So in the comics Hela rules the realms of the dead which includes both Hel and Niflheim, she was appointed the Goddess of death by Odin himself after she came of age. She is pretty obsessed with Valhalla, or more specifically the souls of the inhabitants, and often tries to extend her reach to gain control over it, preferring the souls of immortals she tends not to interact with lesser beings. We don’t actually get a look at any of the realms she commands, the location where Thor is chained up is actually Muspelheim the domain of Fire Lord Surtur. We don’t know much about her history except that at some point she fought against the Valkyries, presumably because they are the ones who ferry the souls of heroes to Valhalla, which she would like to procure.
Here’s a few facts about Hela from the comics, comparisons to whether they line up with what we know about the movie incarnation, and things to keep an eye out for when you do see the film.
1. Loki Family Ties
The daughter of a past incarnation of Loki and the giant Angrboda, born in Jotunheim Hela actually shares more similarities with a typical Asgardian than a Frost Giant. The Goddess also has two brothers Fenris Wolf and Jormungand, Fenris is a 15 foot wolf with human intelligence capable of size alteration and shape-shifting, he was banished to a part of Asgard called Varinheim. Jormungand is also known as the Midgard Serpent, this is because he resides a the bottom of Earths oceans by Odin’s command. Both of Hela’s brothers are featured in the prophecies of Ragnarok, Fenris said to kill Odin, and the Serpent Thor.
I wouldn’t expect a reference to any family lineage in the film as people may understandably find it all bit confusing, but based off Hela and Loki’s matching color schemes maybe they share a family tailor. Fenris is known to be a part of Thor: Ragnarok but I don’t see a way for Jormungand to fit into the story, with so many CGI characters already in the film and actors Sam Neill and Cohen Holloway playing unknown characters you never truly know what Marvel will pull out of the hat but I wouldn’t count on more than a reference or Easter egg.
2. Powers and Abilities
Traditionally Hela’s cloak is an incredible source of power for her, without it she is severely weakened and her true form is revealed. Although she normally appears as a beautiful woman its a bit of an illusion, with a straight split down the middle her left side is actually deformed and decayed. Typically she’s got all the superhuman traits of any other Asgardian but with a bit of magic thrown on top, she has power of life and death over the gods of Asgard able to kill or revive with a touch, can fire bolts of energy from her hands, and astral project similarly to Doctor Strange.
While she does display mastery over the dead in the trailers for Thor: Ragnarok controlling the risen corpses of the Asgardian army, I’m not sure that we will see much else in the way of her classic skill set. My understanding is that the onscreen Hela will draw from a character who is a recent addition to the Thor comics, first appearing in Thor: God of Thunder #2 Gorr the God Butcher. Gorr wielded All-Black the Necrosword which grants its owner the ability to control and manipulate constructs made of darkness, kind of like a Green Lantern ring, the sword grew in power with each god it killed drawing strength from their blood. The sword we see Cate Blanchett holding while facing off against the Valkyries in the trailer looks very similar to the Necrosword, don’t expect to see all of the swords traits though as the filmmakers have opted to cherry pick, granting Blanchett’s character the ability to manifest an unlimited amount of weapons that don’t seem to be shadow constructs either.
3. Thanos Relationship
Recently Hela appeared in The Unworthy Thor #5 where she struck a deal with Thanos, the Mad Titan was attempting to gain control of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. Initially the pair made a deal that in exchange for acquiring the mighty weapon for Thanos he would help Hela reclaim her domain of Niflheim, which she had recently lost to her aunt. Having been unsuccessful in retrieving the weapon despite aid from some of Thanos’ followers she instead (for his assistance) promises the Mad Titan death and sealed the deal with a kiss.
Thanos is know to be infatuated with the female incarnation of death in the comics, it seems far more likely that in the MCU Blanchett’s character fill that role as the goddess of death. With Thor: Ragnarok being the last cosmic movie before Avengers: Infinity War is it possible that a connection could be established between the two villains, could Thanos’ motivations be related in some way to impressing or empowering Hela in Lady Death’s absence?
Thor: Ragnarok synopsis:
Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.
The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins.
Check out Blanchett’s Hela in Thor: Ragnarok this week internationally and from Nov 3rd stateside.