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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

The MCU Has Been Quietly Setting Up One of Thor's Deadliest Villains

Your Nerd Side Show with Fonseca

There has been no official announcement of a fifth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Thor series, but it seems an inevitability. Despite the mixed reception of Thor: Love and Thunder, both the character of Thor Odinson and actor Chris Hemsworthremain as popular as ever. Hemsworth is reportedly in discussion with Marvel regarding another outing as the God of Thunder, and his recent collaborator George Miller has expressed interest in directing Thor 5. Of the four heroes who kicked off the MCU, Thor is the only one who is not dead, retired, or wrapped up in legal issues with Universal Pictures. He has already appeared in more solo films than any other MCU hero and faced off against his most iconic foes from the comics, such as Loki, Hela, and Gorr. This raises the question of who would be the main villain of the next Thor film.

Love and Thunder teased Hercules as an antagonist, but in the comics, he usually does not play an outright villainous role. Though he is rough around the edges and has a rivalry with Thor, Hercules is a heroic figure who has fought alongside the likes of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy on numerous occasions. Thor 5 will likely introduce a more evil character for Thor to battle, and an ideal candidate would be an oft-forgotten member of his rogues' gallery: Ragnarok. Not to be confused with the cataclysmic event for which he was named, Ragnarok is a cyborg clone of Thor who debuted during the Civil War event. He possesses most of the same abilities as Thor and wields a non-magical hammer similar to Mjølnir, making him a dangerous opponent. Though the MCU's version of Civil War is long past, recent and upcoming MCU projects -- including Secret Invasion, Thunderbolts*, and Fantastic Four -- have set up all the necessary pieces for Ragnarok's story from the comics.

Like in the MCU, Thor was absent from the Civil War event in the comics, albeit for a different reason. Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and Reed Richards -- the latter of whom is set to debut in the upcoming Fantastic Four -- believed their Asgardian ally would turn the tide in their favor, so they set about duplicating his abilities. Using a strand of Thor's hair, they created a partially organic, partially cybernetic clone. They initially referred to him as Codename Lightning, but he later earned the more intimidating moniker of Ragnarok. The reason for Ragnarok's creation would need to be different in Thor 5, and Tony could not be personally involved. Perhaps Hank and Reed could create the MCU's Ragnarok so that Earth has a Thor while the real Thor is busy dealing with extraterrestrial threats.

In the comics, the Hank who helped create Ragnarok was a Skrull impostor named Criti Noll. She sabotaged Ragnarok, making him far more aggressive and violent than Tony or Reed had intended. She did this in hopes of making the Civil War event more devastating for both sides of the conflict, thus weakening Earth for a Skrull invasion. Skrulls have been a major part of recent projects like Secret Invasion and The Marvels, so Criti's involvement could easily tie into recent events of the MCU. She could be a remnant of Gravik's Skrull Resistance or a disillusioned refugee from Tarnax IV. The strand of Thor's hair used in the creation of Ragnarok could even come from the Harvest, the collection of superhuman DNA that Secret Invasion established.

Ragnarok Has Ties to the Thunderbolts

  • Ragnarok's hammer was made of adamantium and vibranium.

  • After Bill's death, his nephew, Thomas Foster, became the new Goliath.

  • Criti eventually grew sympathetic towards humans, so the Skrulls' queen had her killed and replaced with a clone.

In the comics, Ragnarok's first mission ended in tragedy. As he battled the Anti-Registration superheroes, Criti's programming caused him to go rogue and kill Bill Foster, much to the horror of both sides. Bill's live-action incarnation debuted in Ant-Man and the Wasp and assumed his Goliath persona in the second season of What If...?, so a similar event could occur in the MCU. Following this disaster, many of the Marvel Universe's strongest heroestried and failed to take down Ragnarok. In the end, it was none other than Hercules who managed to destroy him. Hercules' important role in Ragnarok's story would allow Thor 5 to seamlessly tie into the post-credit scene of Love and Thunder.

But death at the hands of Hercules was not the end of Ragnarok in the comics. Baron Werner Von Blitzschlag, a former evil scientist working for Hank, rebuilt him and gave him the name Ragnarok. He set out to duel Thor, hoping to prove himself superior to the Asgardian upon whom he had been based. Thor destroyed him, at which point A.I.M. found his body and rebuilt him once again. He eventually became a member of the Dark Avengers, and he later joined the Thunderbolts. The asterisk in the title of the upcoming Thunderbolts*film has led fans to speculate that it will lead into the MCU's version of the Dark Avengers storyline. If so, Ragnarok could return in a sequel to Thunderbolts* after his appearance in Thor 5.

Thor 5 Could Fix One of Love and Thunder's Biggest Problems

  • Ragnarok received his name in Avengers: The Initiative #21.

  • Before this, some fans referred to Ragnarok as Clor, a portmanteau of "Clone Thor."

  • Hercules used Ragnarok's own hammer to destroy him in their battle.

As part of the Thunderbolts, Ragnarok acknowledged that he was not the real Thor and began to undergo a redemption arc. In Dark Avengers #189, he grappled with his identity, or more accurately, his lack thereof: "I have memories still... but I know they aren't mine. A madman named me Ragnarok, but that was to strike fear into others. In truth, I don't know who I am, or what." He received a boost to his self-esteem when he found the Mjølnir of an alternate-reality Thor and learned that he was worthy of wielding it. When Ragnarok claimed the hammer, his appearance transformed to look less like Thor: he had a bald head, a mustache and goatee, and red and black armor. This would give the MCU the perfect opportunity to recast Ragnarok if Hemsworth decides to part ways with Marvel. Unfortunately, Ragnarok has not appeared in the comics for over a decade, but the MCU could breathe new life into the character.

Ragnarok's inclusion would help the tone of Thor 5. In a recent interview, Hemsworth stated that he blamed himself for Love and Thunder's uneven tone. He believed that he did not take the character of Thor seriously enough and got carried away with the comedic improvisation. But on the other hand, the levity of Thor: Ragnarok was one of the major reasons for its success over the previous Thor films. The introduction of an evil copy of Thor would allow for the best of both worlds in Thor 5; Hemsworth could portray a grim, serious version of the character while keeping the real Thor lighthearted. The MCU's early villains received criticism for having the same power sets as their opposing heroes, but Ragnarok's status as a true clone would set him apart. His battle with Thor would be more akin to Steve Rogers' fight with his past self in Avengers: Endgame, which became a fan-favorite moment.

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