"Who would win?" is a question tossed around by comic book fans with abandon, mixing and matching the combinations of heroes and villains that they'd like to see go head-to-head in combat.
Thanks to Thor: Ragnarok, we're about to see Thor and Hulk, one of the most oft-mentioned pairings, go toe to toe in gladiatorial combat, following their more unofficial skirmish in the first Avengers film.
Given the setting of an outer-space coliseum designed to pit the galaxy's deadliest fighters against each other, it's hard not to imagine other match-ups or fighters that Thor could witness during his time in the arena, forced to battle by Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster.
This is a list of Marvel characters who should fight as gladiators in Thor: Ragnarok. While we'd likely know by now if some of these were appearing, they're all in the realm of possibility, either as the introduction of a character from the comics into the MCU, or previously established characters who somehow find themselves stuck in this particularly brutal and vibrant corner of the cosmic Marvel Universe. All of them have deadly skills to bring to the arena, and the potential to serve as allies or enemies to Thor and the Hulk on their adventure.
Here are the 15 Marvel Gladiators Who Need To Be In Thor Ragnarok.
15 Captain America
While Captain America has kept his adventures Earth-bound so far, it seems likely with Avengers: Infinity War looming that his world is going to collide with the more cosmic elements of the MCU sooner rather than later.
Given that both Thor and Hulk are presumably missing by the time they're stuck in the arena, it doesn't seem totally outside the realm of possibility that Steve Rogers could come looking for his friends and teammates.
If he did somehow find his way into the coliseum, he seems perfectly equipped to survive it, given his shield and considerable combat skills. While some may say he lacks the ruthlessness necessary to survive gladiatorial combat, it's important to remember that Cap's skills were forged in the gauntlet of war.
When people mention that Dave Bautista's performance as Drax is the highlight of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, it's his comedic contributions to the franchise that are often mentioned, with little to no recognition given the genuinely imposing physicality that he brings to the jolly green Guardian.
A combat arena seems like a place where Drax could thrive, giving into his berserker rage and likely throwing off an oblivious one-liner or two about the bizarre alien combatants he'd be facing.
Thor: Ragnarok already seems to inhabit a similar corner of the Marvel cosmic universe to Guardians, with the trailer exhibiting a similarly vibrant and and retro aesthetic. Combining the tones of the Avengers and Guardians movies is a great idea as is, but why not take it a step further by introducing some of the characters prior to their big team-up in Avengers: Infinity War?
The first Guardians of the Galaxy film introduced to the Nova Corps, the Xandar-based cosmic police force headed up by Glenn Close's Nova Prime, and left fans clamoring for the eventual introduction of Richard Ryder, aka Nova.
In the comics, after a cataclysmic event leaves the Nova Corps decimated, Richard ends up taking on all of of their power by himself, making him a truly cosmic force to be reckoned with. While the Nova Corps has so far been portrayed very differently in the MCU than in the comics, it seems feasible that a similar event could leave a hapless human member of the Nova Corps in possession of more power than he knows what to do with.
While it has always seemed most likely that Nova's eventual introduction would come in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he's just as likely to pop up as a gladiator in Thor: Ragnarok. If the Grandmaster's arena somehow captured a Nova Corps officer, making it the human Ryder would give Thor a connection to his adopted planet, as well as be a great easter egg for fans.
12 The Warbound
In Planet Hulk, the beloved Hulk storyline that parts of Thor: Ragnarok seem to be adapted from, Hulk adopts a family of warriors to get him through his time in the arena.
There's the stone Korg, the monk Hiroim, the bug-like Miek, and the hive-minded Brood. While the MCU doesn't have the rights to The Brood, Korg is already confirmed to be played by Thor: Ragnarok's director, Taika Waititi, in the film. It would be great to see one of the other member's of the Warbound appear as well.
Miek seems like the most obvious choice, especially given the arc that he has in Planet Hulk, transforming over time from a minuscule bug-man who worships the Hulk, into a more formidable bug-monster who has become disillusioned with his angry, green mentor.
