Somewhat surprisingly, considering how close we are to Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok is a mostly standalone entry into the MCU. With Taika Waititi’s uniquely comic tone, many of the elements from previous Thor movies are chucked out and there’s not a hunt for an Infinity Stone like in several other Marvel films.
However, Ragnarok is just as much a part of the ongoing narrative of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as any other movie is and there are still hints and teases at future developments weaved into it. Some of these are clear little nods to be picked up when the aforementioned event pic arrives next May, while others possibly sow the seeds for a potential fourth Thor film.
From new characters who may be more important down the line to moving familiar faces to different places on the board, here are 8 major ways in which Thor: Ragnarok sets up future movies in the MCU. As always, if there’s something we missed, be sure to let us know by dropping it in the comments section below.
Also, it should go without saying, but spoilers will follow…
The Return Of Korg And Miek
Thor: Ragnarok has some amazing characters, but two of the most surprising breakout personalities are rock-man Korg and his insectoid pal, Miek. Based on characters from the Planet Hulk comic book, Taika Waititi reimagined them as (part of) the film’s comic relief, giving himself the role of the unexpectedly chirpy, optimistic gladiator and revolutionary.
At the end of the movie, both Korg and Miek are on the Asgardian refugee ship, hinting that they’re going to stick around the MCU. Thankfully, this has been confirmed by Marvel chief Kevin Feige, who’s teased that there’s a plan in place for the pair.
“We have plans for Korg and Miek. When and where we’ll have to wait and see, but we, like the audience now that they’ve seen them, can’t get enough.”
Feige’s comments are interesting, as they suggest that the duo won’t simply return in Thor 4 but could crossover to a different sub-franchise. The most obvious option is that they could pop up in either Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers 4 and help defeat Thanos. After that, it might be fun to see them in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Korg and Miek would fit right in with Star-Lord’s gang of misfit heroes, don’t you think?
The End Of Hela?
After nearly ten years, the MCU finally gave us its first female villain in Thor: Ragnarok with Cate Blanchett’s Hela – and, while we could have done with many more supervillanesses in this time, she was certainly worth the wait. Not only was she a force to be reckoned with, as Thor’s evil older sister, but she was also played with scenery-chewing evil. Fingers crossed, then, that we haven’t seen the last of her.
At the end of Ragnarok, Thor elects to unleash Surtur on Asgard, thereby bringing about the titular apocalypse and destroying his homeworld – and, he hopes, Hela with it. But did it work as he planned? Being the Goddess of Death must make you pretty indestructible, even if you’re trapped on a planet that’s totally destroyed. As such, we have a sneaky suspicion she made it out.
After all, a common fan theory states that Hela will have a major role in Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel. You see, in the comics, Thanos’ motivation in taking over the universe is that he’s trying to impress Lady Death, who he’s besotted with. As introducing a personification of death might be a bit out-there even for the MCU, fans think that Thanos might fall for the Goddess of Death instead. It seems plausible to us, and Hela’s open-ended fate definitely leaves room for her to return.
No More Bruce Banner?
When the God of Thunder bumps into the Jade Giant in Thor: Ragnarok, it’s been two years since he last turned back into Bruce Banner. With the calming influence of Black Widow not around, Hulk’s been in total control and has even (slightly) developed in intelligence. Though Banner is later able to sit in the driver’s seat again, he senses that the balance of power between him and Hulk has shifted and worries that the next time he changes could mean that he’ll never be himself again.
Bravely, though, Banner decides to let his inner big green rage monster out when Thor and his pals need Hulk’s help in facing Hela and her undead army. By the end of the movie, our heroes have saved the people of Asgard and stopped the villainess and we last see Hulk on board the refugee ship – but no reference is made to the issue of whether Banner is gone for good.
So, have we seen the last of Bruce Banner? When it comes to the character’s next appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, Hulk will be the useful one when it comes to fighting against the awesome might of Thanos, not puny Banner. Still, we highly doubt that Mark Ruffalo won’t get to show up as Banner again. What are the odds that another look at Scarlet Johansson’s face does the job?
More Than The God Of Mischief
While Thor and Hulk also grow over the movie, the character who undergoes the biggest change in Thor: Ragnarok is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. The God of Thunder’s trickster brother has never previously been one to fight the good fight without something in it for him, but this time he actually seems to be pretty trustworthy.
Whether it’s the fact that his father has just died or that his own homeworld, his beloved Asgard, is threatened, the threat of Hela seems to bring out Loki’s heroic side. Thor says to him at one point: “You will always be the God of Mischief, but you could be so much more.” Has Loki really taken this to heart and changed his spots?
