Thor: Ragnarok finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on the planet Sakaar, where Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), one of the Elders of the Universe, pits the God of Thunder against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiatorial match called the “Contest of Champions.”
While Marvel’s Contest of Champions may be best known as a mobile fighting game featuring Marvel Comics character these days, it was originally a three-issue miniseries published by Marvel in 1982. That series saw Grandmaster and a mysterious rival called the “Unknown” forcing two competing teams of Marvel Comics heroes and villains to participate in a contest to collect four pieces of an artifact called the “Golden Globe of Life.”
Based on the first clip from Thor: Ragnarok, the Contest of Champions that takes place between Thor and Hulk in the movie seems to be part of a game between Grandmaster and Thor’s mischievous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). However, it is the true identity of the Unknown from the comic book version of the story that may connect Thor: Ragnarok to Avengers: Infinity War and the future of the MCU.
In the comic, it is eventually revealed that Grandmaster is competing in the Contest of Champions with the life of his fellow Elder the Collector (played by Benicio del Toro in the post-credits scene to Thor: The Dark World and in Guardians of the Galaxy), who had been killed by the cosmic being Korvac, as the prize. The Unknown is revealed to be the one being in the Marvel Universe who could restore the fallen Elder to life, and that’s Death.
Death is significant to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because she is the object of Thanos’ obsession. The entire "Infinity Gauntlet" event that is part of the inspiration for Avengers: Infinity War was predicated on Thanos attempting to impress Mistress Death by using the power of the Infinity Gems to eliminate half of the living beings in the universe from existence.
As mentioned, the Contest of Champions between Hulk and Thor seems to be part of Grandmaster’s competition with Loki, but perhaps this matchup isn’t the only contest that Grandmaster is involved in.
Perhaps he also has a game going with Death, which may eventually reveal a connection to Thanos and the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
There’s also an interesting wrinkle in that the recent Marvel Comics miniseries The Unworthy Thor revealed that Thanos has entered a romantic relationship with the Asgardian goddess of death, Hela, who is played by Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok.
The Goddess of Death and The Mad Titan
With that in mind, perhaps Hela could take the place of Death as the “Unknown” in Thor: Ragnarok, revealing that the Grandmaster and Hela had a game going on behind the scenes the entire time, and perhaps also revealing Hela’s connection to Thanos. That’s all speculation for now, but it would make one Hel of a post-credits scene.
Thor: Ragnarok currently has a 4.17 out of 5 ComicBook.com User Anticipation Rating, making it the second most anticipated upcoming comic book movie among ComicBook.com Users.
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Thor: Ragnarok opens in theaters on November 2, 2017.
Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Black Panther on February 16, 2018, Avengers: Infinity War on May 4, 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.