Hela: Bold? I am where the bold go to die. I am Hela. Queen of Niffleheim. Mistress of the damned and the dear departed.
Hela is a Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby who first appeared in Journey into Mystery #102 (dated March 1964). Originally introduced in The Silver Age of Comic Books, Hela has become one of The Mighty Thor's most enduring foes. She has also occasionally allied herself with (and fought against) other Marvel villains such as Loki, Mephisto, The Enchantress and Thanos, as well as played an antagonist role to such Marvel heroes as The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the New Mutants, Multiple Man and Angela.
Like Hel, her counterpart in Norse Mythology, Hela is the Asgardian Goddess of Death and the ruler of Hel and Niffleheim, ominous ice and mist-covered realms that occupy the bottom (or the roots) of Yggsdrasil and are home to the embodied souls of Asgardians that did not die in battle (those who did die in battle go to Valhalla), as well as the souls of the "dishonored dead".
The alleged daughter of Loki, the God of Mischief, and a Jötunn sorceress called Angerboda, Hela first came to the Allfather Odin's attention when the Norns (the three Goddesses of Fate) warned him that she would pose a great threat to the Nine Realms. Odin, in response, cast her down to Hel and appointed her as the Goddess of Death when she reached majority. Since that time she has frequently come into conflict with both Odin and his son Thor as she has schemed and plotted to conquer Valhalla, Asgard, the Nine Realms and even the universe as a whole. In one story line she went as far as to plot with Loki to bring about Ragnarok, the "Twilight of the Gods". In another she stole a portion of Odin's soul and used it to create a supremely powerful entity called 'Infinity' note which she then unleashed on the universe in a bid for ultimate conquest. The entity took complete control of Odin and caused mass chaos and destruction universe wide as the entity devoured all around it, Midgard especially, where wars raged on endlessly until Thor finally defeated the entity by combining his powers with Loki and Karnilla to separate it from his father for good.
Later (during Walt Simonson's now legendary run on The Mighty Thor), a vengeful Hela cursed Thor with a dark form of immortality wherein he could not die, but his bones were weak and brittle and he could not heal from any wound or injury, therefore making his eternal life nothing more than an endless torture. Of course, this ultimately didn't stick and Thor eventually defeated her and forced her to lift the curse by transferring his soul into the Destroyer and invading Hel.
Over the years she has featured in many more story lines, initially limited to The Mighty Thor and Journey into Mystery books, but recent times have seen her more increasingly crossing over into the wider Marvel universe and interacting with earth-bound characters such as the New Mutants and The Avengers and cosmic characters such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos and his Black Order.
Hela has appeared in animated form in the Direct to Video movie Hulk Vs. Thor, one episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! and two episodes of Avengers, Assemble!. She made her live action debut as the Big Bad in Thor: Ragnarok, the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, played by Cate Blanchett. The MCU version of Hela differs from her comics counterpart in that she is the daughter of Odin rather than Loki and is therefore also the estranged older sister of Thor and the true heir to the throne of Asgard. She is also notable as being the first major female villain in an MCU film. To see tropes about the MCU version of Hela, visit her own character page just here.
Hela appears in:
Notable Comic Appearances
- Journey into Mystery
- The Mighty Thor
- New Mutants
- Fear Itself
- Avengers Prime note
- Angela: Queen of Hel
- The Unworthy Thor
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2019)
- Hulk Vs. Thor (2009) - Voiced by Janyse Jaud
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! (2011) - Voiced by Nika Futterman
- Disney XD's Marvel Universe franchise:
- Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers (2011) - Voiced by Katharine Chesterton
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance (2012 - Present) - Appears as a boss in Special Operations 24: Land of Fire and Ice, after forming an alliance with Surtur, Ymir and Malekith the Accursed.
- Marvel Future Fight (2016 - Present) - Appears as a Universal Hero and World Boss. She can be used in multiple Asgardian team combinations with Thor, Loki, Odin, Sif, Enchantress and Angela.
- Avengers Academy (2017 - Present) - Introduced as a non-playable character and the main villain of the Thor: Ragnarok event in 2017.
