I have not been a particularly big fan of either of the previous Thor films, each struggling to convey enjoyable narratives or presenting us with engaging characters. Even Loki feels more flat and uninteresting due to the lackluster scripts. So when Thor: Ragnarok was announced, I was nonplussed, if not unsurprised. Thor: The Dark World laid the groundwork pretty clearly, but I hoped it would go the way of The Incredible Hulk and allow other franchises to take the place of the Asgardian adventures. But if the official casting announcement is any indication, this film might still have a shot of holding up.
While rumors and names have been thrown about the internet, Marvel has officially announced the cast via their website with some incredibly surprising additions that I had neither heard about nor expected. But first, let’s get the obvious out of the way; Chris Hemingsworth will reprise his role as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Idris Elba as Heimdall and Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin–all predictable and welcome returns. But what I found to be incredibly important about this is the news that one cast member would not be returning: Natalie Portman. This was due to the limited amount of time the film will take place on Earth, another good tidbit of information to hear. Jane Foster was by far the weakest and most frustrating parts of the first two films, feeling shoehorned and unnatural, plus her obnoxious sidekick didn’t help things.
Here’s where things get interesting–the new characters. First off, Cate Blanchett, who’s made a name for herself with films like the somewhat recent Blue Jasmine, will be our main adversary, Hela, a powerful ruler over certain regions of the afterlife in the Nine Realms. The fact that we have our first Marvel villainess gives me enough reason to celebrate, but with such a great actress and role, I can’t help but feeling excited.
Jeff Goldblum of Jurassic Park fame will be playing The Grandmaster, an ancient cosmic entity who enjoys challenging other clever individual to massive games and gambits of his own creation, pitting legions of entities against one another for the fun of it (think the Greek gods and how they, according to myth, controlled the outcomes of wars). While I’m not the biggest Goldblum fan, I could see The Grandmaster and Loki having a very fun and interesting relationship potentially.
Tessa Thompson of Creed and Selma will take on the guise of Valkyrie, a powerful female Asgardian warrior who will hopefully do a better job than Sif, in terms of being an awesome fighter and interesting character.
Karl Urban, who has most recently portrayed the good doctor in the Star Trek reboot, will be playing Skurge, also known as The Executioner, a violent and powerful general who is not the brightest and is frequently manipulated by The Enchantress and — you guessed it — Loki. And considering what The Grandmaster’s presence suggests, we’ll likely see him act as a pawn in the grand battles to come.
And lastly, Mark Ruffalo, aka Bruce Banner, aka the freaking Hulk, will be smashing his way through the Nine Realms alongside Thor. Those working on the project have often described the movie as something of a buddy cop film between the sinewy duo, and I can’t wait to see how that all plays out.
So, just to be clear; a strong and commanding female adversary, a massive game of cleverness and chance between one of the greatest Marvel villains to date and an ancient cosmic being, a massive war that could destroy Asgard and Thor (as the Ragnarok legend goes) and the Hulk (presumably as the bad cop) alongside Thor, all supported by an all-star cast. Consider me sold on what could actually be a great film.