Cate Blanchett to Become the Most Esteemed Member of the MCU

By  · Published on December 11th, 2015

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Remember how Doctor Strange was quietly assembling the strongest superhero movie cast ever? Well, another Marvel movie may have just trumped it with a single blow. According to Variety, only the greatest actress since Meryl Streep is in talks for a role in Thor: Ragnarok. Yes, that’s right, Cate Blanchett is joining the MCU, maybe, because the mega-franchise is set on keeping its throne as the blockbuster brand with the best acting talent. The only problem for them if they do cast Blanchett is they won’t have much higher to go in their dominance after getting her.

It’s a funny time for the actress to be in the news for something like this. Today, she received her ninth Golden Globe nomination, for her performance in Carol, and she’s a shoo-in for an Oscar nod, as well. That will be her seventh. And so she will be the highest-profile member of the MCU yet, Academy Awards-wise, by a good measure (if you go by my guide to the franchises with Oscar-caliber casts, she’ll have 27 points). It’s an even bigger deal than her being in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, since she was less-renowned at their start.

The character Blanchett would play is not known (Marvel wouldn’t even confirm the talks), but it’s speculated that she’s up for the female villain part reported last month. At the time, the word was that Marvel was seeking a very big name for the role, with Lainey Gossip going so far as to put the level of talent desired as “Cate Blanchett big.” At this point, whatever Marvel wants, Marvel gets, right? The specific role is possibly Hela, Asgardian goddess of death, who teamed up with Loki in the comics to bring about the apocalyptic Ragnarok events. Some have even noted that Hela seems to make an appearance in early Avengers: Age of Ultron concept art.

Do we even need Thor in this movie? Just give us Blanchett and Tom Hiddleston as Loki hamming it up every second. The unfortunate thing about her being a villain is the presumable shorter screen time, but Hiddleston has always been prominent enough in the MCU to be a co-lead. Plus, she’s such a talent and presence that she’ll come across as having been on screen more than she actually is, just like her memorable turn as the wicked stepmother – probably the best villain of the year – in Disney’s live-action Cinderella remake. It’s worth pointing out that there she was directed by original Thor (and once rumored to be returning) director Kenneth Branagh. And obviously she has no problem doing tentpoles for the Mouse House.

Of course, Blanchett can not save a movie all on her own. While she does pique my interest in this third Thor installment after the first two were possibly my least favorite MCU entries overall, in spite of Hiddleston being awesome, it’s hard to forget that she was also a fabulously campy villain in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and she couldn’t single-handedly make that a good movie. She’s been the best thing about quite a few mediocre movies, actually. Robin Hood is another one. This year’s Truth is yet another. But that’s okay, because then she turns around and does something like Carol and she’s golden forever.

In addition to Hiddleston, Blanchett will be joined on screen by Chris Hemsworth as the title hero and fellow Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, both of whom should be returning for at least brief reprisals. Thor: Ragnarok is also looping in Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo as guest Avenger Hulk. There’s also been rumor that another strong female character, Valkyrie, will be a significant part of the sequel, and other A-list actresses have been discussed for the role.

There are interesting names in behind-the-camera positions, too. The screenplay is being finalized by a fresh female voice, new writer Stephany Folsom. And the director is Taika Waititi, also an Oscar nominee, who most recently gave us the brilliant vampire mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows. Basically, if this doesn’t turn out to be the most entertaining Marvel movie next to Guardians of the Galaxy (I think it could be even more enjoyable with this cast and crew), it will be a huge disappointment.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.