, "First of all, as New King, she needs to find her Queen. That would be her first order of business. She has some ideas."

The MCU has hinted at LGBTQ characters before. Well, one LGBTQ character in Avengers: Endgame. After the Snap, Captain America holds a counseling session for those affected. A character credited as "grieving man," played by co-director Joe Russo, brings up his date with another man.

Thompson had already confirmed that Valkyrie, like in the comics, is bisexual.

A scene filmed for Thor: Ragnarok showed a woman walking out of Valkyrie's bedroom, but it was cut "because it distracted from the scene's vital exposition," Thompson told Collider in 2017.

After the Comic-Con panel, Kevin Feige confirmed to io9, "The answer is yes," when asked if Valkyrie would have an LGBTQ storyline. "How that impacts the story remains to be seen with that level of representation you'll see across our films, not in just Thor 4."

People (on Twitter) have some ideas about who should be Valkyrie's queen. (Thor handed the legendary warrior the reins to Asgard before he went off galavanting with the Guardians of the Galaxy.) Candidates include: Female Thor and Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel.

Plot and release date

We know the release date is Nov. 5, 2021. But maybe a more crucial point is that Thor: Love and Thunder, if nothing is shifted, will be the last film in Phase Four. It will directly follow the Hawkeye Disney Plus series starring Jeremy Renner, but the next movie it will follow is the Doctor Strange sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Spider-Man: Far From Home, the last film in Phase Three, explored a world post-Blip (the five years that passed since people disappeared and returned from the Snap). So Thor 4 may have to deal with the aftermath of events in Doctor Strange 2. Those events could be immensely complicated, given the full on embrace of the multiverse. Or, given that the Disney Plus shows look to tie in to the movies (and therefore entice people to sign up to Disney's streaming platform) events in Hawkeye may also affect the plot of Thor 4.

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Thor, Star-Lord and Gamora.

Marvel

But this is all speculation of course. Other than that, Thompson commented at Comic-Con on what Valkyrie might be up to other than finding her Queen: "Asgard is not a place but a people. I think just reinvesting in her people. A cool thing is to create refuge for any person that might need it. That to me is the idea of a perfect Asgard."

As for Thor's adventuring with the Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn cleared up the question of whether Thor 4 happens before or after that.

"Before," Gunn replied to a fan in the comments on his Instagram post celebrating Avengers: Endgame finally overtaking Avatar as the biggest movie of all time.

Excitingly, the Guardians of the Galaxy have been confirmed to appear in Thor 4 by one Vin Diesel (the voice of old, teenage and baby Groot).

"The director talked to me about Thor will incorporate some of the Guardians of the Galaxy," Diesel said. "That'll be very interesting, nobody knows, maybe I shouldn't have said anything."

We're glad he spoke up, especially since there could have been a complication with separating Thor from the Guardians: He seemed set to travel with them, and an alternate timeline Gamora, at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Now we wait for word on whether Thor will still be careening around with the Guardians in Guardians 3.

Hemsworth is fairly busy too, set to play Hulk Hogan in an upcoming biopic, as well as starring in Thor 4 and being involved in Marvel's What If... animated TV series. But who knows, Marvel might just send people into a frenzy all over again by making a big Guardians announcement.

Thankfully, while we wait for Thor 4, there's plenty more Marvel goodness to keep us going. Or just go back and watch the 23 previous films!

Note: This article was originally published July 23, 2019 and will be updated as news rolls in.

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