Thor: Love and Thunder will be the last MCU adventure in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’ll likely bring an end to Chris Hemsworth’s tenure as Thor. The actor has played Thor in several movies so far, including three Thor films and four Avengers installments, and he also appeared in Doctor Strange. Endgame already retired three of the original six Avengers, including Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America. Hawkeye and Thor are on their way out as well, and they’re expected to be replaced by Kate Bishop and the new Thor (Natalie Portman). But there’s another reason why Thor 4 is so important. As the final title in Phase 4, it’ll set up what comes next in Phase 5, and might tease major events and conflicts for the upcoming Avengers teams. That’s also why Christian Bale’s role in the film is so critical.

As I’ve often explained, the main reason why we can’t get an Endgame sequel so soon is that Marvel needs to rebuild this universe. The world needs new heroes and new team-ups as well as new villains and stories to connect them all. What I mean by that is that we, the audience, need to discover all these elements before we can even dream of an Endgame sequel. The reason why we put so many feelings into this movie in the first place is Marvel’s incredible ability to connect a decade worth of separate stories into a single major storyline. We need to feel the same way about the next generation of heroes and villains before Marvel makes another Endgame.

Also, as Infinity War and Endgame proved, the villain is a major piece of the whole puzzle. That’s one other reason Endgame works so well. Thanos is the best villain Marvel crafted for the MCU so far, and, hopefully, it’ll be able to deliver similar bad guys. And when you have a major villain at play, you need a talented actor to portray him. For Thanos, Marvel got Josh Brolin. Bale might just be his replacement.

Recent reports said the actor could play Dario Agger or Beta Ray Bill in Thor 4 and revealed that whatever he ends up with, Marvel will use motion capture gear for the hero, just like they did for Brolin did for Thanos or Mark Ruffalo for Hulk.

This brings us to another beloved Marvel actor, Tessa Thomspon, who played Valkyrie in previous Thor and Avengers movies, revealed to ET Online that the former Batman actor will be a villain in Thor 4. Here’s what she had to say about the film:

Some familiar faces, some new people into the mix. Christian Bale is going to play our villain, which is going to be fantastic.

It’s unclear why Thompson made that specific revelation, given that Bale’s role is still secret. But we agree that Bale playing the villain will be fantastic. Also, Thomspon may have just become another high-profile Marvel leaker. And let’s not forget that Thor 4 will be a Taika Waititi movie, one more reason to be excited about it. That said, we can only hope that Bale’s involvement in the MCU will extend beyond Thor 4 and, therefore, Phase 4.

Previous reports described Bale’s character as “alien and otherworldly,” which could fit Gorr, Gladiator, and Michael Korvac, according to MCU Cosmic. Marvel, of course, will take its time to reveal Bale’s character, so we’ll just have to wait for it to become official.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.