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (2017) - Appears as a playable character voiced by Kate Kennedy.
- Marvel: Contest of Champions (2017 - Present) - Appears as a playable character introduced in the Thor: Ragnarok tie-in event in 2017 and then alongside Thanos as a major antagonist in the 'Infinity Chaos' event in 2018.
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (2019) Appears as a boss.
Hela provides examples of:
- Absolute Cleavage: In a recent Journey into Mystery storyline, Hela wore a long green gown that had a neckline cut all the way down to her navel.
- Abusive Parents: In her original back story, Hela was the daughter of Loki, whom she historically has an openly antagonistic relationship with. Loki has never given any real indication that he cares at all about Hela or her well-being and has even openly goaded and mocked her in the past, so it's perhaps not surprising that she has little time for him or his tricks.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Unlike Hel in the original myths, the other half of Hela's face does not look like a rotting corpse. This is later subverted by the reveal that her attractiveness is an upgrade granted by an enchanted Badass Cape. Without it, her appearance is more like her original, mythic form (dead on the left side of her body, living on the right).
- Adaptational Villainy: In the myths, Hel was a neutral entity who only upheld the laws of death. In the comics she started off as a somewhat neutral character but gradually over time became an outright malicious entity.
- Alternate Universe: In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Hela is the ruler of Valhalla rather than Hel and is also not the daughter of Loki like her 616 counterpart. After Valkyrie died during the events of Ultimatum, Thor petitioned Hela to bring her back to life but Hela would only grant his request if he firstly defeated her undead army and secondly remained in Valhalla in Valkyrie's place, both challenges that he met. Hela then, desiring an heir, asked Thor to give her her ultimate desire, with which he seemed ready to comply without raising too much (if any) fuss. Hela later gave birth to her and Thor's son, Modi, who (of course) turned out to be evil and ultimately had to be offed by Thor himself.
- Astral Projection: Hela can travel around in her astral form (when her soul leaves her physical body) and still retain all her powers as a Death Goddess. She can remain in her astral form for as long as she wishes unlike human astral projectionists due to her vast super strength and metabolism.
- Back from the Dead: Hela herself has the ability to raise the dead, but she has also been the subject of this trope. During one storyline, Thor was forced to surrender to her to save innocent mortals from her wrath and Odin, knowing that his son's demise was likely, killed Hela in a blind rage. Thor, knowing that Hela is vital to the life/death balance in the Nine Realms, then convinced Odin to bring her back to life.
- Badass Boast: She likes engaging in this to anyone that she deems inferior to herself, which is, well... everyone."Thunder God... accept your fate. None may challenge Hela's will."
- Badass Cape: Her magical cloak is more badass than most. It's pretty much her very life essence itself, with it she's stronger and more powerful than a majority of the Asgardian race (perhaps second only in raw power to Odin himself), but without it she reverts to her 'true form' where the left side of her body is dead and decayed and she's so weak that she can barely stand. With her cloak she appears fully alive and beautiful. She doesn't even need to be wearing the cloak to return to her stronger form, just touching it restores her powers.
- Badass in Charge: She's the feared ruler of The Underworld and one of a very few characters in the whole Marvel universe (and perhaps the only female character other than maybe She-Hulk) who can physically fight The Mighty Thor himself. Not to mention that in Avengers Prime she fought Thor, Captain America and Iron Man all at the same time. Oh, and her ride? A frickin enormous Hel-Wolf◊.
- Battle Ballgown: You better believe that Hela has one of these◊.
- Big Bad: Of Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers Prime mini-series where her actions are responsible for trapping The Avengers across separate realms and her theft of Surtur's 'Twilight Sword' grants her the power to remake the Nine Realms in her own twisted image.
- Black Magic: She can summon vast amounts of Asgardian black magic and use it for various things such as firing deadly bolts of energy, creating illusions, limitless astral projection, time travel, levitation and teleportation. She can also halt and redirect Mjölnir itself mid-flight, a trick she's used against Thor more than once.
