One of the biggest moments of the MCU was a heroic death that happened in a Thor movie, but the comic book version was far more epic.
One of the new characters added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok is the formidable Asgardian warrior Skurge the Executioner. Fitting in with the more comedic angle of Ragnarok in comparison to previous Thor films, this iteration of Skurge is largely played for laughs when first introduced before eventually becoming Hela’s right hand man. Just like the comic book source material, Skurge ultimately sacrifices his life in a bullet-ridden last stand when he finally decides to turn against Hela and side with his fellow Asgardians as they leave their cosmic kingdom. However, as impressive as Karl Urban’s performance is as Skurge, including his death scene, the character’s death in the comic books is even more memorable and epic than it was in the MCU.
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1964’s Journey Into Mystery #103, Skurge was initially presented as a supervillain with an obsessive infatuation with the longtime Thor antagonist the Enchantress. Skurge would battle with Thor and his fellow Avengers, both alone and as a member of the supervillain team the Masters of Evil sporadically over the years. After the Enchantress spurned Skurge for Heimdall, the Executioner decided to team up with his longstanding frenemy Thor to mount a rescue mission into the heart of Hel for the souls of living humans held captive by Hela. And after Hela attempted to manipulate Skurge through hallucinations and visions of the Enchantress, the Executioner swore he would thwart the Goddess of Death’s plans even at the expense of his own life.
In 1985’s Thor #362 (written and illustrated by Walt Simonson), Skurge and the Asgardian warriors in Hel begin their escape from the netherworld across the mystical bridge of Gjallerbru. Thor declares he will remain behind in a suicidal rearguard action that will allow his comrades and the rescued souls to successfully escape as he buys time battling Hela’s advancing hordes of demons and undead. However, Skurge knocks the God of Thunder unconscious and decides to take his place, finally earning the respect and redemption that he had desperately been seeking. With Thor’s brother Balder taking the lead and his unconscious brother in tow, the Asgardians and humans escape, and Skurge dies ensuring that not a single demon passes him as he blasts away at the incoming armies with his assault rifles until he is eventually overrun, with him gaining the begrudging respect of Hela for his heroic last stand.
Skurge would resurface occasionally after his heroic sacrifice in the comics, with his soul eventually freed from Hel in a joint mission by the Asgardians and New Mutants. The resurrected Executioner would die again during the crossover event War of the Realms as he battled against Malekith’s army of invading Dark Elves, only for his soul to journey to Valhalla, once again proving his warrior spirit and code of honor worthy enough to gain access to the Asgardian paradise.
Thor: Ragnarok recreates much of Skurge the Executioner’s heroic sacrifice, specifically with the warrior confronting Hela to save his fellow Asgardians from her advancing army, memorably employing two assault rifles to blast away at the hordes of undead.
However, Skurge’s last stand is one of the most iconic, celebrated moments in Thor comics and certainly the most memorable moment to feature the character, setting up what is perhaps an impossibly high bar for even the MCU to top.
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