11 Rocket and Groot
While it would be easy to fill this list with Guardians of the Galaxy characters, Rocket and Groot seem like the most likely characters (after Drax) to find themselves in this kind of mess. Due to Rocket's penchant for stealing and Groot's general obliviousness, it's easy to imagine them being thrown into an arena to atone for their crimes.
They would, of course, fight as a team, which their jailers would likely allow, given Rocket's stature and apparent harmlessness. Considering that Groot is likely to have returned to full-size by the events of this movie, as the movie takes place years after Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, they would be more than capable of holding their own against all manner of alien warriors, especially given the level of trust and teamwork between them.
Plus, who doesn't want to see Rocket and Groot hang out with the Hulk?
In addition to the presumably hilarious banter that would emerge between Scott Lang, Hulk, and Thor, Ant-Man seems like a character with something fun and unique to the gladiator setting of Thor: Ragnarok, both in personality and fighting style. Captain America: Civil War showed him as a genuine threat who could hold his own against more seasoned heroes, even before busting out the big guns and growing into a giant.
Its unclear exactly how Scott would find his way onto an alien planet, but like the rest of Earth's heroes, his life is about to get much more cosmic very quickly. While he's probably going to be freaked out as it is when he goes up against Thanos and his cronies, it would be a blast to see Ant-Man thrown into the deep-end of the MCU, and have to fight for his life in deadly combat. Plus, his powers would bring a level of finesse and trickery that Hulk and Thor are sorely lacking in.
9 Red Hulk
Why settle for one Hulk when you could have two? In the comics, Red Hulk is Bruce Banner's long-time nemesis General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, whose last MCU appearance was as a liaison for the government in Captain America: Civil War. In fact, it was originally planned that Ross would Hulk out at some point in that film, but the idea was scrapped when it became apparent how overstuffed the film was was risk of getting.
While the old-school green variety of Hulk is said to get stronger the madder he gets, the Red Hulk gets hotter, giving off more and more radiation. It would be fascinating to see the Red Hulk forced to survive alongside Hulk and Thor in the coliseum, only for it to be revealed that he was actually General Ross.
8 Iron Man Armor
Tony Stark is keeping himself busy these days, with appearances in a huge number of MCU movies. Considering that he's likely to play a large role in Avengers: Infinity War and its unnamed sequel, the possibility of his appearing in Thor:Ragnarok seems remote. Fortunately, its become clear that Tony doesn't need to be somewhere for Iron Man to be there. It would be interesting to see a rogue suit of Iron Man armor forced to prove itself in the arena, either with Tony's influence or without.
Maybe Tony sent some armor to search for the Hulk, or perhaps it got conscripted by some sort of alien life-form or virus, but imagine Thor and Hulk encountering something so familiar so far from home. It could be a new suit of armor previously unseen in the Marvel Universe, or the Hulk could get a chance at a rematch against the Hulkbuster suit.
Thor's amiable and bearded friend Volstagg is having a big year in the comics, which makes it a perfect time for him to seek a higher profile in the MCU. While any of the Warriors Three could feasibly make an appearance, Volstagg seems like the one with the most potential in a gladiator situation, not only because of his fearsome stature and skills with a giant axe, but also for his gruff-yet-genial persona.
Thor is going to run across a friendly face from Earth in the form of the Hulk, so Volstagg could serve as his remaining connection to Asgard. Of course, given the name Ragnarok and the high-stakes events that seem to lead Thor to his imprisonment in the coliseum, it's possible that Volstagg is no longer alive at the time. If he is, though, it would be a blast to see him put that axe to good work as one of Thor and Hulk's fellow gladiators.
Unseen and imprisoned since the early days of the MCU, Emil Blonsky, aka The Abomination, is more than ready to make his reemergence onto the superhero scene. In addition to being played by beloved actor Tim Roth, the Incredible Hulk villain is one of the only other people in the MCU besides Thor who can go toe-to-toe against the Hulk, and his presence would be sure to be a major complication.