- Chainmail Bikini: This is pretty much Ultimate Hela's whole look, complete with a skull motif and a few flimsy pieces of armor over the top.
- Clothes Make the Supervillainess: As mentioned above, much of her life essence is found in her cloak and being separated from it weakens her greatly.
- Combat Stilettos: Sometimes, Depending on the Artist.
- Cool Helmet: Just look at that thing. Hela definitely inherited her father's affinity for elaborate headgear. And then took it Up to Eleven. She has a whole collection of them◊.
- Cool Ship: Naglfar, made from the fingernails of the dead.
- Cool Sword: She is often armed with her 'Nightsword' which gives her the power to command an army of the dead. She also once wielded Surtur's fiery and immensely powerful 'Twilight Sword'.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: An amusing example when Hela fought the huge demon Asmodeus who was arrogant enough to massively underestimate her and mock her, calling her 'woman'. Hela responded by teleporting away and attacking from behind, overpowering him with ease.
- Another example in The Unworthy Thor #5 when Hela dispatches two high ranking members of Thanos' Black Order (Proxima Midnight and Black Swan) with apparent ease.
- Daddy's Little Villain: Subverted. As the Goddess of Death, per the way the Marvel cosmology works, she is one of the most important and powerful deities in her pantheon, which means she can kick her dad's ass. Loki is afraid of her, she doesn't tolerate his antics, nor does she even like him. She's also the size of a frost giant, unlike Loki.
- Dark Action Girl: Hela doesn't often rely on her physical prowess, but when she does she's a fierce opponent that is able to fight the Mighty Thor himself.
- Dating Catwoman: Thor's older brother Tyr, the Asgardian God of War is usually portrayed as a protagonist, or at least an Anti-Hero at his worst, but in Fear Itself he willingly becomes the commander of Hela's underworld forces and there is a clear attraction between the two that they try to deny. Later, in Angela: Queen of Hel, Tyr (along with Balder) leads the opposition against Angela (who is attempting to dethrone Hela), admitting that he does it out of love for the Death Goddess. Whether Hela returns his sentiments has yet to be seen.
- Death Is Cheap: Especially when you're a Death Goddess who can kill and resurrect individuals at will. Hela herself was killed by Odin at one stage, but he was forced to resurrect her when he saw the chaos caused in the Nine Realms without the life/death balance that her mere existence provides.
- Dimension Lord: Of Hel and Niffleheim.
- Dramatic Unmask: A variant of this trope was used during Unworthy Thor. From the first issue, the readers were teased with a mysterious hooded figure who helped Thanos escape from his earthly prison and worked with the Black Order to retrieve the Mjolnir of the Ultimate Universe. The mysterious figure is finally revealed to be Hela in the final issue when she dramatically throws back her hood and reveals herself to Thanos.
- The Dreaded: Let's face it, no one wants to meet Hela. Lampshaded by the lady herself:"Why then must men hate me and fear my approach? In truth I am gentle... In truth I am fair... To me, all are equal. I deny none my embrace."
- Even Hela herself is scared stiff of the Demogorge, who happens to be Thor's older half brother and an Elder God. If any deity meets him, it probably means its the end of the line for them, as he's basically true death for gods. For everybody's great luck the rules are such that he generally can only come after the forgotten.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Hela is traditionally drawn (sans mask and head covering) as having very pale skin, black hair and bright green eyes. As she is also usually depicted as being very beautiful, Raven Hair, Ivory Skin could also apply.
- Enemy Mine: Though Hela has often fought against other Death Gods or Demons in the Marvel Universe such as Pluto (Death God of the Greek Pantheon) and Mephisto (powerful demonic entity), often for control of the various death realms and the souls of superheroes such as Thor, in X-Men: Infernus she was forced to join many of them in a Villain Team-Up called the 'Hell Lords' who formed to discuss a disturbance created by the newly resurrected Magik when she was looking for the original Bloodstone amulet.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Hela has several times been impressed by acts of courage or love. For example, when Thor first lifted Mjölnir to save Sif, who through other circumstances had died, Thor was willing to trade his life for hers. Hela was so impressed by Thor's nobility that she restored Sif to life.
