Source: Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios has officially announced the cast for Thor: Ragnarok and it’s an amazing array of talent. Chris Hemsworth will reprise the title role and be rejoined by Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Idris Elba as Heimdall. As previously announced, Mark Ruffalo will be joining the cast as Bruce Banner/Hulk.

Hela — Source: Marvel Comics

That’s already a great list, but it gets even better with some spectacular new additions. Two-time Oscar®-winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)will play the lead villain, Hela. As the ruler of Hel, the realm of the dead, Hela has a long and storied history with the Asgardians in the comics where she is also the daughter of Loki (or one incarnation of him.) We will have to wait and see if that familial connection will exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Hela was a major figure in the legendary Walt Simonson run in The Mighty Thor comics. She started stealing souls of the living and when Thor came into Hel and stopped her, Hela swore vengeance and started systematically breaking down The God of Thunder. Her villainous plot will likely be something different in the film, but her presence could have implications on more films than Ragnarok.

As the ruler of the dead, Hela could have a large role to play in Avengers: Infinity War. In the mid-credits stinger in The Avengers, The Other tells Thanos that to challenge humans it to “court death.” This was a nod to the comics in which Thanos is in love with the living embodiment of death and wields the Infinity Gauntlet to impress her. There’s no need to have two lady deaths in the MCU, so if Thanos’ twisted courtship of death is in play, he’ll probably be after Hela.

Blanchett will be joined by fellow Marvel newcomers Tessa Thompson (Creed), Karl Urban (Star Trek), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park.)

Thompson will play the hero Valkyrie. Her role in the film might change, but in Marvel Comics, she’s led the Valkyrior, a group charged by Odin with selecting the fallen warriors who will move on to Valhalla. With Hela also looking to take souls back down to Hel, you can see where the new hero and new villain might come into conflict. Perhaps Hela will be stealing souls Valkyrie had granted passage to Valhalla. With Natatlie Portman’s Jane Foster not returning, there has also been speculation of a possible romance between Valkyrie and Thor.

Skurge — Source: Marvel Comics

When rumors first surfaced of Karl Urban being involved in Thor: Ragnarok, the name Balder the Brave came to mind. I am a little surprised to hear that he is playing Skurge, but that role has the chance to be just as interesting, especially if Marvel is borrowing story points from the aforementioned Walt Simonson run. Skurge the Executioner, a former enemy of Asgard finds his redemption alongside Thor and the Asgardian army venturing into Hel to stop Hela. His sacrifice play comes off great in the comics and could inspire a powerful scene in the film.

Grandmaster — Source: Marvel Comics

I’m not sure anyone saw Jeff Goldblum ending up in a Marvel movie, but what a pleasant surprise this is. Goldblum is playing the Grandmaster, one of the Elders of the Universe. You already met one Elder in Benicio del Toro’s The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy. Like his fellow Elder, The Collector, Grandmaster is eccentric and I’d imagine Thor will encounter him while investigating the frequent emergence of Infinity Stones that The God of Thunder discovered in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Why would that investigation lead Thor to the Grandmaster? It could be any number of reasons, including many possibilities that would be unique to the MCU, but the comics could offer some inspiration. In the source material, the Grandmaster was at one point in possession of the Mind Stone. He eventually lost it to Thanos and that’s where we can connect dots in the MCU.

We know that Thanos was in possession of the Mind Stone because it was in the scepter that he gave to Loki. The Mind Stone is now firmly implanted on the forehead of Vision (Paul Bettany.) We also know that the Asgardians have been keeping some track of where the Infinity Stones are based on the mid-credits stinger in Thor: The Dark World. Perhaps the Asgardians have been under the assumption that the Grandmaster had the Mind Stone and Thor will go find out how it ended up in Loki’s hands.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is obviously thrilled about this cast and spoke about the new additions in the official announcement:

The continuation of the epic Thor franchise will be powerful and unique, and with the additions of Cate, Jeff, Tessa, Karl, and Mark to the cast we have the makings of his most dangerous and heroic adventure yet. The sheer, raw talent each of these actors brings to the screen can’t be quantified. Having any one of them join the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be an honor, and having all of them is incredible.

Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already off to a fantastic start with Captain America: Civil War. The trailer for Doctor Strange looks great and Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther are coming along nicely. A cast like the one announced today for Thor: Ragnarok adds another level of excitement for what ought to be a great few years of Marvel movies.

Thor: Ragnarok is being directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) for a November 3, 2017 release.