The third installment of the Thor franchise is set to debut Nov. 3, and with an entirely new look and a whole new cast of characters, Thor: Ragnarok might be the best Thor film so far. If you were perplexed by Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) absence during Captain America: Civil War, Ragnarok is going to explain everything.
Set two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Asgardian prince finds himself at the mercy of the diabolical Hela (Cate Blanchett). The goddess of death has taken over Asgard, captured Thor, stolen his beloved hammer Mjolnir, and has catapulted him to the planet Sakaar, also known as Planet Hulk.
With a new otherworldly planet, a fresh new ‘do, and a new career as a gladiator, Thor also seems to have his eye on a new woman: Valkyrie, played by Creed’s Tessa Thompson. So what happened to the romance between Thor and his long time lady friend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman)? This is the unexpected reason why Jane has vanished from the Thor franchise.
Let me upgrade you
Thor has often been criticised as one of the weakest franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From its cheesy plot points to the rather dry romance between Thor and Jane, much can be improved. With MCU newcomer Taika Waiti taking the reigns, it was time to elevate the franchise — literally.
Jane’s home is on Earth and Thor spends all of Ragnarok on Sakaar. In fact, the God of Thunder has spent the last two years strolling through the cosmos looking for the highly coveted Infinity Stones. That’s a long-distance relationship that no one has time for. Therefore, it was the perfect time for him to find a lady love who hailed from someplace closer to his home.
Portman confirmed her departure from the MCU back in August 2016 when she told The Wall Street Journal she was not currently booked for any MCU flicks. Still, there is no need to cry over the demise of Jane and Thor. Hemsworth told Collider Ragnarok has “some very respectable fun with how that relationship may have come to a mutual end.”
Don’t get it twisted, Tessa Thompson’s presence in Thor is not simply to act as a love interest. In fact, Valkyrie is an Asgardian warrior and bounty hunter with a pretty kickass military record. Thor and Valkyrie don’t exactly start off on the best footing. After all, she’s complicit in his kidnapping and selling him out to the Sakaar leader, The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).
Valkyrie’s fierceness didn’t deter Thor though. In fact, Hemsworth said of the characters’ initial meeting:
He’s absolutely smitten by her and because of her history and being a Valkyrie and all of that. But she’s also this beautiful woman, so he’s kind of caught off guard. And she can, you know, she could beat the s*** out of him if she wanted. So I think he hasn’t come up against that very often.
Unfortunately, because people are the worst, there was a ton of backlash when Thompson, a black woman, was cast in the role. Still, Thompson took the criticism in stride. She told Collider, “They were very upset that this doesn’t honor Norse mythology … if you read Norse mythology, it doesn’t really make sense. And, you know, Idris Elba needs company. He can’t be the only black person in the neighborhood.”
The right woman for the job
When casting for the role of Valkyrie, director Waititi was adamant that he wanted an actress who was capable of doing the job. That was his only requirement.
Hemsworth reiterated the director when he spoke to Bustle, saying, “At the end of the day she was the best person for the job, and when people see her play that character, they’ll absolutely agree. She’s pretty fantastic.”
— MCU News & Tweets (@MCU_Tweets) May 27, 2017
Fans of the Thor comics will recognize Sakarr as the gladiatorial planet where The Hulk found himself enslaved. In the comics, The Hulk becomes Sakaar’s ruler after winning hundreds of battles. Though the film depicts Sakaar as colorful, it’s still gritty, war-torn, and pretty unyielding. Essentially it’s nowhere you’d want to spend an extended period of time.
Apparently, it’s so violent that anything can fall out of the sky at any moment and crush you to death. It certainly doesn’t sound like the palaces that Thor is accustomed to.
Who the heck is Hela?
Blanchett as a villain? Yes, please! The Academy Award winner is about to kill it as Hela. From her introduction in the trailer, obliterating Thor’s Mjölnir, we already know we’re in for an amazing ride. MCU has been rather hush-hush about Hela’s motivations, but we do know that she comes to Asgard and destroys it.
If you’re an avid comic book reader, don’t expect the film Hela to be the same version you know. Instead of taking her directly from the comics, Blanchett’s Hela is an incarnation of the comics version and Gorr, the God Butcher. She can manifest an infinite number of weapons and can also kill people with one touch. Waititi explained, “Thor has never fought anyone tougher than this lady.”
We’re shook already.
Rare female leads in the MCU
First and foremost, let’s just think about the fact that Hela is the first female villain ever in the MCU! Executive producer Brad Winderbaum told Nerdist that Blanchett’s Hela was “one of the best villains we’ve had, maybe the best.”
A leading lady in her own right, Valkyrie is also a fearsome warrior — though perhaps less terrifying than Hela. Thompson told Bustle:
Valkyrie having representation of a strong female character, also because I just happen to be a brown woman — that’s so important in cinema. As much as we want righteous, fantastic, strong characters, we also want weak ones and bad ones and sh*tty ones. We want all kinds. Representation means the spectrum.
A story of redemption
Thor: Ragnarok is about to change everything. In order to take the throne as the King of Asgard, fans of the franchise are going to have to witness some serious character development from Thor. It seems that our hero will finally learn that what he wants and what’s best for his people are not necessarily the same thing. In Ragnarok, Thor is going to decide if he’s up for the challenge.
The idea of worthiness, what makes somebody worthy, what helps someone find self-worth is at the core of Thor as a character. That theme remains central in this film; however in the first film where he was a petulant prince who had to learn humility, in this one he wants to become a better man and learn to accept himself as a leader, as a king, as someone who can lead Asgard.
Follow Aramide on Twitter @midnightrami.
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!