Rumored to be held in a secure S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, it's unclear how Blonsky would make his way into the far reaches of the universe, but it's a safe bet that he would enjoy nothing more than an opportunity to take another shot at the Hulk. If he were outfitted with gladiator equipment similar to the equipment that Hulk has been seen wearing in the trailers, this would surely be a re-match for the ages.
5 Beta Ray Bill
Referred to by casual fans as "that horse-faced Thor," Beta Ray Bill is actually an alien Korbinite with such a noble heart that he was deemed worthy of wielding Thor's hammer Mjolnir. Eventually getting a hammer of his own called Stormbreaker, Bill and Thor have fought side-by-side many times. Beta Ray Bill even has a connection the Planet Hulk storyline, having appeared as a gladiator for the Hulk to fight in the animated adaptation.
Given that he's yet to appear in the MCU, and that fans love him both as a character and a ridiculous novelty, he seems like a real possibility to appear. As one of the few yet-to-be-introduced characters with a strong connection to both Hulk and Thor, Bill's appearance (or the appearance of any member of the Korbinite race) would surely be met with cheers by the fans.
Heimdall, the stoic and mysterious defender of the Rainbow Bridge, is a force to be reckoned with, which is something that has become apparent over the course of the last two Thor films. Based on the trailers for Thor: Ragnarok, it seems as though Heimdall is going to have to dive even deeper into the fray to defend Asgard, casting aside his position as a perpetual observer.
It's unclear what the state of Asgard will be by the time that Thor ends up stranded, but if one of his fellow Asgardians were to end up accompanying him into the fighting pits, Heimdall would be the most interesting choice. Unlike Volstagg, Heimdall and Thor are not close friends, which means that their relationship would be tested, and get the opportunity to develop over the course of their adventure together.
It would also be interesting to see how Heimdall would get along with Hulk, whose unbridled rage contrasts with the Asgardian's calm, collected demeanor.
The only other character in the MCU besides Thor who has been seen picking up and wielding Mjolnir, The Vision seems like exactly the person that the Avengers would send into outer space in search of Hulk and Thor. In addition to being better suited to the environmental challenges, he's powered by an Infinity Stone, which makes him one of the most formidable heroes in the MCU.
It does seem unlikely that Thor would run into more than one "friend from work" in the Grandmaster's coliseum, but given the Vision's connection to Thor's mighty hammer (which seems to be going through some hard times in Ragnarok), it could be fascinating to see how such an unnervingly calm presence inserts himself into a fraught situation with two personalities as versatile as Thor and Hulk.
2 The Destroyer
Originally faced by the God of Thunder in his first MCU film, Thor, The Destroyer is a vastly powerful suit of Asgardian armor.
Damaged beyond any ability to function, the armor was presumably returned to Odin's treasure room, where it has been sitting until the next time someone wants to use it to beat up Thor. Asgard seems to be going through some rough times over the course of Thor: Ragnarok, so there's no telling where the many powerful contents of its treasure vaults will end up, including the Destroyer armor.
As a familiar enemy to Thor, if The Destroyer were to emerge again in the gladiator pits, it would likely be in a form unfamiliar to our hero. Either controlled by alien forces, or repaired with mysterious technology, The Destroyer could face off against Hulk or Thor.
1 The Black Order
Rumor has it that Thanos's squad of generals, the Black Order (or Cul Obsidian) are set to appear in Avengers: Infinity War, a rumor that has been bolstered by set photos and actor interviews. Each member of the Order is incredibly powerful on their own, and together they promise to pose a threat to even Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
However, introducing five new villains all in one movie sounds like an uphill battle, so why not take the opportunity to introduce audiences to one or two of them in the gladiator pits of Thor: Ragnarok?
Black Dwarf, the massive bruiser of the bunch, seems like the most obvious choice, although neither Supergiant or Proxima Midnight, both heavy hitters, would be out of place battling Thor or Hulk in the arena. It would give Marvel a chance to introduce the Black Order as a credible threat before they start messing everything up in Infinity War, and it would provide Hulk and Thor with a cool new alien threat to test their strength against.
Who would you like to see as a gladiator in Thor: Ragnarok? Let us know in the comments below!