From Page to Screen: Gorr the God Butcher

All Gods must die.” These are words uttered by the horrifying Gorr in both Thor: Love and Thunder and in the world of Marvel comics. The character, played by Christian Bale in his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut, was created by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic for 2013’s Thor: God of Thunder run and has since become a fan-favorite member of Thor’s extensive rogues’ gallery. Known as the God Butcher, the villain’s main objective is to wipe all living deities out of existence. This remains his goal in the MCU, an adaptation that actually manages to match up quite well with its iconic source material. Although, very few things can ever be exactly the same. Join us as we take a look at Gorr’s transition from page to screen, exploring what the MCU borrowed accurately from the comics and what it decided to change.

Design

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. Gorr is still pretty scary in Thor: Love and Thunder, but his design is a far cry from the look comic book readers grew accustomed to. Christian Bale‘s antagonist is still chalk white, but he’s not nearly as undressed as the original model. The MCU puts Gorr in a flowing white robe in place of the skin-tight black speedo look the God Butcher rocks in the 616. Both versions of Gorr wear an ominous hood, but the colors are different for each one. Comic Gorr dons black, in contrast to his skin, while MCU Gorr wears more white, perhaps as a means of making him appear sort of nude from afar. Lastly, Bale‘s Gorr has a fairly humanoid head and body, doing away with the comic’s more alien, tentacled monster.

Origin

Thor: God of Thunder #6 (2012)

Gorr has one of the more tragic origins of any Marvel villain, but of course, that may have been a requirement to explain why his desires are so extreme. In both the comics and the MCU, Gorr’s hatred of the Gods stems from the death of his loved ones. It’s just that, in Thor: Love and Thunder, the details are simplified for the sake of streamlining the story. Aaron‘s original books had Gorr losing his mother, his mate, and his son, all succumbing to the barren conditions they were subject to living in on their alien planet. Taika Waititi‘s version of this is incredibly similar, only on film, Gorr is only shown losing his child. There are no other relatives mentioned, and Gorr’s son Agar is replaced by a daughter mostly referred to as “Love”. That being said, MCU Gorr does still lose his daughter to the intense drought on his unnamed homeworld, just like his illustrated inspiration.

After Agar breathes his last breath in the 616, Gorr comes across two gods duking it out in the lifeless environment he is barely surviving. One a god in golden armor, and the other a god of pitch black. The duo severely injure each other in battle, with the golden god falling at Gorr’s feet and requesting his help. Enraged by the fact no god had ever helped him, Gorr instead picks up the weapon of Knull (the aforementioned dark being, more on that later) and slays the golden god before him. Embued with new, lethal abilities by this weapon, called All-Black the Necrosword, Gorr vows to take revenge upon all gods and takes off into the unknown to begin his new journey in earnest.

Thor: God of Thunder #6 (2012)

This general concept of Gorr finding two gods is adapted for the MCU, but it doesn’t play out exactly the same. The live-action version of Gorr does not actually see two gods fighting to the death. Instead, he stumbles across an Oasis-like patch of greenery inhabited by the golden god of Light he had prayed to for his daughter’s safety. Initially relieved, believing he has finally found mercy, Gorr is shell-shocked to discover that the golden god is an arrogant, vain, gluttonous fool with no regard for the mortals he is supposed to protect. After insulting Gorr’s faith and family, the golden god reveals he has just killed a being corrupted by the Necrosword, gesturing to an all-black corpse on the ground. Enraged, Gorr renounces his devotion and uses the Necrosword to decapitate the god of Light, before making his famous vow and embracing his newfound powers. Many of the beats are the same as in the comic, it’s just adjusted slightly to fit Waititi‘s vision for the character.

Abilities

Thor: God of Thunder #2 (2012)

Gorr’s abilities were going to have to change a little bit for the MCU. In the comics, the Necrosword is created by Knull (told you we’d get back to it), who is the progenitor of the Klyntar race and the black god-figure seen by Gorr in battle. For the uninitiated, “Klyntar” is the scientific term for “alien symbiotes”. The same symbiotes Spider-Man can never seem to stop running into, and the same symbiotes whose film rights are still firmly owned by Sony. The 616 All-Black operates using symbiote-like power, allowing its user to form large black tendrils and gooey black wings among other constructs. It also grants an accelerated healing factor and enhanced durability, and assists Gorr in creating a small army of shadow monsters to aid him in accomplishing his goals.

Thor: God of Thunder #2 (2012)

The MCU’s take on the Necrosword is very similar, but it drops all connections to the Klyntar. Gorr is still able to summon creatures and strange black tendrils, but everything is related to a shadow world instead of oozing symbiotic material. The Necrosword also still has the unique ability to slay any god and continues to grant Bale‘s Gorr with enhanced capabilities. One major difference is that the live-action Gorr does not sprout wings to travel. Instead, the sword seemingly allows him to travel via shadow, disappearing and reappearing in darkness as he pleases.

Plot

Both versions of Gorr begin their quest by quietly slaughtering pantheons of “lower-level” gods across multiple planets. There’s even a shot-for-shot recreation of the death of Falligar, the large animal-like god that Thor finds dead next to a wounded Sif in the movie. They both also have the same endgame – using a MacGuffin to wipe out the rest of the gods in one fell swoop. 616 Gorr uses an army of kidnapped god-slaves to create the “Godbomb”, which when detonated would purge the universe of all its deities. In the MCU, however, he’s looking for Stormbreaker as a means of getting to Eternity, the wish-granting higher power he could use to magically make all gods pop out of reality.

Comic book Gorr uses a lot of timey wimey shenanigans to carry out his plot, but the movie adaptation gets rid of all that to make things less complicated. Bale’s Gorr simply kidnaps the children of the gods to lure Thor and his valuable weapon directly to him. Both Gorrs, however, use an odd, colorless planet as their base of operations. In Aaron’s books, it’s the Black World while in Waititi‘s film, it’s a place known as the Shadow World. Close, but not exactly the same.

Death

Thor: God of Thunder #11 (2013)

Neither Gorr makes it out of their initial story alive, which is maybe in the universe’s best interest. MCU Gorr gets the better end of the deal, though, getting a touching reunion with his daughter before entering the final frontier. The final act of Love and Thunder sees Thor and Jane Foster convincing Gorr to use his wish to bring his child back instead of killing all gods, which enables him to give her a tearful goodbye before the corruption of the Necrosword ultimately kills him. In the comics, Gorr also sees his child one last time before death, only there it’s an evil construct of the Necrosword that berates him for the path he’s gone down. Not quite as cute.

616 Gorr is also not killed by any sort of infection and is actually decapitated by the combined efforts of three different Thors from across the Marvel timeline. Thor: Love and Thunder manages to replicate this with a clever plot twist, where Thor temporarily passes his power to the group of kidnapped children he’s trying to save. This results in Gorr and his army having to deal with “three Thors” in the same way his comic counterpart did; Thor, Mighty Thor, and the combined force of all the Kid Thors.

Thor: Love and Thunder is now in theaters.

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