Thor: Love and Thunder – Christian Bale's role confirmed

It's more than 18 months away from release, but Thor: Love and Thunder is poised to be a pivotal movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). From where we're sitting now, the fourth Thor movie (or 'Four' for short) is hugely anticipated, marking writer-director Taika Waititi's return to Asgard, and the series he triumphantly reinvigorated with 2017's delirious Thor: Ragnarok.

The movie will arrive in Phase Four of the MCU, set to begin in May 2020 with the release of the Scarlett Johansson Black Widow film. From what little we know so far, Love and Thunder will be bringing Natalie Portman's Jane Foster back into the fold, after she sat out the events of Ragnarok. (She made a cameo, comprised of archive footage, in Avengers: Endgame.)

Portman is being sculpted as the new female Thor, which was teased in a 2019 Comic-Con snap that showed Waititi (who recently won his first Oscar for Jojo Rabbit) handing over the legendary hammer Mjolnir.

Of course, Chris Hemsworth is back as the god of thunder, as is Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. The latter stepped up to become Asgard's new leader at the climax of Avengers: Endgame, and Thompson has been spilling the beans about another important cast member. We're referring to Le Mans '66 actor, former Batman and Oscar nominee Christian Bale, whose involvement in the film has been the subject of intense speculation.

In an interview with ET Online, Thompson confirmed that Bale will be playing the film's antagonist. "Christian Bale is going to play our villain, which is going to be fantastic... I've read the script. I can't tell you much. Lots of exciting text messages exchanged between Natalie and I. We're going to have fun. Taika is writing [and] directing. Some familiar faces. Some new people coming into the mix."

Thompson also elaborated on Valkyrie's destiny: "She's king. If she can't find her queen, she'll just be king and queen at the same time."

In other news, Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel, otherwise known as the voice of Groot, confirmed that the Guardians of the Galaxy will be appearing in Love and Thunder. This is hardly surprising, given that their enjoyably fractious partnership with Thor was established during the closing moments of Endgame, as they all prepared to head off into space together.

Diesel let slip the news during a conversation with about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. That movie has been bounced all over the release schedule following director James Gunn's firing and subsequent re-hiring. (In the meantime, he has made The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros.)

"I am waiting and excited for my friend James Gunn to knock this next one out of the park," Diesel said. "He took The Suicide Squad so he’s about to embark on it. Thor will also, the director talked to me about Thor will incorporate some of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

"That'll be very interesting, nobody knows. But maybe I shouldn't have said anything."

Too late now, Vin. The cat's out of the bag and we're even more excited about Thor: Love and Thunder than before. It's due for release on the 5th of November 2021.