There’s a lot of hype for the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. We see a lot of new characters on screen and we want to know who they are, their backstories, their motivations, and their creators. This might give us insight as to what the plot might be for the movie, and what role that character will play in it.
Cate Blanchett will be playing the goddess of death, Hela, who looks to be the main antagonist for the movie. From the looks of the trailers, she looks pissed, and she looks powerful.
The Real Hel
Hela is actually taken from the Norse Mythological being called Hel. She ruled as queen over the region by the same name, located in Nifleheim. Odin appoints her to this position and she is granted a portion of the dead, making her a goddess in her own right. Hel plays a major part in the attempted resurrection of Baldr, in an attempt to avoid Ragnarok, the obliteration of the old Norse gods. She poses an offer to let Baldr go if all the people of the world wept for him. Baldr was never resurrected because one person refused to weep for him.
Marvel Comic’s Hela
In the Marvel comic books world, Hela is a different being entirely. She first appears in Journey into Mystery #102, as an adaptation from the Norse Mythology by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. She was born a giant, and still was a child of another Loki who died during a previous Ragnarok. Odin eventually appoints her to be Goddess of the Dead, ruler of the souls who dwelt in Hel and Niflheim. Her attempts to expand her power reached to Valhalla, and eventually she came to conflict with Odin and Thor.
In the comics, Hela actually conspires with Loki to slay the god Balder and bring about Ragnarok. She prepared to attack Asgard after Balder had died, but Odin used his powers to prevent Balder from dying. All of this was an attempt to expand the breadth of her realm, to gain more than what Odin had originally granted her. In her attempts she even uses Valkyrie, and forms alliances with other death gods to aid her in her war against Odin and Thor. Yet the son of Odin is always successful in thwarting her plans, and with each defeat her rage grew ever more slightly to where it was less an attempt to reign over more real estate, and more to exact revenge on the old gods.
There might be a number of flashbacks to tell the story of Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. From what we’ve seen in the trailers, she does show up to confront Thor early in the movie, and destroys his hammer. This could be a long-standing grudge against Odin and somewhat of an attempt to remove obstacles to her greater plan. Other images indicate Asgard getting rolled over in a wave of destruction akin to a scene from Independence Day. This event might be the first Ragnarok. Later we see Valkyrie and her armies, mounted on a group of winged horses, descend on Hela to defeat her. This might be a prelude to Hela’s first demise after the first Ragnarok. It might also be the event that causes Valkyrie to fall to the service of Grandmaster.
So Many Questions
She conspires with Loki in the comics, so what is her relation to Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? She is daughter to Loki in the mythos, while she is daughter to another Loki in the comics. Does that mean the current Asgard in the MCU is actually a second iteration? Was there a previous Ragnarok, and was it successful? How does all of this tie into Avengers: Infinity War? We hardly see Odin in the movie, but he is listed as being on the cast. What will be his role in dealing with Hela in the MCU?
The MCU Hela does well in paying homage to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in both acting and in costuming. At the same time, this version of Hela manages to acknowledge the Norse myths surrounding her character.
Thor: Ragnarok will be out in theaters on November 3rd.