- Everybody Hates Hades: Often justified. She has schemed to take control of Valhalla and Asgard more than once, and on at least one occasion was shown killing mortals indiscriminately. In both Norse myth and the comics, she is on the side of evil (or destruction, at least) during Ragnarok. Nonetheless, she serves a crucial and indispensable function managing the souls of the Asgardian dead.
- Femme Fatale: She once posed as one on Earth as part of a scheme. Well, she was trying to pose as an ordinary human woman, but given that's not something she has much experience with, this was the result◊.Jamie Madrox: "Femmes don't get much more fatale than you, do they?"
- Fisher King: She can physically alter her realm through her own will alone, including altering the landscape and transforming it into a place of darkness to stop beings from escaping. She also has this kind of effect on the Nine Realms themselves, her existence is essential to the life/death balance being maintained and when Odin once killed her, the effects on the Nine Realms was immediately devastating."Hel is a world bound to the mind of its mistress and queen, Hela, Ruler of the Dead. The realm shifts by her will. Its laws are ancient, and her whims can twist those laws until they scream... but not until they break. As Valhalla is a realm of honor, and Faerie a realm of temptation... Hel is the realm of trials. Sometimes, Hel is a pit. Sometimes, Hel is a palace. Now, Hel is a puzzle box. It's not a place of sheer suffering, you ought to know. For the wicked, it is punishment. For the righteous, it is reward. For everyone else, it's pretty chill. No Taco Tuesdays, and no Wi-Fi, but, you know. Still pretty chill..."—-Sera (Angela: Queen of Hel #1)
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Her implausibly skintight black and green catsuit.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Surprisingly averted with her own undead subjects. She may be a queen and she may be evil, but she appears to be somewhat of a benevolent ruler in her own realm. Played straight when she's outside of her realm though.
- Green and Mean: She almost always dresses predominantly in green.
- I Call It "Vera": Her "Nightsword".
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Her motivation for some of her schemes against Thor. She is stuck in the underworld and wants some companionship. According to Kieron Gillen's run on Journey into Mystery, this is because Hela was literally created, not born, from Loki. Kid Loki envisioned her as his perfect friend, and they grew mutually fond of each other. Then, after "Classic" Loki put himself back in charge, Kid Loki had Leah shipped into the distant past to grow into the powerful Hela and become able to stop his shenanigans. As such, she got deprived of her intended soulmate.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Hela's skintight green and black catsuit, Badass Cape and crazy headgear have become such an iconic look that it's strange to see her dressed at all differently, such as in the recent Journey Into Mystery books where she still had the headgear and cloak but swapped the catsuit out for a long green gown. She even kept the iconic look in her first live-action adaptation in Thor: Ragnarok.
- Interspecies Romance: Hela may or may not be an Asgardian depending on which origin story is used (one early one even states she is a long lost daughter of Odin himself) but in most continuities she is a Jotun, which means that her relationship with the Asgardian prince Tyr counts.
- Also Thanos, who is an Eternal from Titan.
- In Their Own Image: She once managed to get her hands on Surtur's fiery 'Twilight Sword' and then used it's immense power to remake the Nine Realms 'in her own image'. Not surprisingly, Hela's version of the Nine Realms was a lot darker and more twisted place.
- Hot as Hell: She's the ruler of the Asgardian underworld and, well, she's really hot. There's also the fact that she sometimes has a tendency to run around semi-naked◊ for no apparent reason. And let's not even get started on her Ultimate Marvel incarnation...
- Lady of Black Magic: An evil death goddess of vast mystical sorcery with a fondness for wearing tight catsuits and speaking Flowery Elizabethan English, and composed, elegant, and prideful. Unlike most she's also very capable in hand to hand and swordsmanship, doubling as a Dark Lady of War.
- Large and in Charge: Her mother is (probably) a giantess, and her father is one too, though a notedly runty specimen that's the size of a human. Being a giant is in her genes.
