WARNING: This article contains potential SPOILERS for The Avengers: Infinity War
Thor: Ragnarok set the stage for Marvel’s Infinity War, and its first trailer just revealed the tragic ending that followed Ragnarok‘s cliffhanger mid-credits scene. That’s certainly what the footage seems to show, at any rate, after leaving the future of Asgard in the hands of Thor – one-eyed, capeless, and without a home to set foot on. The next chapter of Thor’s life was always going to be his most interesting in the MCU so far, but it looks like he may have to walk it alone… as the last king of a dead people.
We should specify, given the betrayal and tragedy that many fans saw in Loki turning the Tesseract over to Thanos – also revealed in the first trailer for Infinity War, and explaining how Thanos gets at least one of the Infinity Stones embedded in his infamous gauntlet. That actually isn’t the twist that we’re referring to (since many assumed Loki took the Tesseract in Ragnarok‘s final act). No, the real tragedy of Ragnarok‘s mid-credits scene is that it didn’t tease a coming threat, a returning foe, or even a callback gag.
If the Infinity War trailer shows what we believe it does, that mid-credits scene will forever read as the herald of Asgard’s doom – and its total extinction.
For those who may not recall the (many) endings of Thor: Ragnarok, it seems that being utterly destroyed and scattered to the wind is becoming a distinctly Asgardian trait in the MCU. After battling his way home and realizing it was impossible to defeat Hela, Thor came to realize the wisdom of his father’s words: “Asgard is not a place, but a people.” Triggering Ragnarok with help from Loki, Hulk, and Valkyrie, the remaining population of Asgard fled the realm in a massive ship (courtesy of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster). Thor finally accepted his role as leader of his people, swapping a throne out for a Captain’s chair, and chatting a course for his people – with Loki by his side.
That is, until the mid-credits scene. In it, Thor and Loki stand at the ship’s massive observation window, musing about their future when suddenly, a massive spaceship materializes in front of them. Cue the ominous music, and the most knowledgeable in the theater informing their friends that the shop likely belongs to Thanos. Since Marvel teased fans with footage of the Guardians finding Thor floating in space, and with all kinds of discussion about Ragnarok leading straight into Infinity War, it seems the logical choice.
Unfortunately, the trailer for the next Avengers shows what happened to Thor’s ship, people, and possibly even brother shortly after the mid-credits scene ended. And no, it isn’t a meeting with Thanos.
The shot in Infinity War‘s trailer showing unidentified feet picking their way through the dead isn’t shocking for a film as massive as this, or an enemy as famously ruthless as Thanos the Mad Titan. But with the next shot revealing Loki with palm outstretched, offering the Tesseract in a gesture of submission, some might assume it’s his feet stepping through the carnage (they’re definitely not Thanos’s, whose legs are three times the size of a regular person’s). But compare the legs to the villain designs, and it’s clear they belong to Ebony Maw – a child of Thanos sent to terrorize, destroy, torment, and kill in the name of his father. And judging by the bodies… he’s done just that to the Asgardian refugees.
The woman in the photo is wearing the exact dress of the Asgardians hurried en masse to Bifrost by Heimdall, and the shoes of the next farthest body are also a match. But the strongest evidence comes with the sleeveless soldier whose body paint and large headdress are an exact match for one of the gladiators who aided Loki and Korg after escaping Sakaar. All dead, scattered across the floor of what can now be seen as the tattered remains of Thor’s ship. The most disturbing detail is that Ebony Maw’s talent isn’t murder, but coercion: he can make people do things they never would in their normal lives. He could even turn a hero into a killer, if the circumstances were right.
And considering how many powerful warriors were on board the ship at the end of Ragnarok… well, we won’t twist the knife by speculating on the person or persons responsible for the slaughtered Asgardians. Whoever did it, it leaves Loki quite possibly begging for his life – or maybe the lives of the surviving Asgardians, as he finally chooses a heroic path over self-serving deception. We know Ebony accepts and delivers the Infinity Stone to Thanos… but the fate of the ship and its passengers are shrouded in mystery for now.
We know that whatever path Thor walks, he winds up on board the Milano with the Guardians of the Galaxy. But it’s what happens between Ebony Maw’s arrival on his ship and being run into by the Guardians that seems the real mystery. As we pointed out in our breakdown of the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, there are several shots of Thor that beg explanation. He can be seen on a ship that doesn’t look like the Milano, and then later trying to will a spaceship’s doors shut through nothing but his biceps (judging by the solar light and heat blasting through the growing gap).
Does Thor find himself taken prisoner by Thanos’s child, only to escape and meet up with the Guardians? Is his mission to prevent the obliteration of the Asgardian survivors, or bring on the ship’s destruction following their deaths to kill Thanos’s servant? Normally, we would expect Thor to simply be reacting to the villains. But having heard how Thor has been hunting Thanos and the Infinity Stones since Civil War, he may be the one hero who could get a step ahead of the enemy. In which case, those Guardians can’t get him back to Earth fast enough.
Will you be disappointed if Thor: Ragnarok set Thor up to be a hero and leader for his people, just so Infinity War could see them killed as part of Thanos’s plan? Or is the added layer to the final scene of Ragnarok something MCU fans have come to appreciate in hindsight? Sound off in the comments.