As we learned in both Thor films, along with references in other efforts (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, etc.), there are nine main realms that comprise the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are two others as well, both of which involve the afterlife. Naturally there’s the more science fiction-based cosmic side of the universe that the Guardians of the Galaxy films will be exploring, but for our purposes today, we will stick to the eleven realms as named by the Asgardians and take a guess at which ones might finally be revealed to us in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Earth, our world, is named Midgard. Thor & Company mostly all hail from Asgard itself. Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, in addition to visiting Asgard and Midgard, also took us to Jotunheim. The realm of the Frost Giants and their king, Laffey, who is the true father of Loki. Thor: The Dark World, in addition to glimpsing many realms in its finale, added two more to the list of worlds showcased: Vanaheim (home of the Vanir and Hogun the Grim) and Svartalfheim, the destroyed realm of the Dark Elves. Both Jotunheim and Svartalfheim lie in ruin for the most part, due to wars both of the past and of the events depicted in Thor’s two solo onscreen adventures.
That’s a whopping five realms that we have visited with Thor and Loki thus far, which is pretty sizable progress. What might Thor: Ragnarok, the trilogy capping entry in Thor’s personal saga, show us beyond what we have already seen? We do not yet officially know, but when one takes a look at the six remaining realms that have yet to be visited, some stand out more than others. After all, Ragnarok will involve the possible destruction of not only Asgard, but the nine realms as a whole.
What is Ragnarok? The end of all things, according to Asgardian mythology. The prophecy goes that the demon Surtur will be unleashed from his own realm, Muspelheim, and bring about the end of days. Will Surtur be used in the film? It’s quite possible. It’s also possible that he will be subbed for Thanos or work in conjunction with the Mad Titan and/or Loki. There are a lot of directions that Marvel can take this tale in. The important thing is that a cataclysmic event will rock Asgard and many of the other realms, causing the death of thousands…even millions…whether our foe (other than Loki) is Surtur or Thanos or another character of Feige & companies choosing. Knowing this, it makes it easier to guess which realms might be glimpsed.
So what realms are left? There’s Alfheim, home to the normal Elves of the Marvel universe, and Nidavellir, home of the Dwarves. While both could be fun additions, neither seems likely to feature prominently. If either is glimpsed, it will likely be in the form of an opening skirmish (ala Vanaheim in The Dark World) or amidst a destructive montage as whatever evil force plagues the realms and challenge Thor to stop it. The aforementioned Muspelheim seems highly likely to be featured if Surtur is indeed used. If not, then it will likely be tossed aside in favor of our remaining three realms.
The last three left to potentially grace the screen are all worlds involving the afterlife. There is the oft-mentioned Valhalla, home of the honored dead. If Odin has indeed perished at the hands of Loki, as the final reveal in The Dark World hints, then a trip to Valhalla to speak with Daddy might be in the cards for Thor. If he does not reside there, perhaps he lies within Hel? Ruled by the goddess Hela, this actually ISN’T a realm of the damned. Instead, it functions far closer to what we would call Purgatory. It is a place where neither the honored nor the dishonored dead dwell, but a place somewhere in-between. Niffleheim is the realm of the dishonored dead, where Thor foes Laffey and Malekith now likely reside in torment.
With all of the death and destruction headed our way not only in Thor: Ragnarok, but also Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Avengers: Infinity War Part II, I’d say it is highly likely that we will at least get a glimpse of all three in the coming years. As it stands, I’d be almost be willing to bet money that between the lot of them, we end up visiting most (if not all) of the six unseen realms above. It’s also quite possible that next year’s Doctor Strange tap into these areas a bit. After all, while we have seen Thanos a couple of times now, we still need to be introduced to the love of his despicable life: Mistress Death. What better way to introduce her than in one or both of the more mystical solo adventures that lie ahead of us?