- Little Black Dress: She wears a sexy little black number◊ when she's hanging around in Las Vegas with the mortals in New Mutants #11.
- Magic Knight: Hela is both a powerful sorceress who has vast mystical abilities and a badass fighter and highly proficient swordswoman.
- Master of Illusion: Another one of her many powers. She once captured Thor and the Warriors Three in Hel but used a powerful illusion of an idyllic paradise to keep them there, when in reality they were leading the Einherjar to their deaths.
- Monochromatic Eyes: Depending on the Artist, sometimes Hela has normal (albeit eerily green) eyes, but more often that not she is drawn as having either totally white, green or red eyes.
- Most Common Super Power: She is usually drawn as being incredibly uh... well endowed up top. Especially in the Ultimate Marvel universe.
- Ms. Fanservice: She's drawn with a skintight catsuit at her most discreet, and titles such as Siege and X-Factor give her an Absolute Cleavage that show that she got bestowed with the Most Common Super Power. Then there's her Ultimate Marvel counterpart, where instead of a catsuit she wears a few pieces of armor and a thong.
- Multiple-Choice Past: During Kieron Gillen's run on Journey into Mystery, it appears as if neither Loki nor Hela knows for sure whether Loki truly is her father, even though in earlier issues of The Mighty Thor he was explicitly stated to be so. Later on during the same run we are given a new origin story for Hela, which is rather different from the one described above, though in a sense Loki still is her father.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: All Asgardians are extremely tough and durable, but Hela takes it Up to Eleven. She can withstand great impact forces, temperature and pressure extremes, high caliber bullets and powerful energy blasts without sustaining injury. Even if you do manage to injure her, she also has super-regenerative healing powers which means she doesn't stay down for long.
- Odd Friendship: Hela and Dani Moonstar have had a long standing Friendly Enemy relationship. She actually trusted Dani to safeguard her soul!, and Hela even gave Dani back her powers after the events of the House of M storyline, see the Super Empowering example below.
- Physical Goddess: Not only that, but she's the most powerful Goddess in her pantheon.
- Power Floats: Hela can't fly but (like Loki) she can levitate and she seems to enjoy floating ominously above people, no doubt to appear even more intimidating than her height already allows.
- Reclining Reigner: Hela is depicted in this manner within an issue of X Factor. Sure, her natural form is half rotting corpse, but she knows how to pull off the eye candy◊.
- Rogues Gallery Transplant: She is usually a Thor villain, but has also played an antagonist role to other Marvel heroes such as the New Mutants, The Avengers and Angela. As part of the Villain Team-Up, the 'Hell-Lords' (with other demonic villains including Mephisto, Dormammu, Blackheart and Satannish) she has also been a threat to the entire Marvel universe as a whole.
- Self-Duplication: Hela is able to create several less powerful versions of herself. Generally when she doesn't want to risk her whole being against a foe (like the Disir). Or when she's injured and it's easier to make the lost part of her into a copy of sorts than healing, like she did with her 'handmaiden' Leah.
- Sorcerous Overlord: The sorcerous queen of The Underworld.
- Soul Eating: After the events of Ragnarok, Hela went to earth and maintained a lair in a Las Vegas casino called the Inferno Club where she would prey on and consume the souls of the weak as sustenance.
- Spikes of Villainy: Her iconic headdress is enormous, elaborate and spiky.
- Stable Time Loop: Hela's whole new origin story is an example of this. The reincarnated Kid Loki meets Leah as Hela's handmaiden. He proceeds to write a character based on her into the past of the Serpent. Later, Hela's hand is healed, Leah (having been Hela's literal handmaiden) disappears, and Hela makes a cryptic comment to Loki about how everyone believes he is her father. When Surtur tries to burn the Nine Realms he recruits the girl Loki wrote into the Serpent's past, as she resents Loki for not giving her any chance to grow. Loki rewrites the girl's story so that she becomes the Leah that he knew. Then things happen in such a way that he ends up asking Hela to send the new Leah to a place as far away from him as possible. Hela sends Leah to the distant past, and reveals to the readers that she is Leah, all grown up.
