Who Is Thor: Ragnarok’s Hela, and What Threat Does She Pose to Asgard?


When the Jack O’ Lanterns are finally put to rest, and we are all sick of fun-size candy, the final chapter of everyone’s least favorite Marvel Studios’ solo series will arrive: Thor: Ragnarok. But this time around, we might not all leave the theater hankering for the next Avengers outing!

Okay, maybe we will… but still! Who isn’t pumped for Infinity War?

Each trailer dropped for Thor’s upcoming adventure has promised beloved Marvel characters and storylines, loads of action, plenty of laughs, big weapons, and even bigger stars like Jurassic Park alum Jeff Goldblum, and two-time Academy Award winning actress Cate Blanchett, who will be portraying the Grandmaster and Hela, respectively.

To prepare ourselves for this Marvel Studios’ epic, which looks only slightly like a Guardians of the Galaxy rip-off, viewers have to understand the film’s frighteningly vengeful and ‘hella’ powerful villain, Hela, played by master actress, Cate Blanchett.

Despite not having seen Thor: Ragnarok, I’m going to go ahead and issue a SPOILER ALERT since some of the comics and storylines mentioned below may or may not end up in the film.

Just Who Is Hela?

Stark was right. He really does sound like Shakespeare in the park...
Stark was right. He really does sound like Shakespeare in the park…

Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death and Ruler of Hel (not Hell), was created by none other than the titans of Marvel Comics, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. She first appeared in 1964’s Journey Into Mystery #102, which featured three Thor-centric stories.

In the second story, a naive, 18-year-old Thor learns that Sif has been taken by Storm Giants. To save her, he ends up confronting Hela, who was given Sif by the King of the Storm Giants. Facing a literal incarnation of death, Thor simply offers his own life for Sif’s, instead of doing battle. Hela, who is moved by Thor’s willingness to sacrifice himself, lets them both go.

Although her first comic book appearance exemplifies Hela’s intimidating power, it does not sound anything like the impassioned, world-shaping — potentially world-ending — Hela from the Thor: Ragnarok trailers. This is where the Asgardian lore of Hela becomes particularly helpful:

As Asgardian history tells us, The Norns, three goddesses of fate who make predictions and provide warnings, foretold that Hela would be a danger to Asgard, so in response, Odin decreed that Hela would become the goddess and ruler of the dead. However, she would only rule over lesser spirits of the dead; Odin would continue to house Asgardian souls and the souls of humans who worship them in Valhalla. This caused Hela to desire not just Asgardian souls but the souls of Odin and Thor as well.

Throughout Hela’s long history in Marvel Comics, most of the stories or schemes she has been involved with revolved around either stealing Odin or Thor’s soul, destroying Asgard, or both.

In many of these creative or bold attempts, she has worked with Loki, who is actually her father in the comics — but probably not in the films. Their past team-ups in the comics may be something to consider while viewing Thor: Ragnarok.

What Threat Does Hela Pose to Asgard?    

It takes some SERIOUS confidence to take on those odds!
It takes some SERIOUS confidence to take on those kind of odds!

Put simply, Hela presents a hell of a threat to Asgard. In the trailer alone, viewers saw Hela destroy Thor’s hammer, stand over dozens of dead Asgardian troops (presumably because she killed them all), and even send a flurry of swords flying in multiple directions. Additionally, there is a quick shot of some Asgardian troops charging with glowing green eyes, potentially because Hela can possess the bodies of the dead to do her bidding.

In the comics, much like in the title of the film, Hela has tried to start Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse. Working with Loki, Hela killed Balder, the half-brother of Thor, and sent an army of monsters to attack Asgard. However, Odin was able to save Balder, whose death would signal the prophecy of Ragnarok coming true, and because of this, Hela’s plan was ultimately thwarted.

For the film, it does not appear that this will be the path she is taking, but Hela is definitely bringing death wherever she goes!

Be sure to catch Thor: Ragnarok with Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk), and Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster) in theaters November 3rd!