One of the most confusing aspects of Avengers: Age of Ultron was Wanda Maximoff’s ability to project visions into characters’ heads. Thor’s in particular gets a ton of screentime, and there’s probably a really good reason why.
Spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron follow.
As a brief refresher, Wanda Maximoff puts a mental beating on the Avengers when they arrive to confront Ultron at Ulysses Klaue‘s arms factory. Captain America sees a nightmarish vision of a 1940s dance hall, Black Widow is taken back to her days in the Red Room, and Thor?
Thor walks right out of reality and into… a bitchin’ dance party? That doesn’t seem so bad, but given how much Thor was freaking out over it, we know it’s pretty damn important.
That’s because all of that demonic, surrealistic imagery wasn’t just random set dressing, it could very well represent Hel, the Norse underworld. In the comics, Hel is an actual place that exists as part of the Nine Realms, and we even glimpsed it for a brief moment during Thor: The Dark World.
Alternatively, it might be Asgard itself, thrown into anarchy under Loki’s rule.
Why is this important?
Thor’s vision was important enough to him that he felt the need to seek out the Water of Sight, which led to his discovery that Loki’s scepter contained an Infinity Stone. Anytime you name-drop an Infinity Stone, that means business, but doubly so this time because the next Thor film isn’t just any random sequel, it’s Thor: Ragnarok.
What is Ragnarok?
We go into this in much greater detail here, but suffice to say, Ragnarok is the end of days in Norse mythology. Thor’s vision in Age of Ultron shows Heimdall blinded and insane, implying some kind of cataclysmic event to come. Could this be Ragnarok? It sure feels like it.
And while it’s true that Wanda’s projections aren’t actually prophecies, she absolutely has ties to the Infinity Stones (she got her powers from the Mind Stone after all). It’s definitely worth noting that while Cap’s vision was something of a nightmare, and Black Widow’s was just a flashback, Tony Stark’s was totally grounded in coming events.
His vision almost perfectly recreated the look of Thanos’s throne “room,” despite the fact that Stark had never seen this before. My guess is that like the Vision, Wanda’s exposure to the Infinity Stones have given her some kind of a link to their power, subsequently allowing Stark to glimpse Thanos’s plan.
This to me means that it’s totally plausible that what Thor saw wasn’t just a nightmare, it was a foretelling of coming events.
Given that Asgard is sort of the buffer space between Earth and the far reaches of space we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s also the de facto source for a lot of new developments regarding the Infinity Stones (and home to a freakin’ Infinity Gauntlet no less). With Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War feeling a bit more grounded in the here-and-now, it seems likely that the next big step towards Infinity War will happen with Ragnarok, and Thor’s vision of Hel here might be our first glimpse at that epic story.