This Friday, the third chapter in the God of Thunder’s standalone films, Thor: Ragnarok, storms its way into theaters in the U.S., and based on the early reviews by critics and word of mouth from our friends overseas, it sounds like fans are in for one hell (or should we say “Hel”) of a ride. However, while the prospect of a Thor/Hulk buddy team-up is certainly enticing, we can’t forget about all of the exciting characters from the Thor mythos that are poised to make their live-action debut under the Marvel Studios banner.
Whether you’re a relatively new comic book fan or you’re just invested in the big-screen adaptations, we here at Epicstream want to help you get familiar with the new faces the upcoming film will introduce. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about Thor: Ragnarok’s new characters:
In Thor: Ragnarok, Jeff Goldblum plays a character by the name of En Dwi Gast, better known to comic book fans as The Grandmaster. He’s one of the Elders of the Universe – a group of ageless fanatics with villainous tendencies – and because the Elders are each lone survivors of their respective species, they consider themselves to be siblings. As such, The Grandmaster is the de facto “brother” of The Collector, who was played by Benicio del Toro in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, in contrast to his “brother,” whose obsession is collecting, The Grandmaster has an affinity for playing games. He even went as far as to study the forms of games from millions of worlds throughout the Marvel Multiverse, perfecting them each and every time.
The Grandmaster’s love of games, despite sounding innocent in nature, is often what positions him as the villain of the various stories he’s appeared in. This is largely because his idea of “games” includes arranging high-stakes contests and tournaments, and forcing contestants to compete against their will. Perhaps the greatest example of this is Contest of Champions, in which The Grandmaster abducted heroes from Earth to fight against a team of heroes assembled by Death after The Collector was killed. Then, in the Marvel/DC crossover known as JLA/Avengers, The Grandmaster and DC’s Krona forced the Justice League and the Avengers to compete in a galactic scavenger hunt for some of the most powerful items in either universe.
In addition to a genius-level intellect, The Grandmaster is gifted with a number of abilities achieved by way of the Power Primordial – the residual energy that was left over following the Big Bang. These abilities include superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability, as well as immortality, psionics, and energy manipulation. The latter of these powers is particularly important, as it allows The Grandmaster to teleport himself and others across astronomical distances, which is essential when it comes to drafting contestants for his games.Advertisement
Director Taika Waititi won’t just be behind the camera in Thor: Ragnarok: He’ll also be playing Korg, a member of the alien race known as Kronans. In fact, it’s Korg’s shared history with both Thor and the Hulk that makes him such obvious choice for Ragnarok.
Korg’s first appearance was in the pages of Journey into Mystery #83 back in 1962, which was also the debut of Thor, himself. After being defeated by the God of Thunder, Korg was imprisoned by the Red King on the planet Sakaar and forced into slavery. It was here that he eventually met the Hulk, as the Green Goliath was exiled to Sakaar by the Illuminati in the fan-favorite story arc Planet Hulk. Korg and Hulk quickly became allies, and when the Hulk returned to Earth to exact revenge on the Illuminati, Korg was right by his side.
Like all Kronans, Korg possesses superhuman strength, stamina, and durability. Additionally, thanks to his gladiatorial experience on Sakaar, Korg is an incredibly formidable hand-to-hand combatant.
Skurge the Executioner, who’s played by Karl Urban, was long considered a D-list Thor villain. The illegitimate son of a Storm Giant and an Asgardian, Skurge is a highly skilled warrior, but despite his prowess, he was often depicted as nothing more than the lovesick lapdog of Amora the Enchantress. It was during this time that Skurge first encountered the Hulk, who he fought at the behest of the Enchantress after being transported to Asgard. However, Skurge’s Bloodaxe had no effect on the Green Goliath, and Skurge was swiftly defeated.
After years of serving the Enchantress, Skurge finally had his shining moment in the one-shot story known as Skurge’s Last Stand, which sees Thor and his Asgardian brethren on the run from Hela’s evil forces after traveling to Hel to save the lives of innocent humans. However, upon reaching the Helgate, the group realizes that someone must stay and defend Gjallerbru to allow the others to escape. The God of Thunder naturally volunteers, but Skurge knocks him out and defends the bridge in his stead, fighting – and dying – as a hero, thus earning him a place in Valhalla.
