We got more information on the the third installment of the Thor franchise last week. Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett were confirmed as Hela and Valkyrie, respectively. And Karl Urban and Jeff Goldblum were added to the cast as Skurge and the Grandmaster. They join the already confirmed Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Idris Elba as Baldur, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Chris Hemsworth as the titular Thor.
That’s a lot of new information, but these characters are likely unfamiliar to the public unless you read Thor comics. So we’ve prepared a quick guide for each character to catch you up to speed. If you can’t follow all the crazy subplots — don’t worry. The backgrounds will undoubtedly be simplified for the movie.
Valkyrie is the title given to the Asgardian Brunhilde. She was a woman chosen by Odin to lead the Valkyrior, warrior maidens who brought the souls of the recently deceased to the afterlife in Valhalla. She wields a magic sword and is one of the fiercest combatants in Asgard — on par with Sif and bested only by Thor himself.
At times, Valkyrie has been a love interest for Thor, although she has not been used in that capacity for decades. Although Valkyrie herself is immortal, her soul was removed from her body and placed into the human host of a wealthy socialite Samantha Parrington. In this form, Valkyrie joined the Defenders and fought strange menaces alongside Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Hellcat and others.
The current version of Valkyrie has reunited the mind and body of Brunhilde. She rides a winged horse named Aragorn and has been tasked with assembling a new group of Valkyrior — using women from Earth this time.
Valkyrie will be played by Tessa Thompson in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.
Hela is the Marvel Universe version of the Norse goddess Hel. Hela was appointed as the goddess of death by Odin, and rules Niffleheim and Hel, the realms of the dead. She is a frequent foe of Thor and Odin as she seeks to expand her realm into the lands of the living.
Matching the Norse myths, Hela is both a daughter of and a past love interest of various incarnations of Loki. As the goddess of death she wields immense mystical power, and she fully controls the fate of any who die in Asgard or worshiping the Asgardian pantheon.
Hela will be the first major female villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — a fact made more significant by the recent revelations that the female villain was excised from Iron Man 3 over fears of lost toy sales.
Hela will be played by Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok.
Skurge is an Asgardian warrior who wields a double-bladed magic axe. He made a name for himself fighting storm giants to protect Asgard, taking the nickname “The Executioner.” In the comics, Skurge was deeply in love with Amora, the villain known as the Enchantress. She frequently used him as a pawn in her schemes, although she never truly loved him.
Originally portrayed as a simple supervillain, Skurge also often found himself allied with Loki and other villains. He has attempted to take over Earth, led an army of trolls against Asgard, among other crimes.
Although generally portrayed as a villain, Skurge died a hero, sacrificing himself in an attack on Hela’s forces, as he attempted to stave off Ragnarok, the Asgardian end of the world. Skurge was consigned to Hel, until Thor drank a toast to his memory, which made Hela realize that he belonged in the halls of Valhalla.
He was taken from Valhalla by the Grandmaster, who forced him to join his Legion of the Unliving and attack Asgard. Freed from the Grandmaster’s control, he fought Hela’s forces in Hel and once again earned the right for his soul to enter Valhalla — making Amora realize she truly loved him in the process.
Skurge will be played by Karl Urban in Thor: Ragnarok.
The Grandmaster is one of the ageless and immortal “Elders of the Universe,” along with his brother The Collector — portrayed by Benicio del Toro in Guardians of the Galaxy. The Grandmaster is obsessed with and has mastered all forms of games of chance. He was a former wielder of the Mind Gem, one of the Infinity Stones coveted by Thanos. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that gem originally powered Loki’s scepter and is currently a part of the Vision.
The Grandmaster is a being of almost unfathomable power. He has frequently engaged in games of chance — using Earth’s Heroes as pawns — with other cosmic beings including his brother and even the cosmic incarnation of Death. The heroes are generally forced to fight villains or each other for the entertainment of the Grandmaster and his foe. The heroes have defeated him by winning his games — occasionally cheating to get the desired outcome.
After besting Death, The Grandmaster and his brothers were banished from her realm, making them effectively immortal. They attempted to destroy Galactus and with him the entire universe, reasoning that since they cannot die, they would live to control and manipulate the next universe. They were defeated by Galactus and the Silver Surfer.
Based on Benicio del Toro’s portrayal of The Collector, the Elders of the Universe are significantly less powerful in the MCU, but still formidable opponents.
The Grandmaster will be played by Jeff Goldblum in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.