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And here I thought your kind was supposed to be so enlightened. So much better than us. So much smarter. And yet you hide out here in the woods; like a coward.

–-Baldur to Kratos

Baldur (also known as The Stranger) is the son of Odin and Freya, half-brother of Thor, uncle of Magni and Modi and the main antagonist in God of War (2018).

In Norse Mythology

Baldur (Also known as Balder, and in Old Norse: Baldr) was the son of Odin (the King of the Gods) and his wife Frigg. He was known to be beautiful and just and was the favourite of the Aesir gods.

Most legends about him concern his death. After he and Frigg had a dream in which they saw his death (with dreams being prophetic in Norse mythology), Frigg asked everything in creation to promise to not harm Baldur, only forgetting to ask mistletoe, as she thought it was harmless. Icelandic stories tell how the gods amused themselves by throwing objects at him (knowing that he was immune from harm). The blind god Höd, deceived by Loki, killed Baldur by hurling mistletoe, the only thing that could hurt him.

After Balder’s funeral, the messenger Hermod was sent to Hel, the goddess of the land of the dead also known as Hel, to ask for Baldur's return. Hel asked that every being in creation weep for Baldur, and every being did, except the giantess Thökk (which was Loki in disguise), who refused to weep the tears that would release Baldur from death.

Baldur's death was the start of Ragnarök: The Death of the Norse Gods.

Biography

Early life

Baldur was born to Freya and Odin as the half-brother of Thor and Tyr. At some point in his life, his mother placed a spell on him so he could no longer feel, he hated his mother after this and vowed to never forgive her.

God of War (2018)

Baldur answers to Odin's call to hunt down Kratos, he makes his move at the latter's home. Kratos is first unwilling to give in and fight Baldur (even through Baldur continuously taunts and punches him). He finally gives in and punches Baldur in the face, sending the latter to the ground. When Kratos tries to tell him to leave, Baldur exclaims "My turn!" before punching Kratos in the face and sending him flying across the house. The two start to brutally fight and Kratos is able to overpower Baldur, but the latter seems unaffected by the punches and reveals he doesn't feel pain, exclaiming he will beat Kratos after the older Spartan tires out. Kratos seemingly kills Baldur by snapping his neck.

However, as Baldur is invulnerable, he survived. Gathering his nephews, Magni and Modi, they visit the imprisoned ambassador of the Norse gods, Mimir, hoping to gain the knowledge of Kratos' and his son. Unfortunately, Mimir doesn't know where the two are and even when Baldur promises to put in a good word for him when he returns to Odin, Mimir isn't impressed and told them to leave. The trio then leaves just as Kratos and his son arrive.

Later, when Kratos, Mimir, and Atreus prepare to go to Jötunheim, Baldur ambushes them and goads Atreus into attacking him, abducting him shortly after and fleeing on a dragon. Kratos intercepts them, and fights Baldur, who eventually makes it to the Gateway, and puts in Asgard as the destination. After another brutal fist fight, Kratos alters the destination to Helheim, sending them flying into the Realm of the Dead. During a moment stranded, Baldur comes across an illusion taking the form of his memories, specifically the time he confronted his mother, Freya, over her spell that made him invulnerable. Since the spell made him invulnerable, he could no longer feel anything, from pain to pleasure. Unable to taste during feasts or feel pleasure from women, Baldur angrily lashes out at his mother, despite her reasons and motives. Kratos and Atreus, in-hiding, witness Baldur act irrationally towards the illusion and learn of his connection to Freya.

After finding someway to escape Helheim, Baldur learns of Kratos's journey into The World Serpent's stomach and thus wounds the giant serpent to expel the two. Emerging from the icy waters of the lake, Baldur meets his mother for the first time in decades. Despite his time away, Baldur remains resentful towards her over the spell that made him invulnerable but while Freya remains remorseful over how he feels Baldur would not hear it. He tries to attack her but Kratos gets in his way, leading to another fight between them but Freya constantly uses her magic to separate and restrain the two, blind to her belief that she can reason with him and uncaring of the fact that he desires to kill her. However, when Atreus steps between him and Kratos, Baldur strikes the boy in the chest but to his shock, mistletoe pierces his hand, removing the spell over him. For the first time in years, Baldur is able to feel the world around him and the pain with it, to his utter joy and Freya's horror.

