Warning: SPOILERS below for Thor: Ragnarok!
Thor: Ragnarok returns the God of Thunder to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hasn’t been seen in the MCU since he left Earth at the conclusion of Avengers: Age of Ultron to search for the Infinity Stones. (Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any, as he himself updates us at the start of Ragnarok.) Thor has definitely been missed but as we see in Ragnarok, he goes through a lot of changes in his third movie. By the end of Ragnarok, Thor is missing a couple of key parts of being Thor, yet he seems overall better than ever.
Not only did Thor himself change, but Thor’s return brings with him a whole bunch of significant shifts to the status quo of the MCU. With the build continuing towards next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, let’s look at the major reveals Ragnarok unleashed that have irrevocably altered the MCU:
THE END OF ASGARD
In the first Thor, we learned that Earth is called Midgard, one of the Nine Realms of the cosmos with Asgard as its crown jewel. According to Norse mythology, Ragnarok is the event that causes the end of the gods and the destruction of Asgard. In the MCU’s case, Asgard is prophesied to be destroyed by Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown). Ragnarok is inevitable; nothing Thor and the Revengers do can ultimately save the realm of Asgard, but Thor and we learn that Asgard is not a place – Asgard is its people, whom Thor does save, preserving his culture’s history and legacy.
Odin (Anthony Hopkins) himself dies at the start of Ragnarok and enters Valhalla, but not before he reveals that Thor has an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death and Odin’s firstborn. Hela and Odin together conquered the Nine Realms and made Asgard what it was until two key events happened: Hela wanted to keep going and conquer the entire universe while Odin decided he’d had enough of conquest and wanted to rule as a benevolent king. Odin banished Hela for rising up against him and kept her imprisoned for countless millennia; only his life force actually kept Hela at bay but Odin has reached the end of his long life.
So now, Odin is gone, but Thor has accepted the throne and his destiny as king. The Asgardians survived in a ship heading for Earth. until they ominously encountered an enormous ship that dwarfs theirs in the mid-credits sequence. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed that this ship belongs to Thanos (Josh Brolin), setting up the forthcoming Infinity War. As for why Thanos has decided to loom over Asgard, it has to do with something that Thanos wants – something else that survived the destruction of Asgard…
Related: About That Missing Infinity Stone…
WHAT WAS IN ODIN’S VAULT?
Once she returned to Asgard, Hela visited Odin’s Vault, where some of the greatest and most powerful treasures in the MCU are kept. This is Easter egg central: in the vault is a fake Infinity Gauntlet; the Casket of Ancient Winters, which belonged to the Frost Giants and was introduced in the first Thor; the Crown of Surtur, which Thor had placed in the vault at the beginning of Ragnarok; Odin’s Eternal Flame, which is what Hela was after so she could resurrect her giant wolf Fenris and her Berserker army of the dead; and the big one: the Tesseract, which is also the Space Infinity Stone.
Later, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) also entered the vault and stopped in his tracks at the sight of the Tesseract while on his way to retrieve the Crown of Surtur. Once resurrected, Surtur destroyed Asgard and Odin’s Vault along with it. But what of the Tesseract? While Thor: Ragnarok didn’t explicitly deal with the Infinity Stones – to the chagrin of many MCU fans, Ragnarok was devoid of any solution to the mystery of the missing sixth Infinity Stone, the Soul Stone – Thanos’ ship intercepting the Asgardians’ ship has to be because Loki swiped the Tesseract before Asgard met its end. Thanos must have come to collect the Space Stone.
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