Thor: Ragnarok isn't just one of the most anticipated comic book movies of 2017, it's one of 2017's most eagerly-anticipated movies, period. The epic cosmic installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will feature Thor himself (obviously), the Hulk, and Doctor Strange, amongst a plethora of other weird and wonderful characters from across the galaxy. These will include Loki, Odin, the Collector, the Grandmaster, Hela, Skurge the Executioner, and Valkyrie — and that's not even close to mentioning everyone.
One aspect of the movie that is certain to showcase an abundance of fun, bizarre characters is the gladiatorial arena (the subplot of the movie taken from the Planet Hulk story arc from the comic books). Hulk and Thor will both find themselves as captive gladiators on the distant planet of Sakaar, fighting against beings from all corners of the cosmos. The awesome first teaser trailer from earlier this week even showed them going into battle against each other, which is sure to be the highlight of the film.
At this stage, we have no real idea about who the other gladiators might be — but it's certainly fun to speculate, and that's exactly what we've done here. So, let us run you through sixteen gladiators we'd love to see in Thor: Ragnarok.
16 The Red King
Now, although we know that the Grandmaster — played by Jeff Goldblum, no less — will be in charge of the gladiator battles in Thor: Ragnarok, that doesn't mean there won't be any space in the movie for the Red King, who was the emperor of the gladiatorial planet of Sakaar and ran the battles in both the Planet Hulk comic book arc and animated movie.
The Red King may still be the planet's overlord, a ruler who simply allows the Grandmaster to oversee events in his gladiatorial arena, and that would be awesome. In the Planet Hulk story, the Red King tires of the Hulk's dominance in the arena and dons his impressive golden power armor and takes on the Green Goliath in a gladiatorial battle. That would be absolutely fantastic to see in live-action (think Hulk versus the Hulkbuster armor, but the man in the armor wants to absolutely destroy him this time, not just put him to sleep).
15 Lavin Skee
Lavin Skee was an Imperial Guardsman who was extremely loyal to the aforementioned Red King. When his master, Ronan Kaifi, was forced to become a gladiator because he spoke out against the Red King's empire, Skee was pushed into the arena as well. His master was killed while training for battle, and Lavin Skee took it upon himself to defend Elloe, his master's daughter, as a result.
Skee died fighting alongside the Hulk and his gladiatorial allies when they were attempted to fight for their freedom. He was subsequently given a hero's funeral by his teammates, and was integral in uniting the gladiators to form the team that would become known as the Warbound. It would be great to see him in live-action as a gladiator in Thor: Ragnarok, as his death and the subsequent coming together of Hulk and his fellow gladiators would potentially hint towards a World War Hulk arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward.
Caiera was a former slave to the aforementioned Red King who worked her way up to becoming the Lieutenant of his army. Having previously fought against the Hulk in the gladiatorial arena, she eventually turned on the Red King and allied with the Green Goliath, becoming a prominent member of the Warbound group that he led.
The two eventually married, though she later died while pregnant with his twin sons, Skaar and Hiro Kala. It would be fantastic to see her in Thor: Ragnarok, as her inclusion in the movie could have some epic ramifications going forward — not least in the form of the World War Hulk story arc and the birth of Hulk's two sons, who could go on to be extremely intriguing adversaries of their father in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in future franchise outings. If nothing else, it would be cool as hell to see her wielding her awesome blade in the gladiatorial arena.
13 John Cena
Back in November, thanks to an odd addition to the film's IMDB page, there was a rumor floating around that WWE superstar John Cena has been cast in Thor: Ragnarok. Although it isn't certain who he's playing, rumor has it that he's supposedly been cast as himself. While this might simply mean that there's a scene in the movie taking place at a WWE wrestling event on Earth, we're actually hoping that Cena has a far more interesting cameo than that.
With that in mind, we want to see John Cena in the gladiatorial arena! The concept of the arena (in Planet Hulk, at least) is that the organizers capture and enslave warrior beings from all over the universe to participate in battles. It would be funny, therefore, to see him there because folks who kidnapped and brought him there mistook him for a real warrior, having observed him "competing" at the top of the WWE food chain for so many years.
We'd settle for seeing him play some sort of alien warrior, of course, but if Ragnarok is as much of a comedy as director Taika Waititi would have us believe, an entirely human John Cena getting dropped in the arena against superpowered galactic warriors could get a big laugh.
12 Howard the Duck
Now this would be great. It would make a fantastic ongoing joke if we just kept seeing Howard the Duck in unfortunate situations across the cosmos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having him cameo in the franchise again, this time as a captive gladiator in Thor: Ragnarok — after having previously seen him captive as an exhibit in the Collector's museum in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy — would be funny as hell. The poor guy!
