The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a laundry list (that keeps getting longer) of characters it has mercilessly teased or tried to bring to the silver screen only for them to never APPEAR. This is why Loki season 2, episode 3 boldly going ahead and making the third Odinson, Balder the Brave, MCU canon came as a bit of a surprise.
Is it just a nod to Daniel Craig almost playing the role in Multiverse of Madness, or dare we be hopeful that Balder will actually soon be entering the MCU?
Seeing as hope is what keeps us coming back to Marvel after monstrosities like Secret Invasion, we’ll proceed with the latter sentiment — that Loki didn’t just add a towering statue of Balder to rub salt in the wound of Craig fans who have long dreamt of his MCU debut. Armed with the belief that this is the studio teasing Balder’s imminent arrival, it’s time to mine Hollywood’s best and see who the top candidates are to play the brand-new Asgardian god.
Yes, he has done substantial work since starring in Stranger Things as Billy Hargrove, but something about Dacre Montgomery taking a final stance against the Mind Flayer, resisting its seemingly indomitable control, and fighting it with all he had in the season 3 finale has left me wanting to see him in a similar role — not mind-controlled, but fighting off mythical beasts and coming out on the top this time. Of course, the long hair he sports in the show and his constant seductive charisma have a (big) part to play in him being my first choice. Marvel struck gold with Chris Evans ⏤ why not repeat history but give us Asgard’s ass for a change?
Daniel Craig, as we know, is already Marvel’s first choice for Balder. He’s a hot commodity after his days as elite spy James Bond, his run as Benoit Blanc in the Knives Out films is thriving, and let’s face it, he would make an exceptionally brave Balder. He’s been almost unanimously touted as the best 007 ever for his ability to give the spy a personality while keeping his charisma intact even as he fled for his life from deadly enemies. If anyone can rival Tom Hiddleston’s ability to embody a Norse God and make us freeze simply by flipping his hair, it’s Craig.
Now, Joe Alwyn is a good actor, and he would do the role of Balder justice, fitting in well between Thor and Loki. But after the second episode of Loki threw major shade at Hiddleston’s past as Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend, it’s the thought of two shunned Asgardian gods being played by the Folklore singer’s ex-boyfriends that has me reaching for Alwyn’s resume. Combined with rumors that Swift herself may be making a Marvel appearance of her own soon, well, all I need now is a bucket of popcorn.
This is all you, guys. For some reason, I’ve been stuck on The Notebook’s Gosling for a very long time (I even went all “What do you want?!” to Renslayer after seeing her scattered agenda in season 2’s third episode), and reading tweets pitching Gosling as the perfect pick for Balder was an instant reminder of his bold gait in Blade Runner 2049 and The Gray Man. Gone was the lovesick Noah and in came the fierce image of Gosling wielding the magnificent Svraden from the Marvel comics. He’s no longer Young Hercules and he’s certainly not just Ken. He’s the god the people want. The god the people need. Deliver him to us, Kevin Feige.
Let’s get this out of the way — I am not a big Liam fan, peeps. I would rather have Mads Mikkelsen play the role of the Witcher any day of the week. But amid all of my dreamy castings, logic deserves a say. For one thing, unlike Loki, Balder is Thor’s biological half-brother, so him having similar features to those of the God of Thunder would make sense. For another — and this is where my negative voice takes the chair — Marvel’s plans for Balder have previously been on rocky ground. Per behind-the-scenes photos from the Multiverse of Madness set, Balder was originally going to be a member of the Illuminati and would have thus been killed off in Wanda’s massacre. While we don’t know what stopped Marvel from adding yet another name to the list of casualties, it doesn’t afford high hopes for Balder’s trajectory in the MCU ⏤ unless, of course, the studio does have big plans for the character and the idea of killing him off 10 seconds after introducing him was scrapped quicker than you can say Ant-Man 4. In that case, Marvel can give Liam a try, or it can pull a Gemma Chan and just bring Mads back. I, for one, wouldn’t be mad about it, but only if he’s on screen for longer than 10 seconds, please.