Being vulnerable once again, Kratos and Atreus battle with Baldur again, revelling in the pain he feels but Freya grows more desperate in her mission to protect Baldur from an unnecessary death, even reviving the dead Giant, Thamur, to stop the three from fighting. Her efforts end in failure as Atreus calls the World Serpent to kill the Giant. Back where they started, Kratos beats Baldur to submission but relents on killing him at Atreus's wishes on that he is no longer a threat.

Confronting each other one last time, Freya pleads her son to find understanding in her actions in an attempt to make peace with him. Unable to let go of his anger, Baldur refuses and tries to strangle Freya to death, without her resisting, but Kratos intervenes again. Claiming to end the cycle, Kratos snaps Baldur's neck, killing him. The last thing he says: "Snow..."

Freya is left devastated and enraged upon his death, despite Baldur choosing the path that leads to his death and of his attempt on her life. She swears revenge upon Kratos but takes her son's body with her and disappears.

Aftermath

Despite her tragic fury, Mimir believes that given time, Freya will come to accept that Baldur's death was for the best and that the Nine Realms were better with her alive. However, after finally reaching the Realm of the Giants and releasing Faye's ashes, thus completing their journey, Baldur's death triggers an occurrence over the realms. Mimir believes that Fimbulwinter, the terrible winter that lasts three years, is going to happen. Worse, the winter preludes the coming of Ragnarök, something that was believed not to happen for a few hundred more years. Baldur's death accelerates that.

In a dream Atreus has years later, he and his father are confronted outside of their home by a cloaked man with a mystic hammer: Baldur's brother, Thor, likely coming to avenge his brother and fallen sons.

Personality

Unlike the benevolent depiction of him in the myth, Baldur is extremely cruel, ruthless and sadistic as he seemed to take pleasure in hurting Kratos and Atreus. It's highly likely that since he can't feel anything, including pain, he inflicts it upon others both to try and feel something and out of anger that others feel and he doesn't. Baldur hates his mother Freya for placing a spell on him so he could no longer feel, despite her motivation being to protect him. Baldur laments that he can no longer taste during feasts or experience bodily pleasures, angrily claiming to his mother that he would rather choose death over not feeling. Since then, he vowed that he will never forgive her. It is likely that he accepted the task to hunt down Kratos because Odin promised that he could release him from the spell, but Mimir believes that Odin was not actually capable of such a thing. Overall, Baldur is extremely damaged emotionally and volatile, evidently when he hysterically attacked the illusion of his memory of his mother, screaming that he should've killed her then.

Baldur is rather talkative during a fight, as he taunts, mocks and rages at Kratos throughout all their battles. The Spartan himself said in their first encounter, that he talked too much.

After being pierced by mistletoe that broke the spell over him, Baldur could actually feel once more and revelled in it, including the pain. Thus he continued fighting Kratos to experience new forms of pain, despite Freya's desperate pleas to reason with him.

Even when faced with his mother's love he could not let go of his hatred for her. Finding that she could not stop interfering with his life, he did not hesitate in attempting to kill her despite her pleas for forgiveness. If not for the intervention of Kratos, he would have surely succeeded.

After Kratos snapped his neck, Baldur's final moments seemed to be not of anger or rage, but relief that he could feel again, such as the snow's cold.

Powers and Abilities

Superhuman Strength - Baldur has strength far surpassing that of any mortal or monster. He has enough strength to harm Jörmungandr (The World Serpent), and is seemingly almost equal in strength to Kratos, (Although it should be noted that Kratos was caught off guard the first and second time and seemed to only want to escape the fights, while the third time he could easily fight him on equal footing and was focused on ending the cycle of vengeance). His belt also greatly increases his strength two-fold. Only Thor and Odin surpassed his strength.

Superhuman Speed and Agility - Baldur, possibly due to his power over light, can move at extremely high speeds, much faster than Kratos. He uses this effect in combat, darting around enemies before striking them.

