WARNING: This post contains spoilers from Thor: Ragnarok.
In Ragnarok, Skurge is an Asgardian soldier who has fought battles with Thor in the past but is currently doing Heimdall’s job in guarding the Bifröst – the rainbow bridge that connects Asgard to other worlds. Idris Elba’s all-seeing swordsman has gone AWOL because Loki (as Odin) tried to bring charges against him, leaving Skurge to fill the post and use it for his own personal gain, as well as show off to pretty Asgardian ladies. However, when Hela arrives his allegiance to the crown swiftly changes because his own life hangs in the balance.
Soon Skurge becomes Hela’s number one lackie but it’s very clear he doesn’t relish the role. Skurge might be less heroic than his fellow Asgardians who are fighting back, but he hasn’t joined the Goddess of Death because he wants to join her campaign of violence to take over the Nine Realms. He’s a bit of a coward who is all about self-preservation.
It’s not surprising then that he joined Hela straight away. Upon arriving at the Bifröst entrance to Asgard, she takes out two of the realm’s bravest knights in seconds and then goes on to decimate the entire Asgardian army. She is one of the most formidable Marvel villains we’ve seen in recent years and Skurge’s survival instincts kicked in. As Karl Urban explained:
“He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s bright enough to make the right choice for him. He’s a survivalist.”
This is not to say that he deserves our sympathy. The rest of Asgard chose to flee rather than bow to Hela’s rule. He also, albeit reluctantly, agreed to be her executioner and was about to murder an innocent woman on her orders before someone stepped in at the last minute. Further, when it becomes clear that Thor’s side was going to win the final battle he cowardly dons a disguise to get onto the rescue ship.
But while surrounded by his people, and with the threat of undead soldiers about to take out the ship, Skurge has a change of heart and pulls out a pair of machine guns he’d got from Earth and starts taking his former allies out. Losing his place on the rescue ship, he directs his aggression to Hela, and that goes as well as can be expected.
This is a shift to the comic status quo where Skurge – who is likewise a resident of Asgard – is more of a straight-up villain. There’s still some ambiguity, but the list of Avengers he’s stood against beyond Thor is a long one that would make him a more unpopular figure on Earth than perhaps even Loki. All of this makes his eventual heroic turn all the more fulfulling.
In a way, Skurge is like Maya Hansen from Iron Man 3. She’s not a fundamentally bad person but because she so desperately wanted funding to complete her Extremis serum, she allowed Aldrich Killian to use it for nefarious purposes. Skurge valued his own life more than his people and allowed himself to be led by Hela even though he didn’t agree with her mission. Unlike Maya, though, he managed to do something selfless in his final living moments. All Skurge wanted to do was make a name for himself and his final sacrifice will, hopefully, be what he’s remembered for.
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