BY MATT TUCK
Will Russell Crowe voice Beta Ray Bill in Thor: Love and Thunder? There is strong evidence for the casting.
Last week, it hit the internet that the two-time Oscar winner had been added to the star-studded cast of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder. When Deadline broke the news that Crowe had been added to the Thor 4 cast, it did not turn as many heads as I would have thought. By all rights, it should have. In this age of MCU speculation driving the collecting market, incorporating someone with Crowe’s resume could be a major move with significant implications going forward.
That leaves the question, what role could he play? Taking into account his age (after all, he is 57), it is unlikely he will have a physically-demanding role. Obviously this movie will have copious amounts of CGI effects with larger-than-life characters who can add to the MCU Thor mythos. That would indicate that Crowe will be lending his voice to Love and Thunder and possibly beyond.
Granted this is all speculation on my part, but casting Crowe and his regal voice for Beta Ray Bill is the logical choice.
THE RECURRING EASTER EGGS
Marvel has been teasing us with Beta Ray Bill for seven years now. First, there was a mysterious figure in a red cloak inside the Collector’s chamber in Guardians of the Galaxy. While James Gunn never confirmed this was meant to be Bill, it is hard to imagine it would have been anyone else.
The more obvious Easter egg came in Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. As the camera panned by the Grandmaster’s tower, we see the face of his former champions etched into its visage. Among those are Man-Thing, Bi-Beast, Ares, and Beta Ray Bill. In this instance, it is clearly his likeness, so there is no denying that Bill is already in the MCU.
Don’t forget that Infinity War introduced possibly the most direct allusion to Beta Ray Bill, Stormbreaker. After all, that weapon was made specifically for Bill on the order of Odin after Bill proved himself worthy of Mjolnir. It would be fitting for Stormbreaker to fall into the hands of its comic book owner in the MCU.
Marvel isn’t known for teasing characters only to let them stay on the shelf. Around the time Ragnarok was released in theaters, Kevin Feige confirmed that Waititi had a Beta Ray Bill cameo planned for the third Thor installment, but Feige vetoed that addition because he wanted Bill to have a large-scale debut. Enter: A-lister Russell Crowe. We can safely assume that someone of his caliber will play a significant role in Love and Thunder and possibly beyond, and Feige’s hesitance to use Bill in a cameo hints that there is a greater plan for that character.
THE THOR CORPS
This is already a packed film, and there is only so much screen time without venturing into four-hour Snyder Cut territory. We already know that Jane Foster will wield Mjolnir, and there are set photos with Chris Hemsworth in 1980s rockstar attire. That implies that not only will we have Lady Thor and Thor Odinson, but the plot could include Thunderstrike/Eric Masterson. Then there is Korg, Valkyrie, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and possibly more. That is a crowded lineup of characters.
With so many heroes, how can there be time for everyone? There won’t be, and I anticipate many will get Ragnarok’s Doctor Strange treatment and serve as more or less cameos. That leaves plenty of time to establish the newest Marvel team up, the Thor Corps.
A 1990s relic, the Thor Corps has been a randomly recurring team in the Thor comics. They premiered in 1991, with a lineup of future-Thor Dargo Ktor, Thunderstrike, and (you guessed it) Beta Ray Bill. The Thor Corps was resurrected for 2015’s Secret War, serving as the Doomworld police force with Jane Foster posing as a member.
Even if we don’t get the Thor Corps this time around, their arrival is imminent.
Another strong indication that Beta Ray Bill is speeding toward the MCU comes straight from the modern comics.
It starts two years ago in Donny Cates’ Guardians of the Galaxy run. As part of a new GOTG lineup, Cates introduced a couple of underappreciated fan favorites, Dark Hawk and Beta Ray Bill as well as Cosmic Ghost Rider, and that ushered Bill into the modern comic fold.
The bigger clue is Beta Ray Bill #1, which was released just last week. Considering that Feige oversees all things Marvel, including the comics and the movies, it stands to reason that Bill’s sudden reemergence has been calculated and properly timed.
WHAT ABOUT KNULL?
The prominent fan theory is that Crowe will bring Knull to life. This stems from Christian Bale having been confirmed to voice (and I assume motion-capture) Gorr the God Butcher. In the comics, the two characters are linked as Knull made his first unnamed appearance in Jason Aaron’s Thor #1 from 2014. That’s not to mention that the plot of Love and Thunder introduces another of Aaron’s famous characters, Jane Foster as Lady Thor.
While this is not out of the realm of possibility, my inclination is that Knull may be too new of a character. True, he technically made his first appearance in Thor: God of Thunder #6, but we were not formally introduced to the God of the Symbiotes until Venom #3 in 2018. Being a symbiote god, I would imagine Knull would count as part of the Venom family of characters, which would fall under the Sony banner. Obviously Sony and Marvel have a working relationship, but logically he would be better suited for Venom.
Truth be told, I don’t think Knull would be in the best of hands with Waititi. While I do not discredit the filmmaker’s work and creativity, he has established that his MCU entries are comedies with a hefty dose of action. Knull is a serious character who borders on the horror genre, and I would not want to see him treated as a joke.
LOVE AND THUNDER...AND BILL
Whether or not Crowe will voice Beta Ray Bill or if the character will be featured in Love and Thunder at all is anyone’s guess. We all know that Bill will be a star in the MCU...eventually. When that happens to be, only Kevin Feige knows for sure. As far as Crowe’s Thor 4 role, the real clue will be if he has signed on for multiple MCU movies or if this is a one shot.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.