While Phase 4 of the MCU has introduced a number of new heroes and villains through Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Loki, Marvel Studios is still invested in its remaining original Avengers, including the God of Thunder himself.
Following the success of 2017's Thor: Ragnarok, Thor: Love and Thunder will reunite Thor's Chris Hemsworth with director Taika Waititi and much of the threequel film's cast, while also bringing Jane Foster's Natalie Portman back to the franchise who, surprisingly, is expected to become The Mighty Thor.
While members of the cast have described Thor 4 as "bonkers," much of the film's plot and role within the greater MCU is being kept under wraps.
What isn't a secret, however, is Love and Thunder's star-powered cast is; and apparently, it's bigger than fans originally thought.
Simon Russell Beale Cast in Thor 4?
A playbill for The Lehman Trilogy on Broadway credited actor - Sir Simon Russell Beale - for having been cast in the Chris Hemsworth-starring Thor: Love and Thunder.
Renowned for his career on the stage, the English actor has also appeared in roles for television and film, including Showtime's Penny Dreadful, Into the Woods, and Mary Queen of Scots.
If confirmed, Beale won't be the only new face to the Thor franchise. In addition to Russell Crowe as Zeus and Melissa McCarthy playing a fake version of Hela, Christian Bale is set to star as the film's villainous Gorr the God Butcher.
Thor 4's Shakespearean Roots
Marvel's original Thor film arguably belongs in the category of a Shakespearean drama. In addition to being directed by Kenneth Branagh, who helmed film adaptations of Shakespeare plays, Thor's father, Odin, was played by Shakespeare veteran Anthony Hopkins.
Thor: Ragnarok was a departure from Chris Hemsworth's previous Thor films in terms of style and tone and was a massive success with fans and at the box office. However, director Taika Waititi didn't completely abandon Thor's dramatic origins or its focus on self-discovery and conflict.
In addition to Thor's own personal arc, Ragnarok included a theatrical reenactment of Loki's death played by actors like Sam Neill and Matt Damon, and due to Beale's Shakespearean background, it's possible that Waititi intends to continue paying homage to the franchise's roots.
Since Marvel has yet to confirm Beale's casting, there's no saying as to who he's playing in the upcoming film or the extent of his role. However, since another theatrical reenactment is expected in Love and Thunder, it's possible that Beale could lend his stage-acting chops to that particular scene.
Thor: Love and Thunder will debut in theaters on July 8, 2022.