I identify strongly with Hela, Cate Blanchett's Goddess of Death villain from Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel's third installment in the mythology of the Norse God of Thunder. Not because I'm a sucker for a good jumpsuit/smokey eye combo (I am), or because I would kill for that antler headdress (I would), or even because I'm ready for any woman to take over the Marvel Cinematic Universe (preach!).
At some point or another, we have all been Hela.
Peel back the whole "evil being trying to take over" thing, and you'll find a very relatable story: a woman whose unparalleled powers and ambition are celebrated when used in the service of male goals, and then reviled when they no longer suit them.
As Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) first-born, she, not Thor, should have been the rightful heir to the throne of Asgard. But as we learn in the film, she was passed over once her ambition for conquest outstretched Odin's own thirst for power. Fearing her strength, Odin banished her to another dimension, where she dwelled until his death trumpeted her triumphant return to her birthright.
Once Odin decides that he wants to be a benevolent ruler, which requires glossing over his blood-thirsty past, his daughter becomes a liability. Her own independent ambitions are seen as dangerous, her passion as a thing to be suppressed and squashed. Sure, she is the Goddess of Death and has vowed to rule all bazillion dimensions no matter what the cost, but that was all well and good when Odin was in charge, right?
Think back to the first installment of the Thor franchise, when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was the designated antagonist. The trickster god — and Thor's half-brother — quickly became a fan favorite for his charming wit and stylish antics. Men's ambitions are seen as worthy of respect, even when they don't align with our own ideals. But when women want to to take over the universe — watch out.
That being said, Thor: Ragnarok is the first Marvel film to feature not one, but two strong female characters in meaty, complex roles. Fighting alongside Thor to defeat Hela is Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, who's already made headlines for being the MCU's first openly bisexual superhero. It's exciting to finally be able to root for women on both sides of the fight, and I, for one, am ready for a Valkyrie/Hela spinoff where those two bury the hatchet and decide to rule the universe together. Let Thor and Hulk smash all they want. If it really comes down to it, I'm siding with the ladies.
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