Excitement is building for Thor: Ragnarok, which promises to be a Thor movie unlike any other. It will feature Cate Blanchett as the MCU's first female villain, Hela, the goddess of death herself. But is it possible that Hela is a far more important character than we've been led to believe? One popular fan-theory is that she'll be taking the place of the avatar of Death in the MCU — and that just became ever-more-likely, given the comics have just locked Thanos and Hela in a passionate embrace!
Jason Aaron's The Unworthy Thor #5 is a key issue, showing a budding romance between the Mad Titan and the goddess of death. Of course, Marvel Studios is a separate company to Marvel Comics nowadays — but the two often try to create a sense of synergy between the comics and the films. Given Hela's prominent role in Thor: Ragnarok, this has breathed new life into the theory...
A Death-Sized Hole in the MCU
But why do we need a Death-like character? Well, as we all know, the ongoing story of the #MCU is headed for a glorious climax in #InfinityWar, the eagerly-awaited blockbuster hit that's set to pit our many heroes against the evil of Thanos. Thanos is seeking out the power of the Infinity Stones, eager to somehow "rebalance the universe." The movie promises to be a blend of the classic Infinity Gauntlet miniseries and the "Infinity" event, with Thanos invading Earth in order to acquire the Infinity Stones.
Here's the catch, though. Thanos is a pretty important figure in the MCU, and his story is inextricably woven with that of the avatar of Death. Sometimes known as the Mad Titan, Thanos has literally fallen in love with Death, and seeks to woo and charm her. This was Thanos's fundamental goal in Infinity Gauntlet; he literally snuffed out half of the universe's life in an attempt to earn Death's love. Stripping Thanos of this core component of his character just doesn't seem like a smart move on #Marvel's part.
Thus, it seems more than likely that Death will have to appear in the MCU. With a little over a year to go until Avengers: Infinity War and still no Death, fans are becoming increasingly convinced that Thor: Ragnarok's Hela will take over Death's role in the MCU. Here's all the evidence to date!
1. Hela is Strongly Linked to Death Thematically
Let's start with the obvious point: Hela is the Norse goddess of Death. In Norse mythology, Hela is the Queen of Hel and the daughter of Loki; she rules over the vast realm of the dead, often desiring to conquer the land of the living. Of course, I'm not expecting the MCU to explore Hela in a particularly faithful way; I doubt that she'll be related to Loki, for instance. But whatever the case may be, the character and concept are both inextricably linked to Death.
In the comics, Hela is ruler of the Realm of Death, and is one of the most powerful and dangerous gods out there. It really wouldn't be hard to merge the goddess of Death with the avatar of Death.
2. Hela's Role in 'Thor: Ragnarok'
Thor: Ragnarok is expected to pick up shortly after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron — where Thor had a vision that told him the Infinity Stones were being brought into play. The film ended with Thor heading off back to Asgard, seeking answers as to who was manipulating events. That quest, it seems, will lead him to Hela.
Little by little, we're getting a sense of Hela's power. It seems that Hela has been imprisoned for millennia, but that early in the film, Thor unwittingly frees her. She's powerful enough to cast him to the distant world of Sakaara, and set photos have even shown her able to lift Mjolnir. Given the film's title is Ragnarok, it seems that Hela's freedom is enough to threaten the whole of Asgard.
But why would Hela attack Asgard? Is it for revenge against those who imprisoned her? Or has she been communing with another, and is launching her own quest to retrieve the Infinity Stone held at Asgard? Whatever the truth may be, the fact remains: Thor launched a quest for those who seek the Infinity Stones, and this quest led him straight to Hela.
3. The Timing of the 'Doctor Strange' / 'Thor: Ragnarok' Rewrites
There's strong evidence that Marvel originally planned to introduce Death in #DoctorStrange, with the Zealots serving Death rather than Dormammu. Early concept art showed the Zealots donning robes that are clearly reminiscent of Death, while the Doctor Strange Prelude comics still hint at this in Kaecilius's backstory. But this was rewritten; C. Robert Cargill drastically rewrote the script through 2015 (we know he was involved in the Ancient One controversy, for example, suggesting the scale of the rewrites). He finished in December 2015, and a month later Kevin Feige started hinting that the Dark Dimension would appear in Doctor Strange.
Here's the significant thing; at the very same time Doctor Strange was being rewritten, Marvel hired Stephany Folsom to rework Thor: Ragnarok. If I'm right, Marvel chose to pull Death out of Doctor Strange — and add the concept into Ragnarok. I don't believe it's a coincidence that these two scripts were being rewritten at the same time.
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All in all, it seems increasingly plausible that Hela will be the MCU's version of Death. If I'm right, Cate Blanchett's villain will return — whether in Infinity War or the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4. She promises to perfectly fill the Death-sized hole in Infinity War, adding extra depth to Thanos's motivation, while giving him one seriously powerful ally...
Do you think Hela is Death in the MCU?
(Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)