This article contains spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok and House of the Dragon
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Taika Waititi twirled Mjolnir and made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut with Thor: Ragnarok. While we’ve since had Thor: Love and Thunder, most agree Ragnarok is the God of Thunder’s best. More recently, we’ve become obsessed with HBO’s House of the Dragon and a fight for a more painful throne than the one in Asgard. It might be hard to connect the dots to Westeros, but on another viewing, Thor: Ragnarok is Marvel’s answer to House of the Dragon – just with fewer dragons and no Jeff Goldblum.
Succession is the name of the game in both the Nine Realms and the Seven Kingdoms, with the crux of House of the Dragon season 1 being about who will take over from King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) when he inevitably passes. The whole series starts with a similar conundrum when Viserys is crowned after King Jaeherys Targaryen. With 14 different succession claims heard, Viserys beat Jaeherys’ rightful heir, as Rhaenys (Eve Best) became known as the Queen Who Never Was.
Things quickly heated up in House of the Dragon, with Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy) being named as Vis’ successor. This didn’t sit well with Rhae’s former BFF, because Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey/Olivia Cooke) thinks her own children with Viserys should claim the Iron Throne. This has led to some friction between two sides known as the Greens (supporting Aegon II Targaryen) and the Blacks (those on team Rhaenyra). How this all ties to Thor: Ragnarok is because Cate Blanchett’s Hela found herself in the same situation of bloodlines and forgotten succession.
Kenneth Branagh’s Thor explored the family troubles of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, but that was nothing compared to their sibling scuffles with Hela. Thor: Ragnarok even had an A-list Asgardian acting group made up of Sam Neill, Matt Damon, and Luke Hemsworth act out the events of the movies. This was repeated in Love and Thunder with Melissa McCarthy playing Hela, while the squabbles of the Targaryen succession were also acted out in House of the Dragon. It was during the amateur production that Rhaenyra learned the masses were unwilling to accept a queen instead of a king.
When Odin (Anthony Hopkins) died, Thor and Loki learned that the long-haired God of Thunder had a villainous half-sister. Like Rhaenyra, Hela was Odin’s firstborn child and was clearly his favorite for a while. It was assumed that she’d lead Asgard after his death, but when she staged a bloody coup against her father in the Royal Palace of Valaskjalf, he imprisoned her in the desolate wasteland of Hel. Viserys was a peaceful leader in House of the Dragon, whereas Odin was an aged warlord. Still, Odin did everything in his power to avoid wars in his later years – trying to broker peace with the Frost Giants and scolding his hot-headed son in the first Thor movie. The whole reason Odin clashed with Hela was because he realised peace was the way forward instead of trying to conquer.
Similarly to Viserys, it was only following Odin’s death that things really kicked off, after Hela arrived on the scene.. The death of Viserys proved a pivotal point of House of the Dragon, and in trying to prevent a civil war, he accidentally started one that will literally burn the realm to the ground. In Ragnarok, Hela wasted no time making the most of her freedom, destroying Mjolnir, and launching a devastating attack on Asgard that saw her claim the throne. We won’t ruin what happens in House of the Dragon‘s Fire & Blood source material, but safe to say, with the death of her son in the season finale, Rhaenyra is sure to have her sights on her half-brother Aemond II’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) crown.
Rhaneyra isn’t as villainous as the Goddess of Death, but one of House of the Dragon season 1’s big complaints is that the writers haven’t made her as evil as her book counterpart. Ultimately, you aren’t supposed to root for anyone in House of the Dragon, which even led to Executive Producer Sara Hess going on a rant about fans idolizing Matt Smith’s Damon Targayren. The clue is in the name that the upcoming Dance of the Dragons will see a more villainous Rhaenyra emerge, and similar to Hela, she thinks her birthright to rule is worth killing the masses for. Instead of riding a dragon, though, Hela charges into battle on a giant wolf.
There are obviously some differences here. Apart from a cocky swagger and some blonde hair, the heroic Thor is a million miles away from the narcissistic Aegon II. That being said, the slippery Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) is already emerging as a fan-favorite with a darker side. Much like Hiddleson’s portrayal of Loki, he’s hard not to like. Does this mean House of the Dragon Season 2 will follow the storyline of Thor: Love and Thunder with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) returning as Rhaenyra’s jacked ex? Probably not, but if you see some screaming goats in the throne room and Christian Bale gets cast as Lord Grover Tully, don’t say we didn’t warn you.