Proceed with caution — this post contains spoilers from Thor: Ragnarok.
When Cate Blanchett was first announced as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, it seemed as though Marvel had cast a dream villain. Not only is Blanchett an Academy Award winner (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) but she gets to play the first female villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So, who is Hela? Why is she hellbent on destroying Asgard? Why does she destroy Thor’s hammer? How can she destroy his hammer? In the comics, she rules Asgard’s underworld — but Thor: Ragnarok flips the script on her character in a HUGE way. Let’s jump into who she is and why she’s coming for Asgard.
Last chance to skip any spoilers…
Like Father, Like Daughter
In the comics, Hela is the daughter of Loki and the Enchantress. In Thor: Ragnarok, she is the daughter of Odin. YES, ODIN. Let that sink in for a second… She is Thor’s older sister and the direct heir to the throne.
Before Thor and Loki were born, Hela was Odin’s executioner. Together Odin and Hela ruled the Nine Realms. When Hela wanted to extend her reign into the universe, Odin forbid it. When she tried to usurp the throne, Odin banished her. Hela’s history with Odin was erased and Thor grew up without any knowledge of his all-powerful sister.
So what’s her beef with Thor? Thor is no longer Odin’s first born and should not be in line for the Throne of Asgard. This is why Hela personally destroys Mjolnir. She not only hates Thor but she knows he’s the only one who can destroy her.
Flipping the Script
This is where her comic book backstory gets completely flipped. Is she someone’s daughter? Yes, but not Loki’s. Is she in charge of a dead army? Yes, but not as the ruler of Hel on Niflheim. She awakens a dead Asgardian army with the Eternal Flame. All of her comic book elements are present in the film, they are just presented in a totally new way. Does Hela attempt to take Asgard in the prophesied event of Ragnarok? Yes, but she isn’t what ultimately causes the destruction of Asgard in the film. The writers very give her a backstory that seamlessly fits into the MCU.
Ride of the Valkyries
The only person alive who remembers Hela, is Valkyrie, who we meet later in the film. When Hela went rogue, Odin sent his elite warriors, the Valkyrie, to destroy her. Instead, Hela destroyed them all but one. This is how Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) connects to the film’s narrative. Now that Hela is back, Valkyrie has one last chance to avenge the death of her fallen sisters.
With Valkyrie on Thor’s side, the pair, along with Hulk and Loki, bring the fight to Hela. This sets up the film’s third act, which I won’t spoil for you here. Just know that the fight becomes very personal for everyone, especially since Hela is now family.
Thor: Ragnarok is currently in theaters.