When Christian Bale was announced to be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, cine buffs could fathom what he would be bringing to the franchise. After all, we have seen him ace his characters in not one but several films. The Hollywood star's explosive renditions of pop culture and camouflaging impressions have left a lasting impact on the fans. Vice, The Fighter, Rescue Dawn, The Machinist and American Psycho are only a few examples to prove his versatility. The actor has knocked the stuffing out of hundreds of characters across genres to exceptional critical and commercial victory. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, in which he plays Bruce Wayne/Batman, probably tops the list of his fan-favourite characters. Hence, it was only reasonable to deem that he would be tackling his MCU debut as no one before him. And he did it and how!
Christian Bale is remarkable as Gorr The God Butcher
Bale once again veiled himself as the ominous Gorr of Marvel who seeks to slaughter the Gods across universes and realms. He is one of the most scary-looking villains in MCU. Bald head, sunken eyes, hideous teeth, screechy voice and a rugged veil gave him a guise of a tortured soul who only operated like an abusive persecutor to mask his despair. Somehow, Bale portrays a villain going through the various stages of grief and makes Gorr sympathetic. Though the film is not the best from MCU, Bale treats the character with the gravity it deserved. He precisely embodied a man on the edge, capable of everything and by any means.
An actor such as Bale and a character such as Gorr need fleshed-out moments that could establish the villainous aura that the actor is capable of bringing to the table but sadly, Taika Waiti was more interested in on-your-face jokes rather than well-rounded character arcs in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Even though Gorr was not explored to its full potential in the film, Bale took over the scenes every time he was allowed the space for it. Given how MCU is on a spree of releases with multiple films and web series lined up, if a spin-off is made with Gorr as the central character and Bale as the lead, it could turn out to be the franchise's craziest outing so far.
Christian Bale's revolutionising Batman
Bale embodying a comic book character with finesse was not unpredictable. His and Nolan's interpretation of Batman still stands out even though there have been multiple spin-offs, the character has been revamped by multiple actors and so on. But, they couldn't depart without a comparison with Bale. There have been multiple renditions of the caped crusader but none have been as complete exploration as The Dark Knight trilogy.
Bale's compulsion, strengthened by the severity that Nolan brought to the character, earned the duo and the trilogy millions of loyal fans. They made Batman look so alluring, troubled and tarry that the film continues to make an impression even a decade after its release.
It’s a rarity when an actor's contribution to a character revolutionises its entire trajectory. Starting with 'Batman Begins' and most notably in 'The Dark Knight', Bale and Nolan grounded the character in a level of realism the comic book movie genre rarely witnesses. Bale's serious approach was the opposite of the campier take on Batman as seen in Joel Schumacher's 'Batman Forever' and 'Batman & Robin'. Looking back at things, it seems unlikely that someone could doubt his Batman. But they did!
"I would (tell people) we're going to sort of do Batman, but take him seriously. I had tons of people laugh at me and just say, 'Well, that's just not going to work at all'," Bale told The Washington Post.
The adulation for the films also translated to the box office. As per Box Office Mojo Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises have earned over USD 205 mn, USD 448 mn and USD 533 mn respectively. Now, it remains to be seen how Love: Thor and Thunder will perform at the ticket window. Even though Christian Bale doesn't get enough support from the screenplay, will he get fans' support?
Bale's portrayal trumps 'Batman vs Gorr' debate
Bale is undoubtedly Hollywood's master of disguise and the best at it. His commitment to a film character is deemed beyond passionate by many observers of cinema. Even in the era of enhanced VFX and prosthetics, Bale gained around 40 pounds to portray Dick Cheney in Vice (2018). This is one of the recent examples of how he didn't just play a character but became them. Gorr too looked like no one could have done it better than Bale.
Bale being cast as a villain and hero in the superhero genre is enough proof of his versatility and range.
To debate whether Bale played Batman better or Gorr would seem superficial given they are on different ends of the spectrum. But Gorr receiving crazy fan love and positive reviews within a few days of Thor: Love And Thunder release evidently posits Bale as the best actor in the superhero genre, and it is an unarguable truth. After all, it's not an easy feat to get acclaim in a film which isn't at par with the production house' previous ventures.
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