The Wednesday Club is Geek & Sundry’s weekly talk show chatting about all things comics, hosted by Taliesin Jaffe, Amy Dallen, and Matt Key. This week, they’ll be talking about Marvel’s God of Thunder himself, Thor, out of sheer of excitement for Thor: Ragnarok.
Ragnarok takes the Thor movie series in a radically different direction, and with that shift comes a whole bevy of new gods and godlike beings. Cherry-picked from sixty-odd years of comics, some are naturally quite different on-screen from how they’ve been on the page. Still, if you’d like a quick primer on this little pantheon before watching the flick, or have just seen Ragnarok and come home curious about these characters (and how they could connect to other Marvel movies), here’s a handy list to save you some homework.
Hela (Cate Blanchett)
One of the most storied heels in Thor’s rogues’ gallery, Hela has fought the thunder god on many, many occasions. Taking his soul, returning it, cursing him, lifting those curses, and being killed and resurrected herself in the musical chair fashion only never-ending superhero serials allow. A goddess of death, in the comics she’s the daughter of Loki (a previous incarnation, though. Again–it’s comics). Notable storylines saw her bring about the Apocalyptic Ragnarok in Asgard, and corrupt the Vakryies into fire demons to do her bidding. Interestingly, that latter plot involved the New Mutants, who’ll be getting their own film next year.
Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson)
“Scrapper 142” might differ a bit from the heroine as depicted in the comics, but Valkyrie’s actually been reinterpreted and given different identities numerous times already. True to her name, she’s from the angel-like caste of warrior spirits who escort Vikings’ souls to Valhalla as they die on the battlefield. She has been incarnated as the legendary Brunhilda and romanced Siegfried (likewise an incarnation of Thor) in centuries past. In modern times, Odin has made her spirit possess several human women who’ve taken secret identities and adventured with the superheroic Defenders (who are very different from the team in the Netflix show).
The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum)
He’s a character all gamers should relate to on some level. He’s one of the Elders of the Universe, a fraternity of primordial, godlike beings that also includes the Collector (depicted by Benicio del Toro in Guardians of the Galaxy). Defined by his compulsion for wagers and competitions, the Grandmaster’s M.O. is to pit superheroes against each other like pieces on a chessboard, and he’s played them in games against Death itself. Notably, he and other Elders possessed the Infinity Stones (his being the Mind) until Thanos defeated them all, one after another, and assembled the gems into the Infinity Gauntlet (as part of a storyline which will be the basis for next year’s Infinity War movie).
Skurge, the Executioner (Karl Urban)
Hardly conflicted as an evil-doer, this Asgardian has typically served as a henchmen on Earth for Loki and, more often, the Enchantress (a Marvel villainess who has yet to appear in any films–not to be confused with the DC Suicide Squad member-turned-antagonist). Indeed, his ever-unrequited love for the latter resulted in the beguiling femme fatale leading him into a long-tenured membership in the Masters of Evil–a team of Earthly anti-Avengers led by Zemo (who is far more super-villainous in the comics than he is in the Civil War movie).
WANT MORE COMIC GOODNESS?
- Check out the comics that inspired this year’s superhero blockbuster movies.
- Delve into last week’s Wednesday Club Japanese-inspired Western comic recommendations.
- Check out a pile of awesome self-contained comic book stories (encyclopedic backstory knowledge not required!)
Image Credits: Marvel