Exciting news recently emerged from the Marvel Studios’ offices about Thor: Love and Thunder. The fourth film in the series may feature the Bronze Age character Beta Ray Bill. Mainstream fans who are only familiar with the movies might not know much about the character, but long-time Marvel Comics fans will cheer. The arrival of Beta Ray Bill to Thor comics helped revitalize the book in the 1980s. The outer space hero took over the role of Thor when he proved worthy enough to wield Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.
Additional rumors swirled about Christian Bale meeting with Marvel executives to discuss appearing in the new Thor feature. Based on speculation, it appears Bale, the former Batman in the Christopher Nolan series, might be discussing the Beta Ray Bill role. If Bale takes over the role, he will not only lay claim to playing a DC Comics character and a Marvel Comics character, he can say be played one of the most famous superheroes in history and one known mostly to diehard fans.
News about Thor: Love and Thunder are sparse, but many believe the new feature sees Chris Hemsworth’s Thor no longer wielding the hammer. Natalie Portman returns to the series as Jane Foster. Supposedly, she will become the new Thor in a screen adaptation of the late 2000’s story arc in the comics. If so, the big would merge two “Thor replacement” storylines from different periods in the book’s publishing history. That could result in an intriguing sequel.
The debut of Beta Ray Bill in the comic book was a hallmark of the rebirth of Thor in the 1980s. The book experienced increased sales and critical acclaim after dropping dramatically from its 1960s-level popularity. Before suffering the fate of an outdated character, creative teams found a way to revitalize him.
In the 2000s, the Jane Foster version of Thor also added a new spark to the series. The comic book did receive helpful publicity from the successful Thor movies, and Jane Foster’s wielding of the Mjolnir kept the book from becoming too derivative of the films. Thor, as a comic book, maintained its own identity.
Thor: Love and Thunder crosses a cinematic milestone. Thor becomes the only character to receive a fourth solo movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That is impressive considering Thor’s “B-level” status in the books. As was the case with Iron Man, concerns existed about how successful a Thor franchise could become. The series, of course, exceeded all expectations.