It wasn't too long after 2016's San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) that we heard of multiple well-known actors joining the cast of Thor: Ragnarok: Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster and Karl Urban's Skurge the Executioner are joining Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo as Thor and Hulk as they venture into the cosmos.
With the little information we know of their characters, it's tough to determine how Grandmaster and Skurge will play into the story. And now we have even more to question with Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame joining the cast as well. In a recent interview with Shortlist — promoting his latest film, Hunter For The Wilder People — Neill spoke briefly of the time that he spent on the set of Thor: Ragnarok:
From the sound of it, Neill only spent a few days shooting, which probably means his role is very minimal. However, that doesn't take anything away from what he will bring to the film. Apart from Neill's amazing part in Jurassic Park, he also has a long list of acting accolades — so regardless of how much screen time Neill will get, he's definitely up for a standout performance in Thor: Ragnarok.
Apart from the casting announcements and the SDCC reveal of Hulk's gladiatorial armor, nothing else is known of the plot. With so much expected to happen in the film, there must be a massive story arc being prepared for Thor and Hulk. And whatever is happening in Ragnarok, it's not just about Hulk and Thor anymore; the Grandmaster and Skurge are definitely going to play pivotal roles in the film, along with the possibility of Hela (Cate Blanchett) having a central role.
The Cosmic Side Of The Marvel Universe
Thor: Ragnarok will undoubtedly unveil a massive adventure for Thor and Hulk, and it doesn't sound limited to Earth. This adventure will likely see them into Avengers: Infinity War — well, at least Thor, since Thor has already been confirmed for Infinity War but there's been no word of Hulk yet, which could be due to a variety of reasons. Until more information is revealed, Hulk's fate is up in the air. He could wind up on a distant planet or he may even be overpowered by a cosmic being.
There's quite a few other questions to be answered in regards to Thor: Ragnarok's plot. Here are the most pertinent ones we need answered...
What Is The Grandmaster Up To?
Being a newly added character to the Thor films, the Grandmaster's purpose has yet to be revealed. In the comics, the Grandmaster is an elder in a race of ancient beings. His motives have been mainly to play games, and to use people as pawns in those games.
As to how that element of Grandmaster's comic history could play into Thor: Ragnarok is still yet to be determined. However, looking at the possibility of Hulk entering an arena for gladiatorial "games," the Grandmaster could be running the show, going so far as to capture Hulk and Thor for a gladiatorial style brawl with other fighters from around the universe. We've already seen the tease of Hulk's gladiator armor at SDCC so he's definitely suited up for a battle of some kind.
Going along with that scenario, a massive gladiatorial showdown would be a perfect action sequence for Thor: Ragnarok. Not only that, but the tease of Hulk's gladiator armor is likely alluding to the Planet Hulk comic event. The most logical way for the Planet Hulk arc to be used will likely see the Grandmaster transporting Thor and Hulk to a distant planet for a round of gladiator games — winner gets to go home, loser dies.
Will Loki Be Good Or Evil This Time Around?
Another character whose purpose in Ragnarok has yet to be revealed is Loki. He's shown his support of both good and evil in the MCU, but he'll have to decide which side he stands for now, and his decision will determine whether Thor counts him as an ally going into Avengers: Infinity War (or if siding with Thanos ultimately finds Thor willing to end Loki's life, for everyone's sake).
In terms of where Loki falls, he could follow in the footsteps of his comic-book counterpart to where he shares close ties to both Skurge the Executioner and Hela, both of whom are joining Thor: Ragnarok as well.
Is Sam Neill Just A Cameo Or An Important Character?
With his part in the film only constituting a few days of filming, Neill will probably only have a minimal part, perhaps a character affiliated with the Grandmaster. Seeing as how Neill will likely be portraying someone in his elder years, it would make sense for Neill to be portraying a Marvel character like a different Elder Of The Universe. With Jeff Goldblum playing Grandmaster, one of the more well-known Elders Of The Universe, it would be a good excuse for a Jurassic Park reunion.
Why Is Hulk In Thor: Ragnarok?
The last we saw of Hulk was in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, where he managed some level of control over his rage and was able to pilot a stealth-equipped Quin-jet somewhere off grid. That scene itself was hinting at Hulk attaining control over his baser instincts, and presenting a possible personality for the hulking rage monster.
Beyond that, how Hulk winds up on an adventure with Thor is still unknown. For all we know, Bruce Banner could have been having brunch with Thor when Heimdall called for the latter, sending Thor through the Rainbow Bridge, inadvertently bringing Banner along with him. The most plausible scenario will probably find Hulk sent off-planet and Thor rescuing him.
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Is Hela Holding Something Over Thor?
Hela's role in Thor: Ragnarok will probably closely mirror her persona from Marvel Comics, in how she uses her power of manipulation over the living and the dead to manipulate them into doing her bidding. If the comics do wind up having an influence on Ragnarok, then it's very possible Hela will be holding Lady Sif's soul hostage until Thor agrees to whatever wild demand she requests of him. (Of course, Thor would be willing to do almost anything to save the life of his friend, Sif, but would Thor be willing to sacrifice the life of another friend in exchange ... say, Hulk's?)
Or another possibility will see Hela allied with Loki. In the Marvel comics, it's alleged but never confirmed that Hela is Loki's daughter. Cate Blanchett's Hela could be ready to do Loki's bidding.
Where Is Odin?
In regards to where Odin is in the MCU, it's still a mystery. However, we can be satisfied knowing that he didn't meet an untimely off-screen death since Anthony Hopkins is back filming on the set of Thor: Ragnarok.
Many have speculated that Loki sent Odin to Earth when Loki was able to wrestle the throne away, and possibly even sent Odin there with the mind of a crazed old man. It's also very likely that someone other than Loki was involved in Odin's removal from the throne; it could be that Hela was working with Loki from behind the scenes in Thor: The Dark World?
Where Will Thor And Hulk Be At The End Of Their Adventure Together?
We know that Thor is going to be alive to make it to Avengers: Infinity War, whether that means he'll be on Asgard at the conclusion of Ragnarok or back on Earth before the Infinity War even begins. But as for Hulk, his fate is still up in the air.
No physical being has been capable of killing the Hulk, but with supernatural and cosmic beings joining the arena, Hulk might not stand a chance and wind up dead or, worse, separated from Bruce Banner. The resulting separation would see Hulk on an endless rampage across the galaxy.
Anything is possible in Hulk's case. Best case scenario will see Banner returned to Earth and granted full control over both the Hulk, to where Hulk becomes a reliable hero for humankind, rather than the rage-hungry monster they know him as right now.
Either way, if you want to know what Hulk and Thor were up to during Captain America: Civil War, check out the video below.
Thor: Ragnarok premieres November 3, 2017. Directed by Taiki Waititi. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Jaime Alexander, Jeff Goldblum, and Sam Neill.