WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Thor: Ragnarok
While the rest of Marvel's heroes were feuding in a Civil War, Thor was busy searching the universe for the Infinity Stones - and the evil conqueror, Thanos, looking to unite them. That's the story that MCU fans will be dropped into when Thor: Ragnarok begins, as we were brought up to speed on the god of thunder's past few years of activity during our visit to the movie's set. The studio may be looking to effectively restart the solo Thor movie series with Ragnarok, but that doesn't mean his role in previous Avengers films has changed.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron used an Infinity Stone to give Thor a glimpse of the future: one in which the many cosmic plot devices of the Marvel Universe were united in one Infinity Gauntlet, eventually leading to the death of Asgard, among others. When Ultron was defeated, Thor set off to uncover the truth and the culprit. It's a journey that has spanned "years" since, and when Ragnarok begins, audiences will understand why Thor missed Marvel's Civil War to deal with a universal threat - even before the colossal Infinity War begins.
During our visit to the Ragnarok set, much of the action focused, understandably, on Thor's own Planet Hulk crossover and how Cate Blanchett will put other Marvel villains to shame. But as much as Ragnarok may seem like a standalone Thor movie, producer Brad Winderbaum explains why Thor's journey into Hulk-infested gladiator planets and a battle with Surtur himself is actually evidence that the Infinity War is more complicated than most might assume:
The journey he's been on at the beginning of this movie, it's not like five minutes after Ultron ends we start this movie: it's a couple years later. And as we know, at the end of Ultron he's started this quest to find the puppet master, and the Infinity Stones, and all that. What he realized really fast-- I don't think I'm giving too much away because it's right at the top of the film, but basically that one quest, that universe-ending peril that he was trying to figure out dovetailed or branched off into any number of universe ending-perils that he's been adventuring on for the two years leading up to the beginning of this film.
The "beginning" of the film, as alluded to by Winderbaum, sees Thor transported to Muspelheim, the Norse realm of Hell ruled by the immense fiery demon Surtur. Fans have come up with some compelling theories as to why Thor travels to the realm, but make no mistake: he's still on the same mission he left Ultron to begin. And even though Thanos has concealed himself well enough to escape confrontation from the god of thunder so far, the clock is ticking - and Thor is only getting more and more formidable.
The idea that Ragnarok will see Thor accept the throne of Asgard is being emphasized as a major theme of the movie, and it's not hard t see why, since Thor becoming Asgard's true king help set the stage for Infinity War. Thanos may not have anticipated that the Asgardian would become a clever, calculating cosmic cowboy before he united the Infinity Stones, but one must assume Thanos knows how Thor has been spending his time. Unless, of course, Thor's ascent to king does little to stop Ragnarok from living up to its name... which was Thanos's plan all along.
No matter the fate of Asgard, there's no question Thor survives to see Infinity War. And according to Winderbaum, Thor will be relied upon for much more than brute strength or lightning once the Avengers story goes cosmic. In a far more accurate adaptation of the comics, fans should expect to see a Thor in Ragnarok capable of leading the Avengers against even Thanos:
We find him as a lone gunslinger, you know, a guy who’s been adventuring around the cosmos for two years right at the top of our movie. He's a more savvy version of the character. In Dark World he has trouble navigating that Dark Elf spaceship... but that's the Thor of the past.
It's a good thing Thanos has backup in Infinity War - because he's going to need them.
Thor: Ragnarok advance tickets are now on sale wherever tickets are sold.
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017