Comic Book Inspiration for Thor: Ragnarok

How many comic book references did you catch in Thor: Ragnarok?

Screenwriter Eric Pearson said he took inspiration for the film from two storylines in particular – the 2012 “Thor: God of Thunder” and the 2006-07 inspired “Planet Hulk.”  But there were many more homages to classic stories from Thor’s past in the film as well as other Marvel tales.

WARNING: If you haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok there be spoilers ahead!

Another difference? The Grandmaster in the comics is blue. But the outfit is pretty close.

Probably the easiest to spot would be Contest of Champions since Jeff Goldblum’s character, the Grandmaster called it that right at the beginning.  Contest of Champions was the first Marvel mini series ever and featured a cacophony of different heroes all battling for either the Grandmaster or a hooded figure (who was actually the personification of Death).  Even though it was Marvel’s first limited series it had a familiar theme – heroes battling heroes to find out who was superior.  And although they are both on the cover, I don’t think Thor and Hulk actually battled.

Hulk in the “Planet Hulk” storyline
Hulk in the film from Thor: Ragnarok

The contest in the film is very different than what was written in the mini-series.  It more closely resembles the “Planet Hulk” storyline written by Hulk scribe Greg Pak.  In it, Hulk ends up on the planet Sakaar where he ends up battling as a gladiator for his life and the life of his crew.  At the same time, he kind of likes it.  For the first time, Hulk is respected and not seen as a threat.  Much like Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok.  Many elements of the film are patterned after this storyline – the name of the planet (Sakaar), the inhibitors they wear to control the gladiators, Korg and Miek, Hulk’s look, and Hulk even battles another Marvel superhero.  It just happens to be Silver Surfer instead of Thor.  But there is a Thor connection in the story through Korg who encountered the Thunder God previously in the comics but who only meets Thor in the arena in the film.

There are a ton of other Thor references from the comics.  Thor unleashing Surtur to bring about the destruction of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok was also done in the “Thor: Disassembled” storyline. There’s a part in the film where Thor is talking about all the ways Loki has deceived him in the past and he makes mention of being turned into a frog.  That actually happened during Walt Simonson’s run on the book. Of course Valkyrie has long been a character associated with Asgard.  Her character has a completely different look in the movie, but I’m really grateful for that since the essence of what makes her so worthy is still there.  And Tessa Thompson does a great job of portraying her.

Walt Simonson wrote one of the most touching endings for a character ever and the film honors that storyline

But my favorite Thor reference is the death of Skurge!  For me, it was one of the highlight’s of Simonson’s run on the book and they had him go out in the same way in the film – sacrificing himself to save others.  The writing for Skurge’s finale was just perfect and coupled with the artwork made a deep impression on me.  All of these years later, and it is still one of the most memorable parts of Simonson’s legendary time on the book.  As Skurge held back the hordes of Hel, it says, “They sing no songs in Hel, nor do they celebrate heroes for silent is that dismal realm and cheerless, but the story of the Gjallerbru and the god who defended it is whispered across the Nine Worlds.  And when a new arrival asks about the one to whom even Hela bows her head, the answer is always the same. He stood alone at Gjallerbru, and that answer is enough.”

What other comic references did you notice in the film?

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