In the third episode of Loki season two, Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief and agent Mobius travel to the 1893 World’s Fair, in an effort to find a variant of He Who Remains. In the World’s Fair pavilion for the country of Norway, they see wooden carvings of their ancient gods. There’s Odin, Thor… and Balder the Brave. In the MCU series, Loki scoffs at Balder’s inclusion in the pantheon, saying “nobody cares about Balder.” But whatever Loki says, in Marvel Comics, Balder is indeed a key member of Thor’s supporting cast who has been conspicuously absent from the MCU. With confirmation now that Balder exists in the MCU, we never know when he might appear in the flesh. But just who is Marvel’s Balder the Brave?
Here’s the comics history of Balder, why he wasn’t in the MCU until this Loki season two mention, and how Balder nearly made his MCU debut previously.
The Marvel Comics History of Balder the Brave
Long before his Loki appearance, Marvel Comics introduced Balder the Brave in one of the earliest Thor stories, 1962’s Journey into Mystery #85. This story was written and illustrated by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who created Balder. This issue not only introduced Balder, but also Loki, Odin, Heimdall, and most of the other Asgardian gods. For years, Marvel Comics portrayed Balder as Thor’s trusted friend and battle companion, even though Balder was described him in Norse mythology as Thor’s brother. (We’ll get to that.) In Marvel’s comics, Thor and Balder trained together growing up, and no one was a fiercer ally to Thor.
The Marvel Powers of Balder the Brave
Like all of Marvel’s Asgardians, Balder’s abilities include heightened strength, speed, and invulnerability, but he also controls vast light powers. Only Thor was arguably a better warrior than Balder. In addition to the other powers, Balder can create powerful light blasts, manipulate light to appear invisible, and make clouds of mist. And just as Thor has his enchanted hammer in the Marvel universe, Balder has an enchanted sword Svraden, that allows him to teleport.
Because of Odin’s paranoia regarding Balder’s prophesied death triggering Ragnarok, he had his wife Frigga place an enchantment on him. One that would make him invulnerable to all harm, at least while in the Asgardian realm. The belief was that if they could not kill Balder, it would not trigger Ragnarok.
Balder the Brave’s One Weakness and Loki
Balder did have one very odd weakness, however. Balder the Brave remained vulnerable to, of all things, mistletoe. So often, his enemies laced arrows and other weapons with it hoping to do harm to the Asgardian warrior. Loki, of course, discovered this weakness in Balder, and sought to exploit it and kill Baldur, but was ultimately waylaid in his attempts.
We wonder if the MCU Loki has created a similar weak point for the MCU version of Balder. Loki exploiting Balder’s aversion to mistletoe sure would make for an interesting Loki Marvel Christmas special.
Is Marvel’s Balder Thor’s Best Friend or Thor’s Brother Like in Norse Mythology?
In the 616 universe of Marvel Comics, Marvel did not portray Balder as a Prince of Asgard like Thor or Loki. He believed himself to be a foundling child, taken in as a ward of the Asgardian court. And that was the official company line on Balder for many decades, Balder was Thor’s friend but not his brother. It wasn’t until Thor Vol. 3 #10 in 2008 that Marvel Comics continuity lined up more with Norse mythology with Balder.
Although Balder believed he was only Thor’s friend and a ward of the Asgardian court, he was, in fact, the first son of Odin and Frigga. Odin abandoned him out of fear because the King of Asgard had premonitions about how Balder’s death would cause Ragnarok, the end of all things. He later regretted that decision and took his child back into the court. But he kept his true parentage a secret.
Thor and Balder fought together in many, many battles. And Balder has died and returned to life several times (as have all the Marvel Asgardians). He’s been a stalwart member of Thor’s cast of characters since the earliest days. At the peak of Thor’s comics popularity, under the direction of writer/artist Walter Simonson, Balder the Brave even received his own Marvel mini-series. In more recent years, he’s even been the King of Asgard itself… at least for a brief time. So if he’s so crucial to the overall Thor mythos, why then no Balder the Brave in the MCU?
Does Balder the Brave Appear in the MCU? His Mysterious Absence, Detailed
When Marvel Studios introduced Chris Hemsworth’s Thor in 2011, they managed to introduce most of his most well-known comic book family and supporting cast. There was Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, of course, but also their parents, Odin and Frigga, Heimdall, the Warriors Three, and Lady Sif. But there was one big omission from the comics in the MCU, and that was Thor’s best friend (and sometimes brother) Balder the Brave. A major character from the earliest Thor comics, Balder previously went unmentioned and unseen in any MCU project. This has led many to believe Balder didn’t even exist in the MCU. But now, thanks to Balder’s mention on Loki, we know that’s not true. Balder the Brave has officially appeared in the MCU and he is even part of the main MCU continuity.
But why didn’t Balder the Brave appear in Marvel’s cinematic world until now? There’s never been a concrete answer for Balder’s MCU omission. However, one can guess that Kevin Feige thought another sibling would muddle the rivalry of Thor vs. Loki. Although the MCU could have made Balder just a good friend, the role of the loyal companions was essentially filled by the Warriors Three and Lady Sif. Perhaps the MCU thought of Balder as just superfluous? It’s unknown, but until the third episode of Loki season 2, Balder the Brave just didn’t exist in the MCU’s version of Asgard.
Daniel Craig Almost Played Balder in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
When Marvel Studios was developing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we almost got an MCU appearance of Balder the Brave at last. In fact, he was nearly played by James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. Craig was all set to play Balder as a member of the Illuminati on Earth 838. And that would have officially confirmed that the character existed in the greater Marvel multiverse. Elizabeth Olsen also confirmed in interviews that she saw the concept art of Craig as Thor‘s Balder the Brave. Everything was ready to go, until Craig dropped out due to concerns over the pandemic filming. But he was this close to appearing in the MCU.
A Balder Confirmation in the MCU’s Disney+ Series Loki Might Lead to His Arrival
Even though evidence of Balder appeared before Loki in a branched timeline in the 19th century, he recognized Balder’s statue and knew exactly who he was. And since the Loki of the series is a variant that branched from the Sacred Timeline, it means Balder exists in the main MCU version of Asgard. But where is he? Balder certainly wasn’t on Asgard during the first three Thor movies and didn’t get a mention in Love and Thunder.
Given that we almost got Balder in Multiverse of Madness and his big name drop in Loki, it feels like Balder the Brave is gearing up for an MCU arrival at last.