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Could THOR: RAGNAROK’s Goddess of Death Bring Big Stakes Back to the MCU?

From the moment she shattered the mighty Mjolnir in Thor: Ragnaroks awe-inspiring trailer, Hela struck us one of the MCU’s most formidable foes yet. In this third Thor solo installment, she’ll invade Asgard, forcing the God of Thunder to team up with his masterfully mischievous brother Loki, the legendary warrior Valkyrie, and a new kind of Hulk. But on top of all this, we suspect the Goddess of Death will bring back big stakes to the MCU. Namely, we predict Hela’s going to be the death of a much-beloved god.

Amid much praise, the MCU has faced growing criticism for punches pulled when it comes to death. Everyone from Agent Coulson to Nick Fury, Captain America to Loki (twice), had big death scenes, yet came back. Each instance of these “deaths” offered diminishing returns. And every time the Avengers take on a world-shattering evil plot, it becomes more ludicrous that they all get out alive. In the Civil War comics, superheroes were expiring left and right, and in the big showdown of Captain America: Civil War the only thing that died was Cap’s sense of humor. (Yes, Quicksilver died in Avengers: Age of Ultron. We’ll take a moment of silence to pretend that you cared.)  With Avengers: Infinity War on the horizon, it’s time for Marvel to bring down the hammer, delivering a death blow that’ll really resonate. Prove to us death is final once more by killing someone big. No, I’m not talking about Thor. We need him for Avengers 3 & 4. I’m saying they’re going to kill Loki.

Last fall, Nerdist traveled to Australia to the set of Thor: Ragnarok to interview the filmmakers and cast, including Tom Hiddleston and Cate Blanchett. Admittedly, not a single person suggested that Loki would die in the film. However, as I poured over the notes and quotes, something became painfully clear to this longtime Loki lover: this is the perfect time to kill him for keeps.

When we last left Loki (Thor: The Dark World), he’d usurped Odin, and was ruling Asgard in the guise of his adopted father. But Loki never knew all the enemies Odin was keeping at bay. Once Hela rises, he’s completely unprepared, and must go find Thor for help. Hiddleston wouldn’t tip what this sure-to-be awkward reunion is like, but Hemsworth told us Thor is no longer invested in Loki’s life. And his indifference cuts Loki deeper than jealousy ever has. “The opposite of love is not hate but indifference,” Hiddleston said. “So the idea that Thor might be indifferent to Loki is troubling for him!” Perhaps winning back the respect of his brother proves a fateful motivation.

As for Hela, her last onslaught against Odin landed her in prison underneath the Asgardian stairs, leaving her forgotten and a bit bitter. Or as Cate Blanchett put it, “She’s been banished for a very long time, for 5,000 years! You’d be a little bit cross (too).”

Blanchett sees Hela as less evil, and more misunderstood (like another swaggering, green-sporting god.) “There’s a lot of unresolved issues that she has with Asgard,” Blanchett said. “Each step of the way, she doesn’t meet people who are receptive to her. I think she’s quite bewildered as to why people are frightened of her. But the more havoc she wreaks the stronger she becomes.”

On set, we witnessed from a distance a climactic scene where Loki and Hela face-off with a smirking battle of words. Without CG and headphones, it became a frenzied guessing game to make out what they were saying to each other. But as both are power-hungry outcasts of Asgard, it’s easy to see what they have in common.

“That’s kind of what the scene is about,” Hiddleston admitted, “It’s about them recognizing each other; recognizing that we prefer anarchy to order; recognizing that chaos is more fun, if a little exhausting; recognizing the aesthetic value of green capes, the inimitable elegance of a headdress. If you’re going to be bad, you might as well be bad with style, but they are defined by a red line between them.” Hiddleston stopped short of defining what the red line is. But it suggests he’ll be standing by Thor on the side of good, once more, and maybe once and for all.

Consider it: Loki is the reason Hela got out. This is his fault, his battle, and perhaps he will face the punishment. Loki finally, fully may pay for all his crimes. Before the eyes of his indifferent brother, perhaps Loki will sacrifice himself for the good of Asgard, and at long last win Thor’s respect. If anyone were going to off him, wouldn’t it make sense to have it be his metaphorical evil twin with bigger horns and a bolder attitude? And if anyone can really kill Loki, wouldn’t it be the Goddess of Death?

“I think it’s very interesting to bring the concept of death into a world that’s ostensibly immortal,” Blanchett told us of Hela. “You know, you look at the Western world and in most cultures, Death has been banished from the world in which most Western people live. And as a result, I think it’s made life rather screwed up. So I think that there’s a side of death, which can be gentle and kin. And there’s a side of death which can be brutal and savage, depending on whose death it is.”

Hela may be Thor: Ragnarok’s bad “guy,” but I suspect she’ll give Loki a happy ending, the completion of his redemption arc. And for Marvel fans, that means a farewell scene even more gutting that one in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

I might be wrong. But you might want to bring tissues to the theater.

Thor: Ragnarok opens November 3rd. Advance tickets are now on sale wherever tickets are sold. Look for more from Nerdist’s set visit soon.

Images: Marvel Studios

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