Now that the latest Thor: Ragnarok trailer has landed, we cannot wait to see the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) do what he does best in his third solo film.
Given that Ragnarok is the film that kicks off the Infinity Wars and is rumoured to mix-up the MCU formula, we have a lot to look forward to.
Since the Thor of the MCU is based on ancient Norse mythology, it’s no surprise to learn the movies are stuffed full of Viking mythology. But what is Ragnarok and who and what do the key players of the Thor films have to do with it? There’s a lot to take in, we know.
So, to make things easier to digest for you non-Vikings, here’s your trusty Cineworld guide to Norse Mythology.
Yggdrasil and the Nine Realms
Before we can get into the nitty-gritty of Ragnarok, we need to cover the basics of Norse cosmology first – don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it sounds.
In the mythos, Yggdrasl is a giant ash tree that lies in the centre of the universe; it’s where the Gods hold gatherings and legend has it that it’s home to many creatures including a giant eagle on the topmost branches and a dragon who lives at its roots.
Most importantly, the tree connects the nine realms (or homeworlds) of the cosmos. These worlds are Asgard where the Asgardians (like Thor) rule; Alfheim, the home of the Light Elves; Svartalfheim, the realm of the Dark Elves which appeared in The Dark World; Midgard (that’s us); Jotunheim, home of the giants (jötnar); Vanaheim, where the wise gods (Vanir) live; the ice underworld Niflheim; the world of fire, Muspelheim; and Hel, the Norse underworld for the damned ruled by the goddess named Hel (played by Cate Blanchett in Ragnarok).
Hel (the Goddess)
It’s pretty confusing when an underworld and a goddess have the same name. Luckily for us, for movie and comic purposes Ragnarok’s goddess of death is called Hela (played by Cate Blanchett).
The Hel of the original legend is the daughter of Loki and Angrboda who was tasked to rule over Hel (the realm) and Niflheim by Odin. She’s half blue (sometimes black) and half white in appearance with a gloomy demeaner who cares little for both the living and the dead.
Aside from this, there’s not much else that’s known about Hel except what remains from the work of 13th century scholar Snori Sturluson who accounts for the only surviving legend that features her.
In the comics, however, Hela is motivated by her own lust for power with the ultimate goal to control Valhalla as well as Hel – not to mention all of her god powers she has in the MCU.
Moreover, it’s unlikely that she’ll be the daughter of Hiddleston’s Loki but it’s more than likely that Loki will have something to do with Hela’s release in Ragnarok.
Observant fans may have spotted another iconic comic-book hero in the trailer for Ragnarok: Valkyrie.
Played by Creed actress Tessa Thompson, Valkyrie is based on the Germanic legend of Brunhilde, a shieldmaiden who was exiled by Odin after she fought for King Agnar, disobeying him. As punishment, she’s turned mortal, placed on top of mount Hindarfjall, guarded by a dragon, and surrounded in a circle of fire until she is rescued by Sigurðr.
We know this sounds a little like the plot of Shrek, but unlike the ogre fairytale, there’s no happy ending here. The couple remarry after a sorceress makes them forget each other, Sigurðr is killed in his sleep by Brumhilde’s new step-brother, Brumhilde kills Sigurðr’s child before then throwing herself on Sigurðr’s flaming funeral pyre so that their souls would enter Hel together – so there’s sort of a happy ending after all.
Valkyries (“choosers of the slain”), on the other hand, have the important job of selecting which souls of fallen warriors go to Valhalla. They’re female warriors who ride winged horses and, when they’re not serving the warriors, they’re preparing for the events of Ragnarok.
This is the big one. Ragnarok is “The Twilight of the Gods”; it’s the Norse Apocalypse and it’s the most descriptive legend by any culture so we’ll just give you a rundown of the highlights.
Ragnarok begins when the world is ravaged by battles for three years where no mercy will be shown and kinship will be lost. Next, three consecutive winters will envelope the world where the sun and moon will be devoured by wolves.
Loki (Tim Hiddleston) and the wolf Fenir will be freed, earthquakes will level mountains, the fire giant Surt will burn everything in a rage and destroy the bridge to Asgard, and the watcher Heimdall (Idris Elba) will signal the start of the final battle.
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS
This battle will see the death of the gods. Odin will be eaten by Fenir, Thor poisoned by a giant serpent, and Loki and Heimdall will fight until they kill each other. After this, Surt will burn the earth where it will once again be reborn for the surviving gods (Thor’s sons) to start fresh until the next Ragnarok occurs.
This cycle has already been referenced in The Dark World by Heimdall so the events of Ragnarok were never too far away in the MCU.
Just how much of this will come true and how could the events of Ragnarok lead to the start of the Infinity Wars?
Whatever the answer, we can’t wait to find out because we’re sure that Thor: Ragnarok will be the biggest and most epic of the MCU saga so far when it’s released in Cineworld on 27th October.
Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.