The first Thor: Ragnarok trailer landed today, and it already looks like the most fun Marvel production since, well, the last fun Marvel production we got a close look at. Between this, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Marvel Studios is promising a year that breaks away from the sad introspection of previous superhero movies.
But despite that more colorful aesthetic, what stands out most to me is Cate Blanchett slaying everything in sight. Even though her character Hela is in the trailer for just a handful of moments, she oozes presence and malice in a way that looks to elevate a movie that already has Jeff Goldblum in it. Villains are a key component in any superhero narrative, but she could very well be a crucial character in the MCU’s journey to Infinity War. This movie looks better than either Thor movie before it, and it could be more important than we even realize right now.
It’s well-known among fans and even more casual filmgoers that Marvel doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to its movie villains. Loki is still far and away the greatest big bad the studio has put on the silver screen in a pantheon that is fairly underwhelming. Hiddleston is a fantastic actor, sure, but characters like Ant-Man’s Yellowjacket and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Ronan the Accuser are utterly forgettable. They existed in their movies solely to get the heroes motivated. Meanwhile, Thanos is still too much of a distant threat to count.
One can certainly argue that the likes of the Kingpin from Daredevil, Killgrave from Jessica Jones, and even Dorothy Underwood from Agent Carter should be contenders despite being on TV. They’re all well-acted, intimidating, and have intriguing, complicated backstories. But their profiles are far smaller among audiences and in the overarching MCU canon.
But Hela? Hela looks like she matters. First, she looks amazing:
Second, she’s clearly immensely powerful. It’s one thing to destroy Mjolnir with one hand, which is the kind of weapon that can effortlessly stop the Hulk in his tracks. But when it’s implied that she can raze Asgard itself to the ground, you know she’s not someone to mess around with. She’s powerful on a level that hasn’t yet been explored. Finally, since Avengers: Age of Ultron hinted that Ragnarok ties into the inevitable Infinity War, Hela’s role to play in Marvel’s larger story is probably much bigger than what it looks like right now.
And then there’s the fact that Cate Blanchett long ago mastered the art of embodying otherworldly beauty and horror in The Lord of the Rings. Everything we saw in this trailer screams of Galadriel taking the power of the One Ring and using it to destroy whole worlds. Even if the movie ends with her being locked away in some Asgardian prison, what she brings to the role could be something Marvel fans haven’t yet seen.
Marvel’s focus up until now has been on getting its best heroes off the ground, but its villains haven’t always gotten quite the same treatment. Hela might be a refreshing break from that mold. Of course, I could be wrong about all this, but it’s important to have dreams. Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters on November 3rd.