Perhaps it could be considered revenge on the character for his terrible 1986 movie! Seriously, that movie was absolutely horrific! Howard wouldn't stand much of a chance against the likes of the Hulk and Thor in the gladiatorial arena, but it would certainly raise a few laughs to see him try. Judging by his reaction to seeing the Collector getting his face licked by Cosmo at the end of the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy, his reaction to the whole thing would be pretty hilarious, too.
Miek is an insect-like being from the Planet Hulk story arc. Having been captured and enslaved for gladiatorial combat along with the Hulk, Miek was one of the characters who allied with the Green Goliath and went on to form the Warbound with him. As we've already stated, including these guys in some capacity could tease a World War Hulk Marvel Cinematic Universe arc in future, the awesomeness of which cannot be understated. Miek is a capable fighter, but somewhat more timid than the other Warbound members, which would add an interesting dynamic to the group.
Miek would look fantastic in live-action, so it would be awesome to see him for aesthetic purposes alone. By association, Miek's fellow insectoid Sakaaran natives — such as Mung — could also join him on screen, which would be great. We've already had talking raccoons and giant walking trees in the MCU, so why not giant, talking insects?! Absolutely anything is possible in the Marvel world, and nothing should be unexpected now.
Arch-E-5912 — otherwise known simply as Arch-E — is a non-organic android of the lifeforms known as Wildebots. His specific origins are unknown, but it is assumed he was originally a slave to the Red King who ended up in the gladiatorial arena on Sakaar after he revolted against the ruthless leader in some fashion. He became part of Hulk's Warbound group and fought alongside the Hulk against his presumed former leader's regime (and indeed, beyond that).
Arch-E is a skilled pilot and communications bot who could end up being the key to the Hulk returning to Earth. He would add further variation and diversity to the gladiator roster on Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok, as he would likely be the only robotic character present amongst the gladiators. Most importantly, if the Warbound are going to be a thing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would be a travesty to have them without Arch-E alongst their ranks.
9 Elloe Kaifi
We've already mentioned Ronan Kaifi in this article (he was Lavin Skee's master), so now it's time to get to know his daughter a little better. Ello Kaifi was sent to the gladiatorial arena along with Skee (who served as her bodyguard) when her father spoke out against the Red King's regime. Although she was initially a very weak combatant, Skee trained her when he knew she was going to be forced to fight in the arena, and she became far more adept in battle as a result.
She ended up fighting alongside the Hulk as part of his Warbound group and was one of the more dedicated members when it came to bringing the Red King down. She went on to fight with the aforementioned Miek in the arena before the Green Goliath put a stop to all that. It would be awesome to see her character develop from a timid young girl to a badass warrior in Thor: Ragnarok, should she end up being included in the movie.
Hiroim was originally a shadow priest on Sakaar who was dedicated to the story of the Sakaarson, the being who would unite the people of Sakaar by bringing down its evil reigning emperor (the chosen one would turn out to be the Hulk himself, of course). Hiroim was expelled from his order for daring to dream that he could actually be the Sakaarson. He ended up being forced to suit up in the gladiatorial arena, where he ended up fighting alongside the Hulk as part of his Warbound group.
After the group brought the empire down, Hiroim accepted that Hulk was the Sakaarson, and seeing that little subplot unfold in Thor: Ragnarok would be pretty cool. When his fellow shadow priests all perished, he absorbed all of their powers, making him a valuable asset to Hulk in the World War Hulk storyline — which, again, we'd all absolutely love to see in the future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The final character from the Warbound that we're including here is the Kronan, stone-like warrior known as Korg (we're not including the No-Name Brood, as the movie rights to her species are owned by Fox). You may currently be screaming at your computer monitor/cellphone that Korg has already been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — in 2013's Thor: The Dark World, when Thor used Mjolnir to smash a Kronan warrior to rubble — but it wasn't him!
Everyone just seemed to... assume it was him, and he subsequently appeared on MCU wikis as an existing (albeit deceased) character in the franchise. But the rock warrior was never named and, frankly, it could have been any Kronan warrior. Assuming that the Kronan character in Thor: The Dark World was Korg is like assuming any blond, blue-eyed human character is Captain America, which is just silly. If the Warbound are going to be a thing in the MCU, Korg is essential, and it'd be fun to see the Hulk fighting alongside such a cool looking character in the gladiatorial arena regardless. It could be the closest we'll ever get to seeing the Green Goliath fighting alongside The Thing. Damn you, movie rights!
Now admittedly, this guy is probably the most underwhelming entry on this list, but bear with us, as he definitely serves a purpose. You might not even remember him (you might not even have ever heard of him!), but Vin-Tak is a warrior who appeared in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series, when he came to Earth in the season two episode "Who You Really Are" in order to put an end to the Terrigenesis experiments that were originally conducted by his species — the ancient Kree.
