Everything You Need To Know About Ragnarok Before Watching The New Thor Movie

Thor: Ragnarok has hit theaters, leading casual fans everywhere to ask, "What does 'Ragnarok' mean?" The term comes from Norse mythology, as does Thor himself. Ragnarok is the twilight of the gods, or in scarier terms, the end of days. It is a never ending cycle of death and rebirth for the Asgardians and the new Thor movie ambitiously takes it on.

As you can imagine, things go awry for the god of thunder during Ragnarok, both in the source material and on the silver screen. But boy does it work, as Thor: Ragnarok is hands down the best Thor movie yet, and arguably the best installment in the MCU to date. 

Here is everything you need to know about Ragnarok from the comics, as well as some other material that finds its way from the books to the plot of Thor: Ragnarok onscreen. There are some minor spoilers ahead, but bear in mind that not everything adapted from the comics occurs the same way on screen.

  • Ragnarok Isn't A One-Time Event

    Though Ragnarok means the death and destruction of Asgard, it is not the end for the Asgardians - in many ways it marks a new beginning. Ragnarok is an eternal cycle. For the Asgardians it's a necessary evil as it destroys their world and most of them, only so they can be born anew. Though each event varies, the general scheme is the same.

  • A Prophetess Foresaw The End Of Days

    Volla is a prophet (or prophetess, as 1966 Marvel had to identify her). She prophesied the coming of Ragnarok, and familiarly, she broke it down into two major events: One of ice and the other of fire. Though Volla is dead, she can still be visited in the realm of the dead to dole out prophecies by those worthy enough to make the journey.

  • The Winter Part Of Ragnarok Makes Asgardians Go Crazy

    The Winter Part Of Ragnarok Makes Asgardians Go Crazy
    Photo: Marvel

    The Ragnarok cycle begins with a brutal winter called the Fimbul Winter. Yes, winter means the end for all peoples in all worlds. It's why we have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but at least our winters don't come with White Walkers or drive us mad to the point of killing each other - which is what it does to the Asgardians. This is how Ragnarok begins, and the culmination of this winter is Loki tricking his fellow god Hoder into killing his brother Balder. 

  • Ragnarok Culminates In A Standoff Between Thor And Loki

    Once Balder has died, Heimdall sounds his horn indicating the true coming of Ragnarok. Loki then leads an army of trolls and giants across the Bifrost, felling Heimdall and ushering Odin to counterattack, resulting in the ultimate battle for Asgard. Thus ensues the last standoff between Thor and Loki, an epic battle that is always interrupted by the Midgard Serpent.

  • The Big Battle Is Interrupted By Jormungand - The Midgard Serpent And Loki's Offspring

    As the Odinsons take up arms against one another in each Ragnarok, their battle is interrupted by the arrival of the Midgard Serpent, otherwise known as Jormungand. In the comics, Jormungand is actually Loki's son, one of two he had with the sorceress Angerboda, the other being the Fenris Wolf. The reason their sons are monsters is believed to stem from the fact that both parents are magic wielders who can change their form. Odin feared the power and destructive capabilities of Jormungand and so banished him to the depths of Earth's oceans, hence his title as the Midgard (i.e., Earth) Serpent.

    He returns to lay waste to Asgard during each Ragnarok.

  • Loki's Got Some Messed Up "Kids" But Don't Expect To See Them Onscreen

    While Jormungand does not actually appear in the movie Thor: Ragnarok, the giant Fenris Wolf does. However, he's not attributed as Loki's son. The comics go much deeper into Norse mythology where gods are known to have multiple children with multiple other gods/people/entities. The MCU wisely isn't confusing viewers with so much backstory.