Bored and powerful is rarely a good combination. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that’s a description that’s usually reserved for Loki Laufeyson, the trickster god of Asgard. But the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok will introduce the Grandmaster, one of Marvel’s ultimate bored and powerful entities. Jeff Goldblum will play the Grandmaster in Ragnarok, a bit of casting that feels alarmingly perfect. Here’s why:
First: For those of you who just think Goldblum looks really cool in blue eyeliner (he does) but aren’t totally sure who Grandmaster is, here’s an explainer. The Grandmaster, originally named En Dwi Gast, is one of the oldest living beings in the universe and a member of a group called the Elders of the Universe.
The Elders are the final members of extinct races and each one is characterized by a different thing they’re particularly attached to. We met another one of these beings in Guardians of the Galaxy: Benicio del Toro’s the Collector. Though the Collector is characterized by his obsession with collecting rare artifacts and people, the Grandmaster is obsessed with playing games.
The Grandmaster loves picking fights and placing bets with other ultra-powerful beings, choosing a team of warriors and then letting those warriors duke it out with his opponent’s team. If this is starting to sound significant in the context of Ragnarok, then you’re probably on to something. It seems the Grandmaster has taken over the role of the Red King in Ragnarok and plays games using gladiator contestants on Sakaar.
See, Sakaar — that planet Thor ends up on after being banished from Asgard by Cate Blanchett’s villain, Hela — is usually controlled by a totalitarian ruler named the Red King in Marvel’s comics. Ragnarok is borrowing the Sakaar storyline from Marvel’s Planet Hulk comic series, hence the Hulk’s presence in Ragnarok. But instead of utilizing the Red King, the minds at Marvel Entertainment have placed the leadership role in the hands of Goldblum’s Grandmaster.
On the surface, the inclusion of the Grandmaster seems like a kinda cheap way to further the connection between Guardians of the Galaxy and the rest of the MCU. The Grandmaster and the Collecter are pretty much brothers, and the both of them being involved in the MCU is an easy way for the Avengers and the Guardians to be drawn together. Other than, y’know, the Infinity Stones, which is another thing altogether that still manages to be closely connected to the Elders of the Universe. Seriously, these guys are everywhere.
But, here is where the mastery of Goldblum comes in.
Goldblum has a talent for playing droll, weirdly likable characters who you would otherwise hate if they weren’t played by Goldblum. Malcolm in Jurassic Park, Seth Brundle in The Fly, and David Levinson in Independence Day might have been disastrous, disliked roles if not for Goldblum. At this point, it’s hard to separate the characters from the man playing them, but, trust us, they would have been bad. Even Goldblum’s Professor Brody in the truly spectacular Cats & Dogs (2001) would have been a forgettable thing if not for the casting.
Goldblum’s dry tone and lilting delivery will make the Grandmaster a striking opponent for Chris Hemsworth’s Thor — jubilant and straightforward — and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, who will probably go head-to-head (or, really, snark-to-snark) with the Grandmaster in order to free his brother. And Loki, Tumblr at large’s long-standing problematic fave, is going to need one hell of an opponent if that opponent stands any chance against the internet’s obsessions. Goldblum is, undoubtedly, the man for the job.
Thor: Ragnarok premieres in theaters November 3, 2017.