At the end of the episode, he was taken back to his homeworld of Hala by Lady Sif, but he could easily have been captured and taken to Sakaar to become a gladiator since then. He'd be a cool way to link Thor: Ragnarok to both the Kree lore in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the franchise's television shows because, as fans, we love to see cool little easter eggs like that.
5 Red Skull
Yeah, this is one of the most unlikely possibilities from the entries on this list (in fact, it's probably nothing more than a pipe dream at this point), as Marvel Studios will have bigger plans for Red Skull if they choose to bring him back. But suspend your disbelief for a moment and imagine the reveal that the Star-Spangled Avenger's arch-nemesis had been transported to Sakaar by the Tesseract and was now a champion gladiator!
The Nazi supervillain last appeared in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, of course, in which he was portrayed by Hugo Weaving, and he's more likely to return as Thanos' general during the Avengers: Infinity War event if he ever returns at all. But seeing him in Thor: Ragnarok would undoubtedly be cool as hell. And when you really think about it, having him appear as a successful gladiator in Thor: Ragnarok could be an ideal way for Red Skull to impress Thanos enough for the Mad Titan to recruit him for Avengers: Infinity War — so maybe we shouldn't rule the idea out entirely!
4 Stan Lee
In addition to narrating several Marvel television shows over the years, company legend Stan Lee has been making cameo appearances in their movies and television shows ever since he first popped up in 1989's The Trial of the Incredible Hulk television movie. Having most recently appeared as a book-reading bus passenger in 2016's Doctor Strange, he will undoubtedly be making a similar appearance in Thor: Ragnarok.
With that in mind, what better way to incorporate his obligatory cameo than by having him appear as a badass elderly gladiator in the same arena that Hulk and Thor are being forced to fight in?! It would be hilarious to see Lee standing amongst a large group of muscular warriors, fearsome aliens, and dangerous creatures, asking something along the lines of, "so who do I get to beat up next?!" Seriously, it would probably raise the biggest laugh out of any of his cameos to date.
3 The Venom Symbiote
Now that Spider-Man has taken his rightful place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel fans are hoping to see the webbed wonder's classic villains appear in the franchise too — and that, of course, includes Venom. Venom appeared in 2007's Spider-Man 3, but Topher Grace's wimpy version of the character was widely panned (by fans and critics alike) and it would be great to see Marvel make amends for Sony's mistake with a better live action depiction.
There could be an issue with Venom appearing currently, given that Sony wants to start their own new movie franchise with Spider-Man supporting characters, but there could be a way around it. Venom is generally presented as a character who is a fusion between a human and a symbiotic alien, as well as a member of the Klyntar species. If a nameless Klyntar symbiote was depicted as a captive gladiator in Thor: Ragnarok, that would be a great way to show that the species exists in the MCU — and it could easily hitch a ride to Earth with Hulk et al, ready to appear in a Spider-Man movie, should Marvel Studios end up with the rights to the Venom character in the future.
This character is somewhat unique on this list, as he's the only one we already know is definitely going to be in Thor: Ragnarok. He is, of course, the Grandmaster, and he will be played by Jurassic Park and The Fly star Jeff Goldblum. The Grandmaster is one of the Elders of the Universe — one of whom we've already been introduced to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in the form of Benicio del Toro's Collector — and he is a very powerful individual.
Goldblum's version of the character will actually be the one running the gladiatorial arena in Thor: Ragnarok, but it would be awesome to see him flex his cosmic muscle by fighting in it too (perhaps when the Hulk's repeated success starts to get on his nerves!). We haven't really seen exactly what the Elders are capable of in the MCU, and this would be an ideal opportunity to show us.
1 Beta Ray Bill
Of all the gladiators we want to see fighting in the arena in Thor: Ragnarok, Beta Ray Bill is undoubtedly the one we want to see the most. Fans have been pining for this guy to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some time, and the (possibly intentional?) teases are starting to wear thin. A few moviegoers thought they saw him in the Collector's museum in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy (it wasn't him), a skeleton that resembled a member of Bill's Korbinite species was seen in the same movie, and several people thought they'd seen his ship, Skuttlebutt, in the trailers for 2013's Thor: The Dark World (it turned out to be a Dark Elf vessel).
Beta Ray Bill was the character who replaced the Silver Surfer in the Planet Hulk animated movie, after the Silver Surfer had appeared in the original comic book arc. Given the fact that the Silver Surfer's movie rights are tied up with Fox -- speaking of things that are wearing thin -- there's a chance that this could actually happen in live-action. Bill could be a major character in the MCU going forward (and he could be the one who releases Hulk and Thor from their captivity) and this could be an ideal way to introduce him. He's quite possibly the most popular Thor character that has yet to make his way to the big screen, and he could make a big splash by debuting in the gladiatorial arena.
Who else do you want to see pop up in the fighting pits of Sakaar? Did we forget any of your favorites? Sound off in the comments!