Thor: Ragnarok is one of this year’s most anticipated films and it’s set to feature one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most fearsome villains. The film’s antagonist — the alluring and mysterious Hela — is about to steal the Mighty Norse God’s “thunder”. First introduced in the comics in 1964, Hela is the Goddess of Death and ruler of Hel on Niflheim, one of Asgard’s major realms of the dead. And this unique connection with death is unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU.
If the Thor: Ragnarok trailers and comics are any indication, Hela is the most intimidating threat that Asgard has ever faced. Her powers alone can make even the mightiest warrior fall. Combine that with her obsession for gaining power, her ability to manipulate death, and the possibility of her possessing the Soul Gem and you have the ultimate recipe for disaster.
Her Physical Abilities
The major highlight of the trailer is watching Hela not only summon Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, but also smashing it to pieces. Up to this point, Vision was the only character other than Thor who could even lift it. So the fact that Hela has the power to destroy Thor's hammer doesn't bode well for anyone.
In the comics, Hela is a skilled combatant and the trailer shows her wielding the All-Black the Necrosword. Her expertise in swordsmanship once gave her Nightsword the upper hand against Pluto's Midnight Axe. Hela is also skilled in using the mystic arts with unlimited astral projection and the ability to channel energy through her hands. These mystical powers rival even the impressive feats of Doctor Strange.
Hela's most devastating ability is her one-touch kill. All she has to do is touch bare flesh and her victim will perish. However, in the past, she's often content on waiting until the person is already on the verge of dying before applying her fatal touch.
With Hela facing off against the mighty Norse god, it looks as if Thor may just meet his physical equal. To borrow from another mythology, taking her down is going to be quite the Herculean feat.
An Obsession with Power
Hela's obsession with power is two-fold. She wants to collect as many souls as she can, and she also wants to expand her rule to all Nine Realms. In the comics, she has gone to reckless lengths to see these two dreams become a reality as many storylines involve her trying to conquer Asgard and capture the souls of Thor and Odin.
In the Thor: Ragnarok trailers, she makes it clear that her ultimate goal is to bring about the "Ragnarok" and remake Asgard in her image. This is not the first time she's attempted the Ragnarok, and if she were to succeed, nothing could stop her from attempting this elsewhere.
In an article on Cinemablend, actor Karl Urban said that his character, Skurge, will side with Hela more out of fear than loyalty. This means that we may see other Asgardians bow to her will. As witnesses to the dangerous lengths Hela will go to obtain power, these people may decide they would rather survive than perish. This could set a very dangerous precedent, giving her exactly what she wants.
The Soul Gem
Hela's unique relationship with death means that she can kill with one touch and she has complete governance over all souls she collects. She can use these souls to build an army, as we'll likely see in Thor: Ragnarok.
Many theorize that the Soul Gem will make its debut in Thor: Ragnarok and there's significant evidence to support this. In previous films, Odin's treasure room has housed both the Tesseract and the right-handed Infinity Gauntlet. Another Infinity Stone, the Aether, also has Asgardian roots. Previous movies in the MCU set the precedent that Infinity Stones work best with someone who shares it characteristics. Given Hela's Asgardian connections and her cosmic powers, she seems the most likely to have and/or wield the stone.
It's a frightening notion that she may get her hands on this. If she does, it means she'll have even better synergy with it than Loki had with the Mind Stone. Like Hela, the Soul Gem desires to collect and trap souls and access important information.
A key power that both Hela and the stone share is the ability to revert beings back to their natural state. It won't be surprising to see Hela bring a loved one back from the dead to coerce someone into cooperating. This may be how she gets Skurge and other Asgardians on her side. With the Soul Stone, Hela may become nearly invincible and make her feel emboldened to bring her reign of terror to Earth and other corners of the universe.
Hela's Future in the MCU
With the potential to become death personified, Hela is going to be one of the most intimidating villains in the MCU. Whether or not Thor defeats Hela in Ragnarok, she could play a pivotal in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
The plot of these films will be based in part on the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ storyline, which sees Thanos wanting to win the affections of Death by completing the fabled Gauntlet and using it to wipe out life across the universe. Could Hela be the “Death” that Thanos courts in the films? This a strong possibility given that the filmmakers’ are adapting the comic storylines to suit the narrative established in the movies. It's also important to note that in 'The Unworthy Thor' #5, Hela teams up with Thanos in a bid to retake her kingdom and the two even share a kiss.
Hela's role as the Goddess of Death is terrifying enough as it is. On top of her devastating abilities, which the Soul Gem will further enhance, and her power complex, she'll have the ultimate grip on Life and Death across Asgard and the entire MCU. We should all fear Hela!
Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters on November 3.