Characters in Thor: Ragnarok with more meaning than you realized

If there's one thing movie fans know by now, it's that Marvel isn't just telling a story in their films, they're creating a whole universe—so if a character make even the smallest cameo in a movie, chances are there's a lot more to it than we're seeing onscreen. Sometimes it's just a nod to fans of the comics, but other times, Marvel's setting up future stories and even entirely new franchises, and Thor: Ragnarok is no exception. Here's a look at some characters from Thor: Ragnarok with more meaning than you realized. 

Valkyrie

Movie fans around the world were thrilled when they learned that the Hulk would be teaming up with Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. But comic book fans were even more excited to see the Hulk team up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe's newest superheroine, the Valkyrie. That's because Hulk and Valkyrie were friends and teammates for years in the pages of the classic Marvel series The Defenders, which also featured Doctor Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer. While the Defenders name has been poached by Marvel's TV division, seeing Valkyrie, Hulk, and Doctor Strange in the same movie keeps the dream of a big-screen Defenders reunion alive, and further opens the door for the eventual appearance of Namor in the MCU. 

Grandmaster

Known across the galaxies as the Grandmaster, En Dwi Gast is more than just a guy who loves games and bloodsport. He's also one of the Elders of the Universe, which in the Marvel Comics are a group of immortal beings of immense power who predate all known civilizations. The Elders of the Universe serve a key plot purpose for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as they're traditionally the guardians of the Infinity Stones. Like his fellow Elder the Collector, who was played by Benicio del Toro in Guardians of the Galaxy, The Grandmaster is likely to make another appearance when Thanos finally rears his head in Avengers: Inifinity War. Seeing him in Thor: Ragnarok brings us one step closer to that hotly anticipated showdown. 

Skurge the Executioner

Hela's minion Skurge the Executioner has a long and curious history in the comics, which was only hinted at in Thor: Ragnarok. A longtime villain and adversary to Thor, Skurge eventually redeemed himself in an epic storyline by writer and artist Walt Simonson that saw Skurge hold off the armies of Hel single-handedly, giving his own life in order to save Thor and a group of innocent mortals who'd been trapped in the realm of death. Before that, though, it wasn't Hela that Skurge was most closely associated with, but rather his one true love, the immortal Asgardian sorceress known as the Enchantress. Both an adversary and occasional ally of Thor, the Enchantress is arguably the most important character from the Thor comics who hasn't yet appeared in the MCU. The appearance of Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok suggests that might be on the verge of finally changing. 

Korg

The rocklike Korg was actually teased in a quick Easter egg in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—and the character contains another secret, as the CGI-created gladiator was actually played by Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi himself. But the real Easter egg behind Korg is a deep cut from the very dawn of Marvel Comics: he's part of the alien race originally known as the "Stone Men from Saturn," who Thor fought in his very first comic book appearance in 1962's Journey into Mystery #83. In fact, Korg himself is one of the very alien invaders Thor battled in his origin story. How cool is that?

Miek

Poor little Miek is played purely for comic relief in Thor: Ragnarok, his apparently lifeless body even toted around for comedic effect at the end of the movie. In the comics, though, Miek plays a much bigger, and seriously darker, role. Much of the plot of Thor: Ragnarok comes from the Planet Hulk comics arc, in which Hulk finds himself on the alien world of Sakaar and leads a band of fellow gladiators in a revolution that overthrows the despotic government. Hulk then becomes ruler of the planet, which is where things take a dark turn for Miek. Unsatisfied with the new peace Hulk has ushered in, Miek is complicit in a plot that leads to the death of Hulk's wife and child and sends Hulk on a vengeful rampage across the galaxy. It's only later that Hulk discovers the base treachery of his supposed friend.

He doesn't seem so cute and goofy now, does he?

Topaz

The keeper of the melting stick, the Grandmaster's right-hand woman has a particularly odd history, as she originally wasn't even a Marvel character at all. Instead, she was created at Malibu Comics as Queen Topaz, the ruler of a race of alien women on a world where there was little or no contact allowed between the highly segregated genders. Eventually she ended up as a superhero on Earth, and after Marvel bought out Malibu, she was summoned by the Grandmaster to be one of his champions in a fight against the Avengers, where she lost in single combat to Black Widow. Topaz is the first Malibu character to make it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, opening the door for characters like Hardcase, Firearm, and Prime to potentially make the jump to the big screen as well.

Beta Ray Bill

He didn't actually make an appearance in the flesh, but eagle-eyed observers may have noticed that one of the busts adorning the outside of the Grandmaster's tower is none other than Beta Ray Bill himself. Who's that, you ask? Well, you know that inscription on Thor's hammer that says whoever is worthy can lift the hammer and gain the power of Thor? In the comics, Beta Ray Bill shocked Thor and comics fans alike by proving himself worthy and lifting the hammer, becoming as powerful as Thor himself, and earning the Thunder God's trust as his sworn brother. Beta Ray Bill has been a fan favorite ever since he first debuted in the early '80s, so the fact that the film acknowledged his existence is enough to send hardcore Thor fans over the moon. It means that somewhere out there in the MCU, Beta Ray Bill exists. Now it's just a matter of actually putting him in a movie, and not just a statue of his head. Are you listening, Marvel?