Christian Bale Has a Shot at Oscar Glory in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best shot at Oscar glory has arrived in the form of Christian Bale’s ferocious Gorr the God Butcher in “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

He’s the best Marvel villain you’ll ever see. More terrifying than Thanos and more wealthy than Hela from “Thor: Ragnarok.” He has the complex motivations of Erik Killmonger from “Black Panther,” but with Bale’s mesmeric physical transformation.

The Brit is a glutton for punishment.

He’s Hollywood’s most addictive freak, able to lose and gain weight with the apparent ease of Alexa delivering the weather report. In his most recent role, the actor is stick-thin (no Batman biceps here) and appears to have fleas. And, unlike so many of his A-list pals, he can act sensitively against a green screen, unlike so many of his A-list pals who casually pop into comic book movies to pay for their kitchen renovation. He’s incredible.

Bale is part of an altogether thrilling action movie, written and directed by Taika Waititi, that enlivens the spotty Phase 4 of the MCU. It’s like “Eternals” never happened. If only…

The New Zealand filmmaker also reprises his role as rock alien Korg, who quickly recaps Thor’s history with his trademark dry, pop-culture-savvy wit. The “previously on” segment is set to Enya’s “Only Time.”

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) now sits zen-like under a tree, awaiting save-the-universe missions. Then he hears about Gorr, a vengeful man who kills gods in retaliation for the death of his young daughter in the desert.

If Gorr can obtain the device known as Eternity, he will be able to defeat all ethereal beings in one fell swoop. Thor is among them. Only the God of Thunder himself has the power to stop him.

Thor and Dr. Jane Foster have returned (Natalie Portman, who everyone forgets was in the MCU). Back on Earth, Jane is sick, and the couple, who had broken up, is reunited in an unexpected and badass way.

Tessa Thompson’s party-hardy Valkyrie has been ruling over New Asgard — an amusing mash-up of gods and school-board meetings — here on Earth. When Gorr kidnaps all of the city’s children, she is drawn into the conflict.

Waititi, who directed “Ragnarok” and should direct every Marvel film, never gets bogged down in plot or vocabulary. Instead, he entices us with massive stakes for each and every character, as well as a genuine sense of peril. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was billed as a unique Marvel horror film. “Love and Thunder,” as amusing as it is, is far scarier.

Christian Bale Has Shot at Oscar Glory

For example, towards the end of the film, Waititi employs mostly black-and-white and Bale’s Gorr starts to resemble an anguished Nosferatu.

Don’t worry, Thor isn’t all bad. Since Waititi took over, this subseries, along with the supremely enjoyable “Spider-Man” films, has been among the funniest in the MCU.

We meet new gods like Russell Crowe’s Zeus, who looks like he’s straight out of “Monty Python.” And Thor’s Hammer and Stormbreaker — two inanimate objects — have a terrifying, hilarious rivalry.

And, for all the praise that Bale deserves, Hemsworth’s Thor manages to take a regal, impenetrable figure and, for lack of a better word, make him human. We’re just as concerned about the God of Thunder saving all the gods as we are about him being dumped via a note left in the kitchen.

“Love and Thunder” serves as a timely reminder that in order for the MCU to continue in an entertaining and soulful manner, creativity and innovation are required. It’s not enough to say “multiverse” 1,000 times and call it a film.

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