[SPOILERS for Thor: Ragnarok ahead.]
According to Thor: Ragnarok co-screenwriter Eric Pearson, the film’s ending serves to complete Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) evolution from a selfish prince of Asgard into a “selfless king” for his people. In addition to providing the payoff to Thor’s character arc over the course of the Thor movie trilogy (and his two Avengers movie appearances to date), Pearson says the conclusion to Ragnarok sets the stage for what’s to come in the God of Thunder’s personal journey, when Avengers: Infinity War picks up with him next year.
As silly and comedic as director Taika Waitit’s vision for Thor: Ragnarok ultimately wound up being, the film’s ending certainly shakes things up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a dramatic sense. By the time the movie’s end credits start rolling, Asgard itself has been destroyed by Surtur (Clancy Brown) and the prophecy of Ragnarok itself has been fulfilled; Odin himself (Anthony Hopkins) has died and gone to Valhalla; and Thor has lost an eye and is now traveling through the cosmos on a spaceship with his people, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and a trouble-making Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Related: Did Loki Steal the Tesseract?
As Pearson told THR, the idea of destroying Asgard in the film was one that he supported from the get-go, during his time working on Ragnarok. He explained how this allows the movie to live up to the mythic implications of its title, at the same time that it continues the personal journey that was set in motion six years ago – when Odin first banished Thor to Earth without his superhuman abilities and trusty hammer Mjolnir (RIP):
I forget exactly how that idea came up, but I remember bringing it up right at the beginning. One of the previous works had Asgard not really being destroyed, or being rebuilt or something. Well, it’s Ragnarok. That means apocalypse in Norse mythology. Don’t we got to blow it up? We really got to do it here, and I think we can’t be scared of it. The idea of making Thor a quasi-Noah figure … in getting everyone onto the arc to preserve them — I think I knew right from the beginning we had to do that. It was more about the tricky thing of making it Thor’s choice. It wasn’t that he just lost a huge battle. He learned something more about being a ruler that the people are the kingdom, not the space itself. As a king, as a selfless king, you’ve got to make sacrifices. We tried to present him with a no-win scenario, and he made the right choice to continue on the Asgardian lineage, as opposed to trying to punch his problems to death.
The conclusion to Ragnarok, in turn, frees Thor and his people of that baggage left by Odin’s violent legacy. While Thor’s father had become a benevolent ruler by the time that audiences met him in the God of Thunder’s first solo film, Ragnarok exposes a dark truth that had been (literally) hidden away behind painted ceilings and stone walls in Asgard: that once upon a time, Odin and his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) were both colonialists hellbent on conquering the Nine Realms and beyond, before Odin had a change of heart. Now that the remnants of Odin’s empire have been wiped away, Thor and his people have been given a chance to start anew and lead the peaceful existence that their old king had wanted for them in his later years.
Before that can happen, of course, there’s the little problem in the form of Thanos (Josh Brolin) to deal with. Pearson addressed Ragnarok‘s mid-credits scene (where Thor and the surviving Asgardians encounter Thanos’ massive spaceship, the Sanctuary II) during his interview with THR and confirmed that he had a hand in crafting that sequence in the film:
I wrote that one as well. I left Thor shooting in Australia early, because they flew me to Atlanta to help out [Avengers screenwriters Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely with Infinity War and untitled Avengers 4, which was totally awesome. I cannot say how excited I am and what an amazing job those guys are doing. I think they were just so crammed for time there, and I’d worked with them previously on Agent Carter, and just from being in Marvel, we knew each other. So I think they were comfortable with me coming in and whenever they are working on one, I was kind of keeping the other one moving forward. I do know what’s going on there, but I am terrified to say anything. Part of the reason we got sent over there is Ragnarok was so different than the other two, Hemsworth especially wanted to keep that continuity going for his character and his arc. I think also for [Mark] Ruffalo and Hulk, the stuff going on for them in the next two movies is some of my favorite.
As noted by Pearson, Ragnarok‘s game-changing conclusion also serves as the beginning of a new trilogy for Hulk and Thor alike, making its events all the more significant in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from a narrative standpoint. In addition to having one less eye and a different haircut, Thor in particular will be a far more mature warrior that the one who joined forces with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop Loki from taking over Earth all those years again, by the time that Infinity War picks up. Seeing as the next two Avengers films are poised to shake things up in the MCU even more than Rangarok did, there is a real possibility that Thor will make the ultimate sacrifice in the battle against Thanos in order to protect his people – further proving just how “selfless” a king he truly has become.
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