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Friday, August 26, 2016

New Thor: Ragnarok Set Photos May Reveal Where Asgard's Royalty Ends Up

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Edited by Robert Beach

As we continue our slow rumble towards Thor: Ragnarok, the film has begun to take shape as one of the most eclectic and ambitious Marvel projects to date. That’s unquestionably a good thing given one of Marvel’s biggest problems is that they’re so producer driven and tightly controlled their films can end up a little formulaic and distant; it's a problem that befell Thor: Dark World. Thankfully, Ragnarok sounds like a bizarre mix of science fantasy, high-flying adventure, and sci-fi hooliganism that has the same broad scope of Dark World without the compromised story structure. 

So far, we know the film will revolve around the mythical Norse apocalypse and feature Cate Blanchett as the villainous Hela, Goddess of Death. We also know that the Machiavellian schemer and Elder of the Universe, the Grandmaster, will be at hand. Played by Jeff Goldblum, Grandmaster, assumedly, is behind turning the Hulk into a sword-and-planet style gladiator. Now, thanks to a new slew of set photos, we see the Thunder God will also be stopping over in Midgard in this new adaptation and is bringing some old friends and possible cameos with him.

The big takeaway from these photos has been that Loki will be in Thor: Ragnarok, which is one of those curious facts we all already knew, yet forgot about. Seriously, the end of Thor: The Dark World was such a blatant “to be continued”-type moment it’d be impossible for Loki not to appear. 

What’s more, Loki has become such an essential part of the Thor franchise I don’t think they’d ever risk making a movie without him; that’s just how successful Tom Hiddleston’s performance is. Even with that, we all knew Loki would be in Ragnarok. It is still cool to see him again, especially in the context of these set photos. 

Overall, that’s the other major revelation from these pictures: the film will take place on Earth as well. The last we saw Thor, at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he was warping off to Asgard to speak with the powers that be about the Infinity Stones and what impending threat might be behind them. The fact he’s somehow come back to Earth is a little vexing. 

Marvel did release the joke feature about Thor chilling in Australia during the events of Civil War, but I was sure that wasn’t in continuity, which means that Thor is coming to Earth from Asgard for some unknown purpose. The most likely reason I might think of is either to collect or drop off Bruce Banner. However, given Mark Ruffalo’s absence from these pictures, that doesn’t seem to be the case. 

While the casual dress of Loki and Thor would suggest a joint visit under the radar, the newspaper headlines in the background suggest something different. It would make sense that Thor wouldn’t want to fly around and advertise his presence given the state of the Marvel Universe right now as he seems pretty committed to not getting involved in the registration nonsense. Then again, why are the newspapers discussing his return? 

It’s a major headline. This event must come in the wake of some big shake-up and is accompanied by a story about the so-called “Time Square Murder,” which itself raises a lot of questions. Given that Thor and Loki are both mentioned, and some of the stuff we’ll see later, I have to wonder if this isn’t part of a final scene in the film and a major twist they might be building. 

The other major revelation of these pictures is our first look at Anthony Hopkins as Odin.  Hopkins’ Odin is looking a lot worse for ware, sporting fingerless gloves and a rag for an eye patch. His design seems in line with the “casual” garb of Thor and Loki. And yet, he's more in line with the look of a homeless person than the other two, which brings me back to my point from earlier. 

I would posit that the scene we see here comes from the end of Thor: Ragnarok and revolves around the fall of the Gods. It’s not like Marvel is beating around the bush on this one; the movie is named after the end of the Gods in Norse mythology. That heft is going to have consequences, and I think we’re looking at them. I think that at the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Asgard will be decimated. The Gods will be reduced to mere mortals, forced to move amid humanity. 

This would be in line with a few previous stories as well as Marvel’s overall push towards Infinity War. Firstly, the idea of the Asgardians being rendered mortal by their apocalypse popped up in the excellent Thor: Disassembled comic and its follow-up series, so there’s certainly precedent for this turn. 

Additionally, Marvel has made a concerted effort to remove the classic Avengers with Steve Rogers abandoning the mantle of Captain America, Iron Man retiring even more after Civil War, and the Hulk getting lost in space. What better way to remove Thor than to have him become fully human and remove even the chance of Asgardian aid in the films to come? Plus, having Asgard get knocked out of play would easily allow Thanos to access the treasure vault and claim the Tesseract while also enacting revenge on Loki for losing the mind stone. 

If that is the case, it makes the final Easter egg from these photos even more prescient.  See, some clever fans snapped a photo of Thor examining a business card that lists the address of Dr. Strange. If Marvel’s current crop of films aims to bring together a new team of Avengers to stand against Thanos long enough for the old heroes to be catalyzed into one last ride, this business card speaks volumes to that theory.  

It brings Doctor Strange more into the Thanos arc than simply through his Infinity Stone, and it opens the door for Thor possibly regaining his powers long enough for a final appearance before dying to trigger a new age of Gods. The idea, incidentally, that Asgard could be reborn with new people taking up the vestments of the guards, is probably in the cards here as it would allow Marvel to let Hemsworth out of his contract while also bringing in their very lucrative and popular woman version of Thor from the current comics. 

Thor: Ragnarok is scheduled for release on November 3, 2017

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