Thor: Ragnarok opens with Thor being held captive by Surtur, who he quickly defeats – but later on in the movie, Thor needed Surtur to best his sister, Hela. Thor: Ragnarok‘s Surtur is one of the most powerful Asgardian entities introduced into the MCU. In over 10 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has explored many places not only on Earth but in other planets and realms. One of the heroes who has taken viewers to other parts of the universe is Thor, who has explored some of the Nine Realms as well as different planets in his solo movies prior to Thor: Love and Thunder.
In his third solo adventure, Thor: Ragnarok, the God of Thunder visited new planets and realms and came across never-before-seen threats. The movie’s main villain was Hela (Cate Blanchet), Thor’s older sister and goddess of death. Odin had banished Hela from Asgard thousands of years prior to the events of the MCU, imprisoning her in Hel after she rebelled against him, massacring many Asgardians in the process. Hela was no easy opponent, but before she was set free (which happened once Odin passed away), Thor had to defeat a seemingly bigger threat — Surtur. Here’s why Thor easily beat Surtur but couldn’t beat Hela, despite Surtur defeating Hela at the end of Thor: Ragnarok.
Thor Only Beat Surtur Because The Giant Wasn’t Near His Power Source
Thor: Ragnarok‘s Surtur was a fire giant and ruler of Muspelheim, one of the Nine Realms. The source of his power was the Eternal Flame, which was kept in Odin’s Vault as the Allfather defeated him a long time ago and banished his entire race to Muspelheim. Odin’s purpose with Surtur’s defeat was to prevent Ragnarök, the event that would destroy Asgard. A prophecy stated that Ragnarök would take place when Surtur, empowered by the Eternal Flame, unleashed his rage upon Asgard. Without the Eternal Flame, Surtur was not as powerful as he used to be, so by the time he imprisoned Thor, he wasn’t that big of a threat.
Surtur himself explains this at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok, saying he was far weaker without the Eternal Flame, which he needed to restore his full power. Surtur did look quite weak, and he struggled to get up and approach Thor with a sword. Once it was time to fight, Surtur couldn’t even fight back, and Thor ended up defeating him and taking his crown with him. Now, Hela turned out to be too powerful, and as Odin’s true heir, she was tied to Asgard. Thor realized he was not going to be able to defeat her, and in an interesting turn of events, he ended up restoring Surtur’s power by having Loki drop the crown in the Eternal Flame. This unleashed Ragnarök, which was the only way to defeat Hela as Asgard was her power source.
The key to Surtur’s defeat at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok is in his speech, which many viewers tend to forget as the scene is meant to be humorous thanks to Thor mocking Surtur’s very serious words. Ultimately, Hela wasn’t more powerful than Surtur, but the timing was on Thor’s side when he was imprisoned in Muspelheim, and as much as he tried to protect his homeworld, Asgard had to be destroyed in order to save its people and defeat Hela.
Hela’s Personality Is Also Her Weakness
Hela is one of the most powerful beings in the MCU and could have gone toe-to-toe with the likes of a pre-Infinity-Stones Thanos and come out the other side victorious. The only reason Hela wasn’t an existential threat to the entire multiverse was her Asgard fixation. While Hela was powerful enough to have fought her way to the top of the MCU antagonist charts, she was more interested in her grudge against Odin and the Asgardians. This was ultimately her downfall, as it played right into the Ragnarok prophecy which led to her and Asgard’s destruction at the hands of Thor: Ragnarok‘s Surtur. If she’d let it go and decided to conquer the wider universe right off the bat, Avengers: Endgame might have been very different.
While Hela is among the most powerful enemies Thor has faced, her arrogance meant she didn’t become the Thanos-rivaling universal threat she could have or should have been, were she a little more level-headed. Thanos was extremely arrogant, too — but unlike Hela, Thanos was a master strategist, with long-term plans not just for Asgard, but the whole universe. In the end, this was essentially what limited Hela and even Thor: Ragnarok‘s Surtur. Being tied to Asgard meant that their prophetic fates were sealed, while Thor and New Asgard have managed to escape destiny, and Thanos is remembered — even in Thor: Love and Thunder — as Earth’s greatest villain.
More: Thor Theory: Where Odin Imprisoned Hela Before Ragnarok