By the end of the film, it appears so, as Loki elects to return to the refugee ship rather than run off for his own safety, apparently happy to leave the ruling of Asgard to Thor but support him at his side. However, it’s worth noting that Loki’s appearance on the ship coincides with the unwanted arrival of a massive vessel in the mid-credits stinger.
So, was Loki just playing his brother as always throughout Ragnarok as part of a ploy in conjunction with Thanos? Or is the ship’s arrival just a coincidence and Loki will stand alongside his former enemies, the Avengers, in Infinity War and its sequel? Something tells us we’ll get a little of both.
The New King Of Asgard
Once Thor and Loki track Odin down to the fields of Norway, they’re able to learn the truth about their evil sister Hela just before Odin dies. In his absence, Hela takes her father’s place as ruler of Asgard, with her sights set on taking over the rest of the universe. By the end of the movie, of course, she’s defeated, and can you guess who takes over the throne?
Yes, it’s Thor – and he immediately gets a makeover to ensure he looks more like his old pops. During his battle with Hela, the Thunder God loses an eye (something cleverly edited out from certain shots in the trailers). The last time we see him, he’s wearing an eyepatch and looking very Odin-like as he becomes king.
As much as Ragnarok gleefully chucks out a lot of the continuity with the first two films, this feels like a natural completion of Thor’s arc that began back in 2011’s outing. He started off as a war-hungry prince who couldn’t wait to be king and now he’s a much wiser warrior who must take the throne with a heavy heart.
On a purely superficial level, though, is Thor always going to be without his eye? From what we’ve seen of Avengers: Infinity War, that doesn’t seem to be the case. He is a god, after all, so his eye could grow back. But then why didn’t that work for Odin?
Asgardians On Earth
The first thing Thor does as the new king of Asgard is decree that he’s going to take his people to Earth, suggesting that they’re going to be making a new home on what’s already Thor’s second favourite planet. But how is this going to work and when will it be explored in a future movie?
First of all, this is drawn from a story arc in the comics. After Loki brought about Ragnarok (which he kind of does here, too), Thor decides that Asgard is a people not a planet and builds his subjects a new home in the most modest environment of Broxton, Oklahoma. On the page, this arc led into the Siege storyline – featuring Norman Osborn and his supervillain Cabal attacking the new Asgard.
Taika Waititi is already talking about how he’s game for directing Thor 4, so if that’s officially given the greenlight – and it no doubt will as long as Chris Hemsworth is still in – then we can expect the “Asgardians on Earth” arc to be explored in that movie, which will probably arrive in the first couple of years of Phase Four.
Loki Has The Tesseract
There was an interesting rumour prior to Thor: Ragnarok‘s release that stated Odin would be revealed to be hiding the last Infinity Stone left unaccounted for – the Soul Stone – inside his eye socket behind his eyepatch. This grisly fan theory turned out to be nothing in the film itself, but Ragnarok does bring a previously-seen Infinity Stone back into play.
When following Thor’s orders to put Sutur’s crown into the eternal flame and bring about Ragnarok, Loki comes across the Tesseract – which viewers of The Avengers will remember was taken back to Asgard for safe keeping after the God of Mischief attempted to steal it for Thanos. We don’t see Loki pinch the cosmic cube, but the look of greed in his eyes as he spots it is telling enough.
Tying into what we said earlier, the big question now is: is Loki still working for Thanos, or did he take the Infinity Stone for his own purposes? Is he planning to use it to oust his brother from the seat of power again? All we know is that it’s back in circulation, which can only mean bad things for the universe…
On the Soul Stone front, though, Ragnarok offered no clues to where that is. It’s possible that we’ll get a hint to it in Black Panther though, the last MCU movie before Avengers: Infinity War finally arrives.
Thanos Is Coming
The mid-credits scene of Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t slap you in the face with a set-up for Avengers: Infinity War, but it is a doom-laden tease of what’s to come. As Thor and Loki chat about the dangers on the horizon, a humongous space vessel appears, completely dwarfing the already sizeable Asgardian refugee ship. We haven’t seen this ship before, but you don’t need Heimdall’s sight to know that it must belong to Thanos.
Though we’re not sure what happens next, we can probably work it out. Thanks to the leaked Infinity War trailer from SDCC, we know that Thor will end up floating through space, eventually winding up on the windscreen of the Milano, where he meets the Guardians of the Galaxy. So, presumably, Thanos attacks the Asgardian ship and casts out the God of Thunder.
Does this mean that Loki called his old boss so he could take the Tesseract? It’s possible, but it might not be his fault. Perhaps Thanos has a way of tracking the Infinity Stones. Once the Tesseract was removed from the security of Odin’s vaults, he was able to detect it and went after it. With that finally in his possession, he will likely next travel to Xandar for the Power Stone, Knowhere for the Reality Stone and finally, to Earth for the rest.
Thor: Ragnarok is now playing in theaters worldwide.