Seemingly every time I’ve talked about the Thor movies on this site I’ve received comments which remind me that I like Thor and Thor: The Dark World more than most. Of course, then I’ll re-watch the first Thor and think, “It takes far longer than I remembered for this to get to the good stuff on Earth. Hold on. Why do I like these movies?”
Because Loki, obviously.
Because I’m a sucker for Thor’s consistent fish-out-of-water gags.
Because I’m a sucker for Shakespeare in space (with way more fight scenes), apparently.
Because the sci-fi/fantasy material on displays stands out as being so different from the other Marvel movies (or did before Guardians).
Because Thor is the only Avengers whose comics I actually consistently read, to the point that I was just checking out Mighty Thor #1 (starring the new female Thor, whose real identity I won’t spoil) on Marvel Unlimited last night.
And so on and so on. The point, though, is not to re-debate the merits of the Thor movies, but to ask if you at all care about the next one, Thor: Ragnarok (due 11/3/17). Marvel just formally announced the cast, and Kevin Feige said some really nice things (e.g., “The sheer, raw talent each of these actors brings to the screen can’t be quantified. Having any one of them join the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be an honor, and having all of them is incredible”).
All the people we already knew about (Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson along with Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Ruffalo, Elba and Hopkins) are now officially going to be in the movie, joined by two new cast members we didn’t know about (Jeff Goldblum and Karl Urban). Plus, Natalie Portman is officially out, and Jaimie Alexander is mysteriously MIA, possibly because she’s too busy with The Blacklist to return as Sif (although Alexander took to Twitter to indicate she could still show up in Ragnarok).
All of the pop culture sites are about to cue up Wikipedia-esque biographies for characters with names like Hela (to be played by Blanchett), Valkyrie (Thompson), Grandmaster (Goldblum) and Skurge (Urban).
For example, the Grandmaster is “one of the oldest living beings in the universe, coming from one of the first intelligent races to evolve after the Big Bang. He once possessed the Mind Gem, one of the six Infinity Gems, but he lost it to Thanos.” With those Thanos connections, you can see where he might fit into all of this, especially with Ragnarok likely setting up Infinity War-Part 1.
Furthermore, Grandmaster “is a cosmic game player whose preferred game is pitting two opposing teams against each other,” and an early rumor pegged Ragnarok as somehow involving Thor and Hulk on a galactic road trip together where they end up in some kind of gladiator combat, although if that was ever actually true it could have easily changed through rewrites by now.
Skurge is better known as the villain Executioner in the comics, usually depicted with his signature double-bladed battle axe. He is usually not the one waging the war against Thor, but instead a puppet soldier manipulated by others. Think of all the Marvel movies and how often there’s a mini-villain the good guy has to defeat before fighting the real Big Bad (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Algrim/Kurse in The Dark World, for example). That could be Skurge’s role in Ragnarok.
I’d like to say I’ve personally encountered every one of these characters in the Thor comics I’ve read (which is most of the stuff written by Jason Aaron since 2012), but that would be a lie. Hela and Valkyrie have popped up on the periphery on occasion, and if Skurge was around I don’t remember him. I’ve only ever glimpsed Grandmaster through one of Marvel’s mobile video games.
That might be because I picked up the Thor comics right after the Ragnarok storyline, in which (spoiler alert) literally everyone died (yes, even Thor and Loki). Ragnarok is, after all, the Asgardian apocalypse, and sweet lady Wikipedia indicates Hela, Valkyrie and Skurge all had major roles to play in the way Ragnarok went down in the comics. But when I picked things up everyone was being reincarnated, Loki came back as a woman somehow and Asgard was floating above a small town in Oklahoma (don’t worry – the comic was fully aware of its own absurdity).
So, yeah, I’m no good to you for any original insight as to what might happen with these characters in the Ragnarok movie.
But, wow, look at that cast: Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo and Jeff mother flippin’ Goldblum are joining the usual Thor players. This might not be a Doctor Strange-caliber cast (we now pause for an obligatory reference to that film’s unfortunate whitewashing controversy, which is overshadowing just how many amazing actors are going to be in that movie), but it’s certainly stronger than recent Thor movies (sorry, not sorry Christopher Eccleston). If you are someone who doesn’t really care about the Thor movies, is this cast swaying you at all?
Thor: Ragnarok, to be directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), begins filming in Queensland, Australia soon and opens November 3rd, 2017.