Thanks to his hybrid Storm Giant and Asgardian physiology, Skurge possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, agility, and his tissue is considerably denser than traditional Asgardians. He’s a fierce warrior, and while he’s highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat, he’s traditionally seen wielding his trusty battle-axe known as the Bloodaxe.
Voiced in the film by Clancy Brown, Surtur is a demon from the extra-dimensional plane of Muspelheim, and he’s based on the fire giant Surtr of Norse mythology. Having been imprisoned inside the Earth by Odin, Surtur is a persistent foe to the people of Asgard. However, in The Surtur Saga, the fate of both Asgard and Midgard hung precariously in the balance, as Surtur had plans to destroy the entire universe. This resulted in an iconic (and rare) team-up between Thor, Loki, and Odin, the latter of whom sacrificed himself to defeat the trio’s common enemy.
Of course, with this being comics, Surtur and Odin have both come back since this epic battle. In fact, when Odin returned from the dimensional rift that he and Surtur had fallen into, it was revealed that Odin absorbed the demon’s essence. He’s eventually possessed by it, which allows Surtur to recreate his physical form, and he and Odin’s feud has continued to play out sporadically in the Thor books.
From a power standpoint, Surtur is perhaps one of the God of Thunder’s most fearsome and formidable foes. Standing at over one thousand feet tall, his strength far surpasses that of Thor, and he’s capable of pyrokinesis, cosmic manipulation, telekinesis, and inter-dimensional teleportation. On top of all that, he’s also immortal, so even if he’s defeated in battle, he’ll always be back for more.
Next up on the Thor: Ragnarok roster is Brunnhilde, AKA Valkyrie, who’s played by Tessa Thompson. She’s Asgardian-born, and under the appointment of Odin, she led the Valkyrior – a group of warrior goddesses who brought the souls of those who died honorably in battle to Valhalla. She was also once the lover of a mortal reincarnation of Thor named Siegfried, but Odin wiped both of their memories of these events after resurrecting them.
When Odin cut off all ties with Midgard, Valkyrie – feeling bitter towards Odin – went in search of a new purpose, but ended up becoming a slave of the Enchantress. However, it was during her time under the Enchantress’ spell that Valkyrie first came into contact with the Defenders, due to the Enchantress placing Valkyrie's power and consciousness into the body of a woman named Barbara Norriss so she could aid the Defenders (Enchantress’ allies at the time) in escaping from the sorceress Casiolena. Eventually, thanks to Doctor Strange, Valkyrie’s consciousness was returned to her true body, and after banishing the Enchantress to the crystal of souls, she opted to remain with the Defenders on Earth rather than return to Asgard.
Still, despite spending most of her time on Midgard, Valkyrie possesses all of the common abilities of her fellow Asgardians, such as superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, longevity, etc. What’s more, her combat skills, both armed and unarmed, surpass those of nearly all Asgardian women and are rivaled perhaps only by Sif.
Cate Blanchett’s villainous villainess Hela is arguably the most anticipated new character in Thor: Ragnarok, and she certainly has a long and tangled history with the God of Thunder in the source material. Based on the Norse goddess Hel, Hela is the Asgardian Goddess of Death, and she rules over the realms of Hel and Niflheim. Perhaps more interesting, though, is that she was born in Jotunheim and is the daughter of an earlier incarnation of Loki – one who died in a previous Ragnarok cycle.
Throughout her tenure, Hela’s primary objective has been to gain control over more Asgardian souls, including not only those that dwelled in Valhalla but those of both Odin and Thor. In one particular instance, she actually succeeded in stealing a piece of Odin’s soul while he was on the Sea of Eternal Night, which resulted in the creation of a powerful entity known as Infinity. Hela then unleashed Infinity on the Nine Realms, leading to Thor dying twice, Hela dying once, and both of them being resurrected (because comics).
More recently, Hela has turned her attention to the Mad Titan, himself, Thanos. After losing control over Hel, Hela sought Thanos’ assistance in reclaiming the realm by murdering Proxima Midnight – one of the children of Thanos – to demonstrate her power.
And speaking of power, Hela certainly has no shortage. Usual Asgardian abilities aside, Hela is also capable of manipulating magic, which, among other things, allows her to travel the astral plane, shoot deadly bolts of energy from her hands, and even channel that energy to strike a powerful blow that she calls the Hand of Glory. Additionally, as the Goddess of Death, Hela has the power to control life and death in Asgard, which literally makes her one of Thor’s deadliest enemies.