Like a great chef, the Marvel Cinematic Universe knows how to cherry-pick the best parts of its expansive menu and combine them to create a singular treat. With decades of stories to choose from, Marvel is able to draw inspiration from countless storylines, characters, and events for its films.
Thor: Ragnarok is not based on any one comic book. Following in the footsteps of the rest of the MCU, Ragnarok pulls its inspiration from several different sources. Here’s a breakdown of the Marvel comics Thor: Ragnarok is most prominently based on…
The destruction of Asgard references ‘Ragnarok’
For those not in the know, Ragnarok is the final battle of the gods in Norse mythology. Since Thor and his fellow Asgardian gods are directly based on their Norse counterparts, the concept of Ragnarok has also been carried over into the comics. The destruction of Asgard in the trailer has many parallels within the comics.
In 2004, a six-part storyline saw Ragnarok destroy Asgard. In Marvel’s mythology, Ragnarok is a cyclical event, and after the battle, all those who fall are eventually reincarnated. So, for the Asgardians, it’s probably a little like getting massively drunk and having an epic hangover for the next thousand years or so.
During Ragnarok, Thor gained the power of the Odin Force and broke the cycle. He would eventually recreate Asgard on Earth, above Broxton, Oklahoma. That Asgard did not last for long, as it was destroyed by Norman Osborn and his forces during the events of the comic Siege. Old Norman did not like the idea of a powerful race of extra-dimensional beings living within the borders of the United States. Instead of talking with them, he straight up set out to eliminate them.
Currently, there are two versions of Asgard in the Marvel Universe. The first is a recreated version of Asgard built by Odin in its original realm during the events of Fear Itself. After the climax of the series, Odin banished all Asgardians from the city and went into a self-imposed exile in the abandoned city. The second is named Asgardia. Currently orbiting near Saturn, it was designed by Tony Stark and is ruled by the All-Mother. It is the home of the remaining Asgardians.
Thor’s suave new look is straight out of ‘Unworthy Thor’
At the moment in the comics, Thor is not Thor. He became unworthy of wielding Mjolnir after learning a secret from Nick Fury, who was, at the time, imbued with the powers of a Watcher. This led to him calling himself simply “Odinson” and for a new Thor – Jane Foster – to take up the hammer.
Seeking to find his worthiness again, Odinson sets out into the cosmos rocking a new short haircut and beard with threads similar to those seen in Thor: Ragnarok. Hearing rumors of another Mjolnir from a dead universe (the old Ultimate Marvel universe), Odinson goes looking for it to reclaim his power. Unworthy Thor is clearly the inspiration for a lot of what we see in the Thor: Ragnarok trailer.
Putting aside Thor’s new comic look being translated to the screen, there are a number of other similarities. The series opens with his capture at the hands of a large number of aliens, and he ends up a prisoner of one of the Elders of the Universe. In the case of the comics, it is the Collector, but since he is playing around in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Thor: Ragnarok changes the Elder to be the Grandmaster.
As if these were not enough, the end of the series reveals that Hela is part of the events and is in league with Thanos! Could the references to Unworthy Thor heavily hint at Hela’s importance to Thanos in the upcoming Infinity War?
Hulk channeling Russell Crowe is from ‘Planet Hulk’
The best reveal of the trailer is not Thor’s new haircut. Or Hela’s weirdly beautiful headpiece. It’s the arrival of the Incredible Hulk and Thor’s pure look of joy when he realizes who it is. Decked out in some wicked-looking gladiatorial armor, Hulk looks like he stepped off the set of Spartacus. How movie Hulk ended up in space after the events of Age of Ultron is currently a mystery. The comics, however, dedicated a series to Hulk’s adventures in space — Planet Hulk.
Long story short: several of Earth’s most intelligent superhumans formed a group called the Illuminati (great name choice there, guys — not shady at all). Their combined intelligence told them that the Hulk was an unstoppable threat that could endanger the Earth. Since killing him was off the table, they elected to exile him. Into space!
Hulk’s shuttle was meant to land him on a peaceful planet. But like all good sci-fi plots, a wormhole appeared and he ended up on the planet Sakaar. Fitted with an obedience disc, he was forced to fight in gladiatorial matches for the planet’s ruler, the Red King. Eventually, he leads a rebellion against the Red King and becomes ruler of the planet.
While events from Planet Hulk probably won’t feature heavily in Thor: Ragnarok, some of the basic elements survive. Hulk still fights for the pleasure of his captor, in this case, the Grandmaster. Two of the film’s minor characters are the warrior Korg and Miek. Both characters fought alongside Hulk in Planet Hulk as his Warbound.
Skurge’s trailer moment is cribbed from ‘Like a Bat out of Hell’
One of the most memorable shots from the trailer is that of MCU newcomer Skurge, played by Karl Urban, wielding twin M-16s. If it rings a bell for longtime comic fans, that’s because it evokes the character’s most iconic moment – his last stand on the bridge at Gjallerbru. This quick glimpse possibly foreshadows a lot about his role and fate in the film.
In the comics, Skurge is one of Thor’s recurring villains. Seduced by Amora the Enchantress, Skurge was in her thrall. While he loved and worshipped her, she did not feel that same for him. The Enchantress used Skurge to carry out her will. Eventually, Skurge realizes that everyone is laughing at him, including the woman he loves, and it hurts him deeply. Skurge volunteers to join Thor, Balder, and the Einherjar on a mission into Hel to retrieve the souls of humans taken by Hela.
After rescuing the human souls, the Asgardians try to escape being chased by an army of the dead. Eventually, they reach the bridge of Gjallerbru. Thor intends to sacrifice himself to hold off the enemy while the rest of them escape. Skurge has other ideas, knocking him out and taking his place. As the rest escape, Skurge holds the bridge at Gjallerbru alone using twin M-16s (a gift from the U.S. military). The heroic act costs him his life but earns him a place in Valhalla.
With Skurge in play in Thor: Ragnarok, could we see an MCU-style recreation of his famous last stand?
We’ll get to see all of this when Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters on November 3.