The Marvel Studios film Thor: Love and Thunder tells the tale of the Norse god of thunder as he contends with Gorr, portrayed by actor Christian Bale, as Gorr sets out on a path of vengeance against the gods for the deaths of his people and his daughter. The character of Gorr is torn straight from Marvel Comics and was the focus of the modern-day class Thor tale “The God Butcher.” Gorr has a striking, ominous, wholly unique look, and getting that look right was crucial to making Gorr a worthy onscreen foil for the thunder god.
Odd Studio was more than up to the task. When viewers discuss Love and Thunder, one of the common threads seen online is that Gorr steals the show: both in Bales’ performance and in his look. Odd Studio, a makeup and prosthetics company that boasts Oscar and BAFTA wins, has worked on a whole host of films, ranging from Where the Wild Things Are to Mad Max: Fury Road to Star Wars: Episode III, and put their talents to Love and Thunder’s cast, including Gorr.
Recently, I spoke with Adam Johansen, one of the two directors of Odd Studio, about Odd Studio’s work on Thor: Love and Thunder, adapting the film’s antagonist Gorr the God Butcher from the comic pages to the screen, the process of transforming actor Christian Bale into Gorr, creating other characters in the robust cast, and how Gorr’s emotional journey is reflected in his ever-transforming look in the movie.
FreakSugar: Thank you for speaking with us! How did you become involved with Thor: Love and Thunder?
Adam Johansen: No problem, anytime! I was first contacted by the producers (pre-COVID) initially to start the process of designing some of the characters that were to be realised in the film practically. After several weeks of designing some of the creatures/characters in the film, the production was put on hold due to the global pandemic. Later that same year we, Odd Studio, were approached again to begin pre-production and pick up where we left off.
FS: Gorr is a character from the pages of the comics. When adapting a character like that for the screen, what are some of the things that have to be taken into consideration?
AJ: It was established from the offset by [Love and Thunder director] Taika Waititi and Marvel that Gorr’s look/design was not going to be comic book accurate. Along with Marvel concept artists, we developed a design that paid homage to the symmetrical tentacles seen in the comics with symmetrical tattoos, and used them in helping to tell the story of his loss of faith after being rejected by his god and becoming possessed by the Necrosword – the brutal removal of his tattoos resulting in the scarification that adds to his terrifying appearance as “The God Butcher.”
FS: What was the process like for transforming Christian Bale into the God Butcher? Can you take us through the process?
AJ: Christian’s transformation each day would start with freshly shaving his head, face, arms, and chest. The makeup process then would vary slightly depending on the stage of transformation that Gorr was being shot that day—we did 7 different make up stages/looks for Gorr in total.
For the humanoid Gorr look he is covered in religious tattoos which his humanoid alien race/culture have. There are 20 tattoos in total. We wanted the colour of his tattoos to match the red earth of his planet and it would also be a nice contrast to his pale skin. As Gorr is approaching death from dehydration and starvation we wanted to break him down quite severely. He had cracked lips, sunburnt face and was very dirty and sweaty. We referenced and were influenced by the makeup looks from Sergio Leone’s westerns.
For the humanoid to “Butcher” Gorr look we slightly greyed his skin to reflect the Necrosword’s infection. Gorr also has a set of acrylic teeth for this stage and black mouth blood. It is during this stage Gorr gouges at his tattoos in an effort to remove them and renounce his god. This is the unseen backstory of the final scarred look of “The God Butcher” Gorr that we see throughout the film.
For the “The God Butcher” Gorr look, we see him fully transformed with grey skin, scarification all over his head and body where the tattoos were, upper and lower teeth, black mouth goo and long acrylic nails. We designed partially removed tattoos to lie underneath the scarification prosthetic appliances, particularly in areas that would have been hard for him to see the tattoos to reach when cutting at them. For the full “God Butcher” look, our application time averaged about 3.5hrs, and removal at the end of the day took approximately an hour.
FS: Were there any other characters you worked on for the film?
AJ: Yes, many! We created both races of aliens seen in the beginning of the film: the ‘owl-like’ Booskan creatures, that are attacking the timid blue Indigarrians. This included King Yakan, his entourage, and many background Indigarrians; some days on set would see up to 30 Indigarrians, and 6 stunt men in the Booskan creature suits.
We made life-sized, detailed stand in heads of the crazy goats, Gnasher & Grinder. These were used as reference for the Visual Effects team, to be able to track in scenes where the goats would play. We worked on some of the gods seen (and unseen) in Omnipotence City: Bastet, Mayan God, Fur Ball God and Satan. We also created the wearable Korg VFX reference, and a full-life size silicone dummy of Meik; also for VFX reference. The dummy of the dead “Dark Shadow Lord” was also one of our creations, as well as one of the abducted alien child characters: “Falligarian Kid.”
Thor: Love and Thunder is now available on Blu-ray, digital, and on-demand. Make sure to check out Odd Studio’s website for updates on their projects!