This MCU Movie Failed Its Prized Oscar-Winning Actor

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has managed to snag some top-tier talent over the last few years. From the two-time Oscar-nominated and three-time Golden Globe winner Robert Downey Jr. (RDJ) to Michael Douglas, Michael Keaton, and Mark Ruffalo, superhero movies in the Marvel Landscape do not settle for second best when making casting decisions. Let us not forget that RDJ’s denoument as Tony Stark in Avengers: Endgame was deemed Oscar-worthy on many accounts.

Marvel Studios MCU
Marvel Studios’ ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Screening | Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Avengers: Infinity War

Given that Marvel President Kevin Feige is committed to putting out action-oriented yet character-driven cinematic spectacles, it should come as no surprise that the actors chosen are carefully selected to ensure believable interpersonal dynamics and convincing internal turmoil. 

Though the MCU has been widely successful, the universe has made a few mistakes in its time, especially concerning its villains. Sometimes, MCU villains receive the short end of the stick — existing as foils to the heroes — antithetical to the saviors’ identities — and lacking motivations for harm beyond half-baked origins. One villain in the MCU failed to impress and, considering the actor chosen, it was one of the biggest disappointments in the MCU to date. 

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ wasted Cate Blanchett’s presence in the MCU 

Cate Blanchett signed the dotted line to portray the Goddess of Death Hela in Taika Waititi’s bombastic and hilarious Thor: Ragnarok. While the movie was quite the refresher for its title character — and a step away from the darker, somewhat Shakespearean tendencies of its predecessors — the film’s villain lacked the three-dimensionality Thor (and others) received. 

Ruthless kills and a flair for the dramatic characterize Hela. With dark makeup under the eyes, an extravagant headpiece, and a tight black leather getup, Hela maintained an air of pompous superiority and omniscience; she walked, talked, and breathed villainy. 

The problem: the explanation for Hela’s evil behavior is a bit weak, if not downright cliché (tracing back to some good ole parental strife), and seems to boil down to a very, very long-held grudge. Blanchett can sashay and slay with ease, yet the character becomes a caricature — a black and white “type” of being — as opposed to an actual, more morally gray and realistic person. As a result, Hela lacks emotional depth and complexity. And, Blanchett loses her Oscar-winning vibe, becoming just another villain in a big-budget movie. 

Cate Blanchett deserved (and could have given fans) more

Cate Blanchett is a six-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner. She has played a gamut of roles — from Elizabeth to Notes on a Scandal and Blue Jasmine — she can climb into any shoe and give a convincing performance. All she needs is a screenplay with depth, a character with a reason for being, and something tangible to grab onto — all the things Thor: Ragnarok did not provide. 

Cate Blanchett captures Hela with ease, yet she never travels beyond the character’s savage nature, for she’s given no proof that anything exists beyond that point (narratively speaking). While Cate Blanchett does a “good enough” job, she possesses the talent for greatness. She could have been an exception to the rule concerning MCU villains, yet the movie wasted her skill set. In short, Thor: Ragnarok grabbed an A-list actor and made her a B-list character.