The Goddess of Death Hela may be the 'villain' of Thor: Ragnarok, but actress Cate Blanchett isn't so sure fans should call her "evil" just yet. In fact, she may be a long overdue force for change in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of Asgard. And yes, all the evidence revealed in trailer and TV spots suggests that Hela will be slaying countless Asgardians as she builds her power and army. It's all in pursuit of Ragnarok - the Norse idea of the apocalypse in which Odin, Thor, Loki, and all the other gods of Asgard will be destroyed. That's the thing Thor is trying to stop by teaming up with Hulk... but we're not sure he truly understand what he's fighting this time around.
Not after visiting the set of Thor: Ragnarok and speaking with actress Cate Blanchett about her character, the antagonist named Hela. The film's star Chris Hemsworth previously gave his opinion that Hela was much more than a typical villain, and that's an assertion Blanchett seems to support. As she sees the story of Ragnarok, the embodiment of death isn't necessarily evil, at all. In a world of essentially immortal warriors living in lasting peace... Death might actually be the first unstoppable force Thor is better off accepting.
Obviously fans will need more than that opinion to sell the idea that Hela isn't pure evil - especially if she kills the returning Thor character that seems doomed to fall as she enters Asgard. Speaking with Blanchett, she concedes that Hela is more than a little 'miffed' at being imprisoned for millennia. But where her plan heads from there... may be far more compelling than fans expect:
She’s been banished for a very long time-- I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say... I think if you were locked under the Asgardian stairs for 5,000 years you'd be a little bit cross. But I think it's very interesting to bring the concept of Death into a world that's ostensibly immortal. You know, you look at the Western world and in most cultures, Death has been banished from the world in which most Western people live. And as a result, I think it's made life rather screwed up.
You know, there's a side of death which can be gentle and kind and there's a side of death which can be brutal and savage, depending on whose death it is. But I think that there's a lot of unresolved issues that she has with Asgard, that each step of the way, she doesn't meet people who are receptive to her. And I think she's quite bewildered as to why people are frightened of her. But the more havoc she wreaks, the stronger she becomes.
That last note seems to be literal, as Blanchett also explained how Hela's changing costume tells her story of "evolution" from beginning to end. Again, a villain who gains her power by slaughtering others has an uphill battle in terms of 'good vs. evil.' But Blanchett's words will carry all kinds of weight for those fans and readers who know the true nature of Ragnarok.
In the Norse mythology, the end of days known as 'Ragnarok' is more horrifying and apocalyptic than a Marvel movie would likely ever allow. But it isn't in service of simple destruction, as has been the apparent motive of more than one MCU villain. The whole point of wiping away life is to allow for a rebirth: a new start for the gods, Asgard, the cosmos, you name it. On a meta level, it's a fitting detail - since Thor: Ragnarok seems to be restarting the film series. On a fictional level, seeing death as an evil, hopeless defeat isn't a healthy standpoint at all: everything dies, sooner or later. At least, that's the usual law of nature... unless Odin vanquished Hela and Death thousands of years before the first Thor movie.
We've already spun our theory on how and why Odin's battle with Hela is based on Infinity Stones, but it seems to be all but confirmed that Odin was keeping Hela under lock and key... and when Loki took the throne, she began to work her way out. So, is Blanchett's assertion right, and Odin's gift of immortality to Asgardians is having terrible consequences we may not yet see? And if so, is the return of death to the realm of Asgard something to be fiercely contested, or accepted once Thor has gained the temperance of the King of Asgard?
Only the finished movie will answer those questions, but let us know what you think of the idea that Death may not actually be evil, or the real threat facing Thor in Ragnarok.
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017