Marvel unveiled its ensemble line-up for 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, bringing in some previously rumored actors and characters, but leaving many question marks about who the characters are for the lay-person. It is best not to go into anything named “Ragnarok” unprepared, so Newsarama is filling in some blanks about these classic Marvel Comics’ characters making their way to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Cate Blanchett will play Marvel Studios’ first lead villain who is a woman (in your face, Stephen Colbert), and in many ways Hela is the villain of Marvel Comics’ Asgard.
Created in 1964’s Journey Into Mystery #102 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Hela is the goddess of death in the Asgardian hierarchy, and rules two of the Ten Realms – Hel and Nifleheim. Not content with ruling what is essentially an Asgardian version of Hell, Hela has tried on numerous occasions to conquer the other realms.
And from the looks of that first Thor: Ragnarok concept art, Hela is making an approach on Asgard via the Rainbow Bridge.
Interestingly, in Marvel Comics’ lore Hel is the daughter of Loki – albeit a different version of him, before a previous Ragnarok event. At the end of Thor: The Dark World, Loki sat on the throne of Asgard.
Creed’s Tessa Thompson will take on the role of another side of Asgard’s death business, as Valkyrie, an Asgardian warrior who takes her name from the women who usher honored heroes to Valhalla – the Norse version of Heaven - if they die in a worthy battle.
Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in 1970’s Avengers #83 and based on the mythological Brynhildr, Valkyrie has taken on additional duties on Earth as a member of both the Defenders and the Avengers.
An early flashback sequence in Thor #299-300 revealed that Valkyrie and Thor were lovers for a time in the ancient past, which could be factored into Thor: Ragnarok in some fashion given Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige’s recent confirmation that Natalie Portman would not be reprising her role as Jane Foster - and the likelihood that Sif, should she appear as Jamie Alexander said she would, she won't survive the experience.
Skurge – better known to Marvel Comics’ readers as the Executioner – will be brought to MCU life by multi-time comic book adaptation starrer Karl Urban.
Skurge is perhaps one of Thor’s best known arch-rivals outside of Loki, and was frequently paired with the God of Mischief, as well as the Enchantress – with whom he was in love.
Interestingly, in Marvel Comics’ most recent version of Ragnarok, Skurge sacrified himself to save Thor and others from the encroaching armies of Hela. Skurge, like Enchantress, was also an early member of the Masters of Evil alongside none other than Captain America: Civil War's Baron Zemo.
In the grand scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the introduction of the Grandmaster is arguably the most important – even if he’s not Thor: Ragnarok’s headline villain.
In comic book lore, the Grandmaster is often paired with Guardians of the Galaxy’s the Collector (Benicio del Toro) as part of the Elders of the Universe, who for a time held control of the Infinity Gems.
In comic books, the Collector and the Grandmaster aren’t actually related but consider all their fellow Elders as brothers. However, in the current movie-inspired Guardians of the Galaxy animated series, they’re revealed to be actual brothers who are feuding with one another.