You’re a Hela fan?
Thor, Loki, Odin – these characters lived in Norse mythology for thousands of years before they became stars in the Marvel universe.
And if you’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok, you might be wondering if badass Goddess of Death Hela comes from Norse myth as well.
(Warning: This post contains spoilers. If you haven’t yet seen Ragnarok, what the heck are you waiting for?)
Five Differences Between Norse Hel and Marvel’s Hela
1. Daddy Issues?
In Thor: Ragnarok, Hela’s parentage is the biggest, dirtiest secret in the Nine Realms.
She’s Odin’s firstborn, sister of Thor and Loki (although, you know, he’s adopted). And when Odin could no longer control her, he cast her out of Asgard and literally covered up any record of her existence.
Which left her super happy and well-balanced.
In the Norse myths, Hel is one of three children born to the giantess Angrboda (also known as She-Who-Offers-Sorrow) and Loki.
Also leaving her super happy and well-balanced.
2. One Scary-Lookin’ Goddess
Hela is pretty intimidating in Thor: Ragnarok. Those horns. That scowl. That eyeliner!
In the Norse myths?
The Prose Edda, one of only two surviving primary text we have for the Norse myths, describes Hel as “half light and half dark” and “somewhat downcast and fierce looking.”
In some interpretations of Norse mythology, Hel isn’t just half dark and half light.
She’s half living and half dead, which is way scarier (black eyeliner notwithstanding).
3. Goddess of What Now?
“I’m the goddess of death,” Hela growls at Thor in Ragnarok.
She also brags about drowning empires in blood.
Like I said, super happy and well adjusted.
Hel in Norse mythology is a goddess as well, but not of death.
Instead, Hel rules over the inglorious dead in her eponymously-named realm. If you don’t die a glorious death in battle, according to the prose Edda, you end up in Hel.
While the realm of Hel isn’t quite modern-day Hell – no demons, no pitchforks, no eternal torment – it’s usually not described as a very cheerful place. The Edda notes Hel has a feast hall called Hunger, a bed called Sickbed, and a threshold called Stumbling Block.
Sounds fun, right?
4. That Wolf, Yo.
The wolf Hela rides in the hidden ceiling fresco. The wolf who has been waiting, in chains, beneath Odin’s treasure room for centuries.
You know, that wolf.
Turns out Norse mythology also has a monstrous wolf who plays an important role in Ragnarok.
Fenris, or Fenrir, is another child born of Angerboda and Loki. He’s an enormous wolf who was tricked into chains with a sword thrust between his jaws, and his foaming saliva forms a river. When Ragnarok begins, Fenris will kill (and be killed by) Odin.
So in Marvel, Fenris is Hela’s friend from work.
In Norse mythology, Fenris is her brother.
And, no, he’s not adopted.
5. Queen of a Realm
Still, there is some clear common ground between Hela and Hel.
They’re both bad-ass rulers.
Marvel’s Hela is Odin’s first-born child, and the rightful heir of Asgard.
In Norse mythology, Hel is the only woman who rules an entire Realm.
Granted, it’s the realm of the dead, but she still wields real power. When Odin’s son Baldr dies, no one in the Nine Realms – not even Odin himself – can force Hel to return him to the lands of the living.
And if you’re thinking that sounds like a great set-up for a fantasy romance novel, I totally agree!
Hel and Hela: Two badass women who take zero shit.
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