Durability - Due to being a god, Baldur is extremely durable, even without his invulnerability, allowing him to take extreme punishment, however, his natural durability is not enough to stop Kratos from killing him or dealing what would normally be death blows over their many battles.

Light - Due to being the Nordic God of Light, Baldur is capable of using light in combat. The runes on his body, as well as his eyes, will light up when he uses his power. He can use light to move at extreme speeds, to send a shock wave through the ground, cause an explosion of energy, or to power his punches even more.

Invulnerability - Baldur's greatest power, given to him from his mother Freya, who cast a spell when he was born as an attempt to stop him from dying a needless death as was prophesied. He is invulnerable to anything, even Kratos' Blades of Chaos, weapons from Greece. He can be harmed, but no serious injury can be inflicted, nor will his injuries last, as his body will naturally heal at an extremely fast rate. He also cannot feel any injuries, nor anything at all, enabling him to continue to fight without being slowed by his wounds, even allowing him to easily attack The World Serpent and walk out of the cold depths of the lake he resided in. Despite his invulnerability, Baldur can be dazed and incapacitated for a brief moment, evidently when Baldur's neck was snapped when he first faced Kratos. His only weakness is mistletoe, the one plant his mother did not foresee harming him. Upon striking Atreus and stabbing his hand with a mistletoe arrow, he could not only feel again but could be harmed, much to his joy.

Additional Elemental Affinities - In addition to his light elemental abilities, Baldur was able to gain access to use of both fire and ice elements. The first was ice when Kratos had struck him on the shoulder using the Leviathan Axe and the second was fire when Atreus had detonated the undead Giant's ring on top of Baldur during the final battle with him.

Hand-to-Hand Combat - Most likely because of his physical abilities and invulnerability, Baldur does not use or need weapons in combat. He favors his own physical fighting capabilities above all else and is extremely skilled. He can quickly strike, utilizing punches and kicks. He also uses elbows, knees and even some grappling, including suplexing Kratos in their first fight. His skill in pure hand-to-hand combat is unmatched, showing more skill than even Kratos (a trained spartan warrior with many victories under his belt) only losing due to Kratos' superior strength and weapons (although during their first fight Kratos did eventually overpower him unarmed, by nearly choking him out with a rear-naked choke and eventually breaking his neck unarmed). He can couple his moves with his superior speed, strength, and control over light to decimate enemies, even Jörmungandr.

Gallery

Trivia

  • His Greek equivalent (in terms of attributes) is Apollo. Some guesses at its etymology suggest a link with "Dagr", the personified day, so he can be seen as a counterpart to Eos.
  • Some Norse text describes him as the god of love and beauty which would make him equivalent to Eros, however, he didn't show any type of amokinesis abilities in the game.
  • Baldur's invulnerability was somewhat similar to the Greek Curse of Achilles.
  • Baldur's final battle with Kratos ended the same way their first battle did, with Kratos snapping his neck.
  • In Norse mythology, Baldur's death was the beginning of Ragnarök, the end of many gods like Odin, Thor and Loki.
    • This may be hinting that future games will include not only other gods but also their deaths (similar to the original trilogy where the death of Ares symbolized the end of the Greek Gods).
  • According to Mimir, Baldur is Odin's finest tracker.
  • Many fans mistook Baldur for Loki, the god of mischief.
  • At the conclusion of the game, Kratos states that Baldur may not have initially been tracking down him, but rather the giantess Faye, whom he was carrying the ashes of throughout the entire game.
  • In an ironic twist of fate, Freya's attempt to prevent Baldur's needless death could be argued to be the very reason for it, as Kratos only killed him to protect Freya herself.
  • The red runes on Baldur’s back across his shoulders transliterates to the word “cursed”.
  • In Gesta Danorum Baldur is depicted as a jealous, arrogant braggart and highly malevolent, possibly setting precedent for the game's characterization. However, the entire text is extremely polemic against Germanic paganism, so it might not accurately reflect the beliefs of pre-Christian Norse.
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