Warning: This article contains spoilers for Loki season 2, episode 3.

Loki and Mobius took a trip to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair in Loki season 2’s third episode. Someone at Marvel Studios is clearly a history dork, as the sequence was full of fun, period-accurate details. In one fan-pleasing moment, in particular, Loki was confronted by an attraction themed around the Norse gods, scoffing that “Thor’s not that tall.”

But there was also an interesting namedrop of an unseen Asgardian: Balder the Brave. Loki is clearly familiar with him, though is confused as to why he’s even been included alongside Odin and Thor, saying:

“Why did they include Balder? Nobody’s even heard of him.”

This begs the question: who is Balder and why is this the first time he’s being mentioned?

The lost son of Odin

Balder in Loki
Image via Disney Plus

Balder has a very long history in Marvel Comics, making his debut in 1962’s Journey Into Mystery #85, just two issues after Thor’s first modern appearance. In the MCU Odin has (as far as we know) two biological children, Thor and Hela and one adoptive son in Loki.

Over in the comics he’s a little more prolific. He has eight sons (Thor, Ragnarok, Bragi, Vidar, Vali, Honir, Balder, Tyr, and Hermod), two daughters, (Aldrif and Laussa), and two adopted sons in Loki and Roger Norvell. Balder is considered one of the most talented of Odin’s children, and his speed and invulnerability make him one of Asgard’s most powerful warriors.

Balder is also the Asgardian God of Light, granting him the ability to fire intense energy beams hot enough to even melt Frost Giants. His only weakness (as per actual Norse mythology) is mistletoe and weapons poisoned or formed from the plant are deadly to him. He also has responsibility for protecting animals, and has the unique ability to empathise and communicate with them.

Just as in Norse mythology, the Marvel comics Balder is the key to the beginning of Ragnarok and the destruction of Asgard, though this is more of a cyclical thing than an apocalyptic process in the 616 comics universe. Beyond that, Balder eventually becomes the ruler of Asgard (due to Loki’s machinations), a position he held until his death. But, naturally, as a god, death didn’t slow him down and he eventually returned from the afterlife.

Where’s the MCU Balder?

MCU Balder concept art
Image via Marvel Studios

Plans have been afoot to bring Balder into the MCU for some time. Thor series costume designer Graham Churchyard has said:

“We got very far designing Balder the Brave, and then we were waiting, and waiting, and waiting on casting. I took it to a prototype stage, we were kind of in that design thing, getting fabrics together and ideas and waiting for an actor. Poor Balder the Brave, he almost made Thor 1, and Thor 2, and Thor 3, if I can simplify that. Then, it’s just like, ‘Yay! He’s gonna get an appearance!’ Poor guy. I’ve seen designs in Marvel’s archive book of Balder’s helmet going back to Kenneth Branagh’s Thor. So, he’s been a long time waiting, and I don’t think he’s gonna make an appearance any time soon.”

Balder was then planned to make his debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where he would have been a member of the Illuminati. James Bond himself, Daniel Craig was offered the role, though apparently declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Balder Twitter post
Image via X

As we haven’t seen Balder or heard any mention of him, we can assume he’d long since departed the MCU’s Asgard by the time Thor begins. It’s possible he may have died long before then, though if so we would expect Odin to at least mention Thor’s other sibling during the events of Thor: Ragnarok.

But Loki knows who he is, so perhaps the MCU Balder has been exiled from Asgard. Odin does have form for this, as he erased up Hela’s existence — if he can do it once why not twice? But, as Balder is generally a pretty nice guy in comics, it may be for the opposite reason to Hela.

For example, in an early comic appearance, the “softhearted” Balder deserted Odin during a battle with the Storm Giants in order to return a baby bird to its nest. For this, he was threatened with execution, though after Balder’s men offered their own lives for his Odin relented in his fury.

If Balder was to appear it’d likely be in Thor 5. Right now that’s a long way off, though Love and Thunder promised that the thunder god would return for another adventure. Even so, we can’t help but think a storyline about a long-lost child of Odin returning would feel rather reminiscent of Ragnarok. But hey, if they can get Daniel Craig to take the part consider us sold.

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