There are a lot of reasons to be excited about Thor: Ragnarok. Based on the trailers, we can swoon over Thor’s new haircut, a somehow more-handsome-than-before Hulk, and the sweet swagger of our old pal Loki. That’s all fine and dandy, but in my opinion, the most exciting detail about the third Thor movie is the inclusion of Cate Blanchett.
This Oscar-winning actress is a jack of all trades: she’s shined in dramas like Carol and Blue Jasmine and fantasies like Lord of the Rings. But when it comes to her role as an evil character, there’s an added level of delight. The iconic actress joins the fold as Hela, the eldest daughter of Odin and sister of Thor and Loki. Oh, and she’s also the goddess of death.
What is it about an evil Cate Blanchett that really sucks me in? First of all, the cheekbones. Secondly, maybe it’s because her greatest villains have always appeared in very heightened projects. She easily stole the show as Cinderella’s wicked stepmother in 2015’s lavish live-action iteration of the story. I still, to this day, make fun of her Russian accent in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But, I mean, there’s something to be said about the fact that I’m still talking about it, right? And now, she’s taking the spotlight from Thor, the God of Thunder himself.
There is one aspect of Ragnarok that I can’t sugarcoat, however. A lot of the dialogue — specifically the lines uttered by goth diva Hela — is pretty clunky. There’s just something about the phrasing and cadence that seems clumsy and wordy and hard to spit out. This, I think, is why Blanchett turns the volume all the way up. If I were to attribute three words to her performance, it would be “extra, extra, extra.” But somehow, by some magical combination of all the aforementioned ingredients, it works. Her melodramatic depiction of a villainess who knows she’s ridiculous and leans into it just makes the whole thing that much more enchanting.
To compound Blanchett’s electrifying performance, the visuals created for the goddess are truly stunning and jaw-dropping. With a quick pass of her hands along her somehow always wet and very piecey hair, she grows an astonishing head of horns that I’m sure will pop up on a drag queen’s head sometime in the next year. She has a fantastic cape that’s billowy but not too billowy. Even Blanchett’s sauntering gait, where her hips sway almost comically in both directions with each passing step, is nothing short of hypnotizing. All of these different aspects, amped up to 100 percent, help paint Hela as the caricatured-yet-flawless villainess she is.
The result is a one-time big bad who may very well never come back. And even with so little to work with, Blanchett manages to steal nearly every scene she’s in. The way she commits to this crazy, ridiculous, over-the-top goddess makes you crave more and more of her, so much so that you’re halfway between rooting for her and hoping she somehow has a change of heart and comes to the good side. But even if we never see her again, we’ll always have all the wicked fierceness we bear witness to in Thor: Ragnarok.