How Hela Exemplifies Right-Wing Nationalism in Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok

In Thor: Ragnarok, Hela reveals she and Odin built a militaristic society bent on conquest and Asgardian supremacy. However, it was not until Odin sought to temper his ambitions did Hela fall out of line with him. After raising his daughter to be the Goddess of Death, Odin cast her away and sealed her for the remainder of his life. Imprisoning his first-born and covering up his past with the gold and spoils from his conquests.

While explaining this history to Skurge, Hela tears down the art used to whitewash Asgard’s colonialist past and seeks to embrace the time of militaristic and violent rule over the nine realms.

Hela, in her quest to become Queen of Asgard, beckons for the “good ol’ days”. A nostalgia-fantasy that places Asgard on top — whether through violence or submission — and the rest on the bottom. This idea that this hierarchy is “natural”, and that this glorious history is lost — yet — must be regained. Worshipping national pride achieved by power, might, and dominance rather than by peace, cooperation, and diplomacy.

Right-wing nationalism follows a similar idea. It beckons for a time in the past when it was “pure” and believed to be “strong” while ignoring defects of the past such as ignorance, disease, and death. Or perhaps embracing some of the defects of the past such as slavery, segregation, and colonialism. Either way, it fits their nostalgia-fantasy of being on top because of a perception of superior strength both mentally and physically. A fantasy that requires immigrants to be removed, Muslims to be banned, Asians to be blamed for the spread of disease, and Black Americans relegated to second-class citizenship. Because the biggest threat to their fantasy is the “other”. Rather than see friends and allies, they see enemies to conquer, property to take, and servants created to serve them.

But there are better paths to greatness. Achieved through respect, humility, reconciliation, redemption, and peace. Our accomplishments are measured in our ability to work together and overcome. To help others. To better our nation.