Marvel Studios has announced new cast members for Thor: Ragnarok, with Cate Blanchett playing the villain Hela, a daughter of Loki and ruler of the realms of the dead, and Jeff Goldblum costarring as the game-playing elder known as the Grandmaster.
Tessa Thompson (Creed, Selma) will play Valkyrie, the Asgardian warrior-goddess, and Karl Urban (Bones from the Star Trek reboots) will portray Skurge, the executioner and servant of Hela who wields a double-bladed axe.
The studio also announced what was already widely confirmed: Mark Ruffalo will be joining Chris Hemsworth in his third Thor film as Bruce Banner and The Hulk.
“The sheer, raw talent each of these actors brings to the screen can’t be quantified,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in a statement. “Having any one of them join the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be an honor, and having all of them is incredible.”
Thor: Ragnarok is being directed by Taika Waititi (who starred in and directed the vampire spoof What We Do In the Shadows) and it’s set for release Nov. 3, 2017. Along with Hemsworth, returning cast members will include Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s duplicitous brother Loki, Idris Elba as the gatekeeper Heimdall, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Thor’s father and ruler of Asgard.
Missing from the list is Natalie Portman as the mortal scientist Jane Foster. Feige recently said there are “many reasons” for her absence, one of which is that most of Ragnarok will take place in the celestial regions of the Marvel Universe. (It’s easy to assume here are other reasons too, and that the character could have been brought to Asgard again, as she was in Thor: The Dark World.)
Another notable name missing from the cast: Jamie Alexander as Lady Sif, who would be perfectly at home in the more mystical corners of the story. But unless she is added later, or is a surprise, it looks like two of Thor’s previous female leads will be gone this time.
Shortly after the announcement, however, Alexander sent out a tweet to a concerned fan that suggested she would be participating in the movie.
As for the new characters, we have this piece of concept art from Marvel which shows Blanchett’s Hela will wear a similarly ostentatious, antler-like headdress as the character in the comics.
There’s a bit of an optical illusion with this shadowy image. Is Hela facing down the collected warriors of Asgard … or is she leading them?
While Hela is Loki’s daughter (those ageless, immortal beings grow up so fast!), Goldblum’s Grandmaster also comes with a family connection to a previous Marvel figure, albeit from a different franchise. The Grandmaster is a kind of sibling to another elder of the universe, The Collector, played in Guardians of the Galaxy by Benicio Del Toro. The Collector has spent his immortality amassing rare and powerful objects and creatures, and The Grandmaster has whiled away his infinite time studying the various games and contests of the known worlds — becoming an expert competitor and gambler whose favorite pastime is playing for life or death.
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