The cast of Thor: Love and Thunder is expanding, with the MCU sequel reportedly casting venerable Australian actor Russell Crowe in an unspecified role.
With Natalie Portman's Jane Foster apparently taking up the hammer as Thor, Christian Bale taking the role of Gorr the God-Butcher, Chris Hemsworth's Thor returning from his time with the Guardians of the Galaxy, leader of Asgard Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie seeking a romantic partner, and so much more going on in the known aspects of the plot, the characters Crowe could play run the gamut.
But as we dig into the Marvel Comics lore at play in Thor: Love and Thunder, a few potential character additions for Russell Crowe to play become apparent. We've narrowed down the characters Crowe could play to just six likely suspects - from villains, to heroes, to supporting characters - all of whom might be the right choice for both the actor and the film.
We'll break it all down right now.
Beta Ray Bill
A fan favorite character created by Walt Simonson in August 1983's Thor #337, the oddly alien Beta Ray Bill is a Korbinite warrior who sought the power of Mjolnir to protect his people from Surtur – and actually managed to prove himself worthy of wielding the vaunted Asgardian hammer.
Bill became a longtime Thor supporting character and cult classic hero, wielding his own hammer, Stormbreaker. Though Bill's got an alien appearance that may lend itself best to CGI, Russell Crowe may be a pitch-perfect choice to step into the voice role, in the same way co-star Christian Bale will likely use CGI to embody the villainous Gorr the God-Butcher.
As one of the first heroes besides Thor to prove worthy of Mjolnir's power, Bill is an important part of Thor's mythos that hasn't made it to the MCU yet, and who may have some direct impact on the story of Jane Foster taking up the powers and mantle of Thor.
We know director Taika Waititi has Bill on the mind - a statue of a Korbinite appears as one of the previous champions of Sakaar in his film Thor: Ragnarok.
Beta Ray Bill is currently starring in a just-launched limited series from creator Daniel Warren Johnson.
Dario Agger is a relatively recent Marvel villain, having debuted in Thor: God of Thunder #19.NOW (a spin-off side one-shot of the core Thor title). A Grecian billionaire, Agger is the CEO of evil energy corporation Roxxon who is bent on extracting every last possible natural resource from the Earth before destroying it – and doing the same to all the realms of Asgard.
He also happens to be a Minotaur, a literal half-human/half-bull monster of Greek legend, a monstrous secret that is emblematic of Agger's greed and terrible lust for power.
Agger is a core villain of writer Jason Aaron's Thor run, and a key adversary to Jane Foster as Thor. Given Thor: Love and Thunder is adapting aspects of Aaron's Thor, it's very possible Crowe could take the role of Dario Agger, as well as his monstrous Minotaur side.
He most recently appeared in Immortal Hulk: We Believe in Bruce Banner, though his fate in that story leaves some question where he may show up next in comic books.
Throughout his history, Thor has spent time living on Earth as a mortal, as in his original Marvel incarnation where he swapped places with the human Donald Blake. But after Blake's 'death,' Thor once again lived on Earth in his own body under an assumed name as a human construction worker.
On that job he met Eric Masterson, a fellow construction worker with whom Thor struck up a friendship, inadvertently pulling Eric and his son Kevin into his adventures. Eventually, Odin physically bonded Thor and Masterson in order to save Masterson's life, leading Eric Masterson to become Thor's human secret identity for some time.
Masterson and Thor eventually separated, with Masterson taking up the Asgardian mace known as Thunderstrike, a name he used as a superhero until his death, at which point he passed the power and mace down to his son Kevin.
Russell Crowe may be a bit long in the tooth to start in as Chris Hemsworth's replacement (and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster already seems poised to do that), but Marvel Studios is not shy about adapting characters to fit into their movie plots, meaning Crowe could easily take the role of Thor's confidant Eric Masterson in a slightly different context for Thor: Love and Thunder.
This is a pretty straightforward idea. Back in Thor: Ragnarok, when Loki was masquerading as the then missing Odin, he had a special performance commissioned in which notable actors like Matt Damon had cameos as actors playing the role of Asgardians in the play.
Could director Taika Waititi repeat the joke for Thor: Love and Thunder, maybe bringing in Russell Crowe for the bit part punchline of playing Odin onstage? Odin was portrayed by New Zealand actor Sam Neill in Ragnarok, an actor Waititi has worked with a few times, so maybe there's another 'Asgardian' role available for Crowe, should Neill return.
Weirder things have happened.
Balder the Brave
Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby all the way back in 1962's Journey Into Mystery #85, Balder the Brave is one of the most prominent Asgardian heroes not yet adapted to the MCU. Balder is one of Thor's closest allies, and true to his moniker is considered the bravest warrior in Asgard.
Balder's comic book history shares much in common with his mythological roots. In both his classical Norse myth story and in modern comics, Balder is invulnerable to harm from almost any weapon or living thing in all the realms of Asgard, except for the herb Mistletoe (the reasons why vary a little from myth to comics).
In both stories, the mischievous Loki learns of his weakness and uses it to kill him, jumpstarting the cycle of Ragnarok which will destroy Asgard (in fact that actually happened in the MCU without Balder's involvement in the appropriately titled Thor: Ragnarok).
From there, Balder's history involves many complicated deaths and rebirths, including at one point marrying Hela, in comic books the queen of Hel, before eventually returning to Asgard.
And, as Thor's brother and Odin's son, Balder has occasionally challenged Thor for the throne of Asgard - even once taking it for a time.
With a character named the God-Butcher who murders deities in play for Thor: Love and Thunder, could Russell Crowe step into the role of Balder, an Asgardian whose cycle of death and rebirth is central to his narrative?
Thor: Love and Thunder is already shaping up to have two Thors in its cast with Chris Hemsworth's Odinson and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, so why not go for three and put in Russell Crowe as old King Thor?
Jason Aaron's Thor: God of Thunder featured a vision of the future in which Thor is now an old man and king of Asgard as his father Odin was before him. When Thor first appears as All-Father, he faces off with Gorr the God-Butcher alongside his time-displaced younger self. Then, the conclusion of Aaron's long run on Thor flashed forward to the end of time in the story King Thor, in which Loki retrieves Gorr's sword All-Black the Necrosword, leading to the final battle between Thor and Loki.
As much as Marvel Studios likes to use CGI and make up to age and de-age its performers (a la Chris Evans as old Steve Rogers in Avengers: Endgame), bringing in Russell Crowe alongside fellow Australian action star Hemsworth might be a perfect way to have both characters onscreen together in an extended way, with the differences in Hemsworth and Crowe's acting styles and attitudes highlighting the differences between Thor and his older self.
And let's be honest, especially with beards, Hemsworth and Crowe could pass for family – if not different versions of the same character.
Thor's comic book adventures are adding new faces as well, with a new artist joining the ongoing Thor title this summer.