Christian Bale is in negotiations to join Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Variety has confirmed.

Should the deal close, it would be Bale’s first big franchise movie since his final performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman in 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The fourth film in the “Thor” franchise — which is slated to open Nov. 5, 2021 — will be directed by “Thor: Ragnarok” filmmaker Taika Waititi, with Chris Hemsworth playing the titular superhero, Tessa Thompson reprising her role from “Ragnarok” as Valkyrie, and Natalie Portman returning to the franchise for the first time since 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World.” Collider first reported the news Bale was in talks for “Love and Thunder.”

It’s unclear what role Bale would be playing in the film, but there is one fearsome contender. At the 2019 San Diego Comic Con, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige revealed that Portman’s Jane Foster will take up Thor’s hammer Mjolnir in “Love and Thunder,” and take up the persona of the Mighty Thor — like she did in a recent comic book storyline. If the film follows those comics, Foster could end up battling Cul, aka the God of Fear, and also Thor’s uncle. Since each “Thor” movie has expanded our understanding of Thor’s family, Cul could be a strong villain for “Love and Thunder” — and Bale a prime candidate to play him.

Marvel and Disney had no comment.

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