"I know what you're thinking: how did this happen?" These are the first words spoken in the new Thor: Ragnarok trailer that debuted this Monday — and that is indeed probably one of the questions many fans were asking themselves after they watched the two-minute teaser. How did Thor go from being a Shakespearean fantasy opus to an '80s-infused sci-fi romp? And how does Thor: Ragnarok connect to the comic books? There are plenty of references to the source material in the Ragnarok trailer that make it clear that this might actually be the most faithful adaptation of the Thor comics yet.
There's one easy, if simplistic, answer to the question about the new film's tone: Thor: Ragnarok has a different director. Gone are Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet) and Alan Taylor (Game Of Thrones), who directed 2011's Thor and 2013's The Dark World, respectively. Thor: Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi, the New Zealand filmmaker known for his previous genre comedies What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Waititi has clearly brought with him a brightly-colored tongue-in-cheek sensibility that is more reminiscent of Guardians Of The Galaxy than the previous Thor movies.
So, what are the new characters, locations, and storylines in Ragnarok? Read on to learn a little bit about the new faces and places we'll be seeing in the third installment of the franchise.
When the teaser starts, we see Thor dangling from some chains in a smoldering lava-world that is clearly Hel, Marvel's version of the underworld that's situated on Niffleheim, one of the Nine Realms (which also includes Asgard and Midgard — aka Earth — among its number).
You may have already guessed by her name, but two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett plays Hela, the ruler of Hel, and has long been obsessed with possessing the souls of Odin and his son Thor and kickstarting the Norse apocalypse known as Ragnarök. (Interestingly, in the comics, Hela is allegedly the daughter of Loki; although it seems like the film has changed that relationship.)
The hammer Mjolnir ("that which smashes") is Thor's most iconic weapon… so it's a bit shocking to see it destroyed by Hela so early in the teaser. Although it's supposed indestructible, Mjolnir actually has been destroyed in the comics more a few times, proving vulnerable to magic scythes and force beams and celestial energy and the like.
As previously mentioned, Ragnarök is an apocalyptic event of Norse mythology, and one that Hela tries to trigger in the comics — in league with her alleged father, Loki, no less. (Ragnarok is also the alias of the evil Thor clone that kills superhero Goliath in the Civil War comic book storyline.)
Sakaar is a far-flung planet that, after a cosmic vortex suddenly opened in the sky above its surface, became the depository for the galaxy's detritus, bringing an amalgam of extraterrestrial technology and lost members of alien species to the planet. Thor is apparently one of those lost aliens who finds his way there in Ragnarok.
The Valkyrior — also known as just valkyries — are nine Asgardian warrior goddesses who shepherd the souls of dying mortals to the everlasting kingdom of Valhalla. Here they are seen (perhaps in flashback?) doing battle with Hela herself, from the backs of their traditional mounts: winged horses.
Brunnhilde, often referred to simply by her official title as Valkyrie, is the leader of Valkyrior in the comics. In Ragnarok, she'll be portrayed by Westworld actress Tessa Thompson. How she found her way to the planet Sakaar is yet to be seen; but perhaps she fell there like Thor after doing battle with Hela in the scene above.
8. The Grandmaster
Also known by his real name En Dwi Gast, the Grandmaster (played here by Jeff Goldblum) is one of the oldest living beings in the galaxy, known as the Elders Of The Universe. Each Elder is the last surviving member of their ancient species, and each has their own hobby: in the Grandmaster's case, it's pitting heroes against each other in gladiatorial matches for his own amusement.
Given that Heimdall's one and only purpose is to protect the Bifrost — the Rainbow Bridge that connects Asgard to the other Nine Realms — if anything confirms that Asgard has been destroyed by Ragnarok, it's the sight of him away from his post, doing battle with an alien in a foreign jungle landscape. (You'll remember that it was Heimdall himself who warned Thor of the impending apocalypse back in 2015's Avengers: Age Of Ultron.)
Also known as The Executioner, Skurge is the offspring of an Asgardian and a Storm Giant, and frequently worked as the second-in-command to his lover, the villainous Enchantress. Eventually, Skurge would join forces with Thor to launch a siege against Hel and its ruler, Hela. In Ragnarok, The Executioner will be played by Karl Urban (aka The Lord Of The Rings's Éomer).
You already know Loki, the god of mischief. The last time we saw him in The Dark World, he had been revealed to be impersonating Odin after presumably dying in battle with Malekith and the Dark Elves. Here we see him apparently defending Asgard from attack with the help of some handy knives (and some weird alien sidekicks).
This is more of an Easter egg than a significant reference, but it's nice to see one of the Thor movies finally put the superhero in a helmet that resembles the iconic winged headdress he's known for wearing in the comics.
13. Planet Hulk
As if adapting the plots of Ragnarok, Hela, and the Grandmaster weren't enough, the sequel is also adding in a sprinkling of the fan-favorite comics series Planet Hulk (2006-'07), which saw the not-so-jolly green giant become a gladiator on Sakaar after being banished from Earth by his fellow Avengers.
Watch the trailer for yourself below.
Thor: Ragnarok will blast its way into theaters on Nov. 3, 2017.