With Captain America: Civil War less than a month away from release, all eyes are focused on the upcoming Marvel blockbuster – with attention also poised to shift toward November’s Doctor Strange, the trailer for which is set drop this week. But in all the talk of these and other high-profile Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the new Spider-Man are up after that) it’s easy to overlook that another big piece of the puzzle, Thor: Ragnarok, is moving into place, too.
Director Taika Waititi (What We Do In the Shadows) and a co-starring role for Mark Ruffalo’s Incredible Hulk aim to help bring the Thor solo films back to prominence with Ragnarok, after the somewhat forgettable Thor: The Dark World. Now, a new star has joined the production in a just announced “key role”: Tessa Thompson, last seen as the female lead of the Rocky-revival Creed.
No specific details have been provided as to what role Thompson will play in Thor: Ragnarok, including whether or not she is going to be stepping into the role of an established Marvel Comics character or if her role is a new figure created specifically for the film – one which Waititi has (jokingly?) said will be even more comedic than The Dark World (itself, a buddy action/comedy for Thor and Loki at times), but might yet prove to be major divergence in tone, style and setting from the previous two Thor movies. Marvel has not officially confirmed anything about the casting, though many reports suggest that the character could be Thor’s new love interest, what with THR also reporting that Oscar-winner Natalie Portman (who plays Thor’s love interest/scientist Jane Foster in the MCU) is not returning for Ragnarok.
Deadline is reporting that Thompson will play a character in Ragnarok who is “a kind of superhero and will appear in other Marvel films as well.” If so, that raises the possibility that Thompson could be playing new imaginings of either The Enchantress (usually a villain) or Brunhilde (a heroine, like Thor culled from actual Norse mythology); two characters often framed as romantic interests in the Thor comics that fans have been eager to see join the movies. The other most-notable potential Thor partner, Lorelei, has already appeared in the MCU as a villain on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the past.
Known to TV audiences for a supporting role on Veronica Mars, Thompson is best recognized by movie fans for her roles in politically-charged dramas like Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls and the Sundance hit Dear White People. In 2015 she got perhaps her biggest exposure yet playing Bianca, an aspiring musician dealing with a chronic hearing-impairment, in Creed, the Rocky psuedo-sequel directed by future Black Panther writer/director Ryan Coogler. She’s also currently part of the cast for HBO’s in-production series Westworld and will star opposite Portman in Annihilation, the upcoming sci-fi film by Ex Machina director Alex Garland.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.