One of the interesting things about Thor: Ragnarok is just how much behind-the-scenes information we’re getting. The production has been very open about subplots that were cut and how they decided to implement various different twists. Screenwriter Eric Pearson recently spoke to Yahoo News about some plot points concerning the villain Hena (Cate Blanchett), but to get into it will require a spoiler warning. Proceed with caution.
Hela in the movie is not the character from the comics. Pearson worked on a few different ways the character would come into the movie and what kind of impact she would have.
“We had decided that she’s like this ghost of Asgard’s past that’s come back,” Pearson explained to Yahoo Entertainment. “She represents the kind of violent way that they won their kingdom that Odin’s been trying to cover up.”
That kind of “ghost”, though, seemed to lack some emotional punch, which is why Pearson decided that it would be better if she was Thor’s older sister and the rightful heir to the Asgardian throne.
“I was like, ‘We’re getting to this moment, and it just doesn’t have the impact,’” Pearson recalled telling Winderbaum. “I’m like, ‘With all this stuff, she should be Thor’s sister. And that should be the thing that [represents] what it is to rule Asgard, his family, what he’s been told, what he hasn’t been told.’”
Pearson liked the idea, but was hesitant to write it into the script. One of the people he told the idea to was Brad Winderbaum, VP of production and development at Marvel Studios, who told him to just write it into the script without asking.
“Brad told me, ‘Don’t tell anyone. Just write it into the script. If we pitch it, it’s so much more likely to get shot down. Just write it into the movie.’”
It was basically the screenwriting equivalent of “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission”, and it terrified Pearson.
“When they did that first read, I was like, ‘Oh, man, if they don’t like it, we’re screwed.’” Obviously, they liked it. “Brad showed me Kevin’s note, and [the reveal] was circled with ‘WHOA!’ [spelled out next to it],” Pearson recounted proudly.“I was just so happy that it played out, because we were taking a risk.”
Now that they had a setup for Hela, it was time to create her as a villain. There were a few extra scenes involving the character including a moment where she went up against the Destroyer armor from the first movie.
“I always want the villain to be really … not-Disney. I want to give them moments where they’re really massacring or crushing people,” he explained. “And she has that great entrance where she takes everybody out. [Originally it was extended,] and they were like, ‘This is a bit repetitive, and we don’t have the days to shoot it.’ There was [also] a scene where she thought they were hiding the sword in the armory, this big fortress. She goes up, and the destroyer armor comes out to take her out, and she just rips that thing apart too, just to call back the destroyer armor. And it just felt like an extra beat that we didn’t need. We needed to get Thor pushing back to Asgard as fast as possible.”
As soon as Pearson found out that Blanchett was cast, he knew you couldn’t have an actress like that as a villain and not give her a speech.
“When they told me Cate Blanchett [was cast], I was like, ‘Guys, don’t you want to see her give a speech? Don’t you want the best in the world to come in as cool as she is and just tell everyone what she’s going to do?’” he said. “And they’re like, ‘Yeah, you’re probably right.’ And so I got to write a speech for her. And then Taika of course comes in with the brilliant way to take the piss out of it at the end.”
Hela was easily one of the best villains Marvel has had yet, so we can hope she wasn’t killed from having the world around her explode.
Summary: Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.
Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi, stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, and Mark Ruffalo. Check it out in theaters now.