- Statuesque Stunner: She's drawn as both very attractive and very tall, the latter at least for human standards.
- Super Empowering: She has empowered various lesser beings, but the most notable example is when she granted powers to Dani Moonstar◊ who was depowered following the events of the House of M storyline in exchange for Moonstar acting as her personal Valkyrie whenever Hela needs use of her.
- Super Strength: Hela is right up there with Thor in strength levels, she's actually so strong that she can fight him to a stalemate in direct combat. That puts her in the class 100 'potentially incalculable' strength scale and means that she's easily one of the physically strongest female characters in the whole of the Marvel Universe.
- Super Weight: She is Level 5 as a Physical God, and a particularly powerful one at that.
- Teleportation: One of her many powers, she can travel anywhere in the Nine Realms in an instant.
- Token Evil Teammate: Very briefly during her time working with the New Mutants during that book's crossover with Fear Itself, hoping to thwart the Serpent.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In the early days of Journey Into Mystery, Hela was often portrayed as a less overtly villainous character who was merely lonely being stuck in the Underworld with no real companionship. More recent portrayals however have turned her into more of a Card-Carrying Villain who will do anything to extend her rulership to Valhalla and Asgard, including trying to kick-start Ragnarok (the Norse apocalypse) itself.
- Touch of Death: As expected from a Death Goddess, she has this power. She can also fire deadly bolts of energy that can kill both Asgardians and humans alike, meaning she doesn't even have to actually touch you to kill you.
- Third-Person Person: She has a rather unusual and oddly endearing habit of talking about herself in the third person:"This is the gathering of the dead. If you liked it, there would be something wrong with you. Only Hela likes it. And it is not a matter of whether she likes it or not. It must be done, and done swiftly."
- The Undead: Hela's subjects, minions and army are all undead, often shown as being zombie like humanoid creatures in varying states of decay.
- The Underworld: Hela's realm of Hel (yes, that's one l) is not the Christian Hell, but the Asgardian underworld which houses the spirits of those that did not die in battle, but instead of illness and old age, e.t.c. The 'dishonored dead' (a.k.a. those who commited evil deeds in life) are sent to the realm of Niffleheim (which Hela also rules), a dead land of endless ice and mist.
- Unholy Matrimony: With Thanos as of The Unworthy Thor #5. Hela promises him everything he has ever wanted in exchange for his help in her taking back her kingdom. The two then share a passionate kiss.
- Quite literally with the sometimes enemy of Asgard, Karnilla the Norn Queen, who Hela wed in Thor Vol 5 #4, initially for political reasons. They seem to be quite happy to sit back and rule Hel together so far, but who knows what mischief and chaos they could concoct together in the future...
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Thor's older brother Tyr during Fear Itself and Angela: Queen of Hel. Tyr is clearly in love with Hela and she seemed to share the sentiment at the time, but she has moved onto Thanos since then... Poor Tyr still seems to be hung up on Hela as of Thor Vol 5 #4 as he can be seen looking decidedly miserable at her wedding to Balder (and then Karnilla) in the issue.
- Villainesses Want Heroes: She has had a love/hate (occasionally stalkery) relationship with Thor ever since they first met. It mostly manifests through her gloating that his soul will be hers sooner or later, no matter how he tries to avoid it. In the very last issue of Thor Volume 1, she offers Thor the chance to rule as her Prince-consort and mate, knowing that he would die during the battle with Onslaught.
- Your Size May Vary: She isn't giant-sized in Marvel: Avengers Alliance or in any of her recent comics or video game incarnations for that matter. It could be explained away by the fact that she has many magical powers and could appear as being whatever size she chooses at the time.
- Your Soul is Mine!:
- She has long lusted after Thor's soul and will go to the lengths of threatening all out war upon others (such as Mephisto) who try to claim it for themselves.
- In an early Thor storyline she stole a portion of Odin's soul while he was trapped on the 'Sea of Eternal Night' (thanks to Loki) and used to create an extremely powerful entity capable of defeating the Allfather that she named 'Infinity'.