Is Gorr the God Butcher Wrong?
The latest Marvel film to hit the cinema is “Thor: Love and Thunder” and it’s… an OK movie. A shaky fourth phase of the MCU and the cheeky writing of Taika Waititi plagued this film a bit, but it did bring to the fold one of the more interesting villains of the Marvel Universe: Gorr the God Butcher.
Gorr is a fictional character played by Christian Bale. Despite being devoted to a certain faith, Gorr goes on a rampage of murdering gods of the Marvel universe after his family is taken from him. When his prayers go unanswered, he is miraculously given a cursed weapon and the power to battle and even end the lives of gods.
While our barely two-hour-long jaunt into the life of Gorr gives a cursory and shallow look at the God Butcher, the comics offer up a much more compelling look at the conflicted character. In the end, he appears to be nothing but a shameless villain, but is that really fair to Gorr? What if the gods should be butchered?
The Bible’s Many Gods
There is a bizarre misconception that there is only one god in the Bible, but that isn’t exactly true. An argument stands for One True God, but there are plenty of gods in the Old Testament. A cursory glance at the Ten Commandments reveals as much. Why else would we need the first commandment if there weren’t other gods to put before the Hebrew God?
Further, make no mistake that the God of the Israelites is quite familiar with the other gods and is brought into competition or conversation with them often. One example of this might be the literal wet-wood-lighting competition of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18.
Perhaps it is best to consider these other gods to be unlike the One True God and instead to serve as examples of a rebellious creation of fallen angels, like N.T. Wright might suggest in his arguments on Paul’s new monotheism. Or it might be wise to note that these other gods were merely man-made creations without real, universal power.
Yahweh the God Butcher
I will defer to other scholars for any real theological work on the difference between the gods and God, but look at Psalm 82 as a powerful example of God’s ultimate plan for the other gods. The scripture sounds hauntingly similar to something that might be straight from Gorr’s lips.
God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?
I say, “You are gods,
children of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, you shall die like mortals
and fall like any prince.
Psalm 82:1-2, 6-7 (NRSVue)
It sounds as though, at least to Asaph, the crafter of this Psalm, that the Hebrew God is fully intending on allowing the other lower-case-g gods to die like the mortals. So… maybe not so unlike the God Butcher in this way, eh? Kind of puts a different perspective on Jesus conquering sin and death when we consider those things as sorts of gods. Even still, this misses the point of what goes wrong with Gorr the God Butcher.
Where Gorr Goes Wrong
Somewhere along the way, all of the nuances of Gorr’s quest go awry. In the source comics, Gorr’s intentions start off with a bump in the road. His first kill is a god that asks for help. Not a great start, but he also manages to kill gods of fear, war, chaos, genocide, revenge, plagues, earthquakes, blood, wrath, jealousy, death and degradation. I’m personally a pacifist, but those are at least objectively negative-oriented gods.
Gorr kills some gods of poetry and flowers, too. These are a bit more subjective on the good and evil spectrum, but I’ve come across some awful flowers.
Spoilers ahead for a nine-year-old comic book series, but it’s an important element for the change that we see in Gorr.
Betrayed By His Own Blood
We learn in the comics that Gorr’s weapon, the Necrosword, is infected with some kind of Knull symbiote, like the Marvel character Venom. The curse infected him and changed him in unspeakable ways. It’s possible that this is what causes him to shift from a righteous avenging antihero to a merciless villain.
After many of the awful events involving Thor the Avenger, Gorr gets powerful enough to successfully craft the Godbomb. This is a device that will effectively obliterate every god ever from all time and space. To have an audience, Gorr also creates symbiote doppelgangers of his wife and last-to-die child, Agar.
Agar, however, has second thoughts about all of this and betrays his father. He goes to Thor and his compatriots in an effort to ruin Gorr’s plans.
What’s so important to this storyline is why Agar makes this choice.
The God Butcher Fails
To Agar, symbiote or not, Gorr has lost his original purpose and has become what he originally despised. Gorr now has the ability to create a device that could wipe out all gods, but what has he done with all of this power to be benevolent? Nothing.
Agar declares that his father has become a god. The god of hypocrisy. Boom - roll credits.
Well, not really, it still takes time for Thor to defuse the Godbomb and get Gorr handled, but the kernel remains. Gorr’s ultimate error lies in the fact that he lost his path somewhere along the way. It could be argued that he had good intentions or that his original goals were noble, but in the end, he was only another villain. A hypocrite with the powers of a god.
So, is the God Butcher wrong? The question stands for argument. As mentioned earlier, I’m not big on violence, so I’m wont to say that the God I worship doesn’t desire to butcher the other gods. But I’m just another mortal doing the best I can to not become the god of hypocrisy myself. Thankfully, the One True God's ways are not my ways.
Nathan Webb is a major nerd in just about every way. He loves video games, anime, cartoons, comic books, tech, and his fellow nerds. Hoping to provide a spiritual community for people with similar interests, he founded Checkpoint Church--"the church for nerds, geeks and gamers." Nathan can be found lurking on some visual novel subreddit, reading the latest shōnen entry, or playing the newest Farm Sim. Nathan is an ordained provisional elder in the United Methodist Church in the Western North Carolina Conference. He hosts a weekly newsletter podcast: To The Point.