One of the true, original gems to come from the mind of Walt Simonson during his time writing Thor was Beta Ray Bill. Debuting in Thor #337, Bill was the champion of a race of aliens known as the Korbinites. To protect his people from annihilation at the hands of Surtur, Bill’s essence was transferred into a really strange looking horse-like cyborg. While defending his people, he encountered Thor and, as the two did battle, he became the first non-Asgardian to lift Mjolnir. Awed by the worthiness of the Korbinite, Odin had a second Uru hammer forged from the same dying star as Mjlonir and gave it to Bill. Bill used the hammer, Stormbreaker, to defend his people and, eventually, the galaxy as one its greatest Cosmic heroes.
When the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok dropped in late-July, we noticed what appeared to be a partial bust of Beta Ray Bill on the Grandmaster’s Sakaaran tower along with the heads of several other Marvel characters. Having seen the film, it’s clear that these busts are made in honor of the Champions of the Grandmaster’s Contest (you can see a bust of the current champion being constructed during one scene in the film). While some saw it as a really awesome Easter Egg (Beta Ray Bill appeared in the 2010 animated Planet Hulk film), others, like myself, hoped for it to mean a little more: that Bill actually exists within the MCU.
According to Kevin Feige, Bill was very close to actually existing and, it seems, is very likely to appear somewhere down the line:
There was a Beta Ray Bill, but it was so quick that you would have the same complaints that you have now. He was in it a little bit more and it just didn’t do justice. And the feeling is, if you can’t do it justice, do it later.
So while it appears that he did have a brief cameo cut from the film, it was with the idea that bringing him back at a later date would be better. It’s hard to know what the cameo was (maybe we’ll get it in the deleted scenes) but a couple of us have been tossing around the idea that it may have been related to the large ship used for mass transport late in the film. That ship bears at least a superficial resemblance to Beta Ray Bill’s sentient ship, Skuttlebutt, which could easily have been left behind on Sakaar for any number of reasons.
Of course we have no idea if that’s just fanboy wishful thinking or not, but we’re still pretty excited about the prospects of a hero such as Beta Ray Bill showing up somewhere down the line. His hammer, Stormbreaker, is on display in the Collector’s Vault at Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy attraction and while some of those artifacts are just for fun, we’ve been told by Feige that others are hints of things yet to come in the MCU.
Given all that, it seems pretty clear they have some plans for Beta Ray Bill and we think we know the perfect spot to bring him to the screen. James Gunn has consistently said that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be the last story for this group of heroes. We also know that he’s spent considerable time shaping the next 10 years of Cosmic-based MCU films. It’s almost too perfect, but in the comics Beta Ray Bill joins up with some other Cosmic heroes in the wake of the death of Star-Lord and subsequent disbanding of the Guardians of the Galaxy. That group of heroes, the Annihilators, went on to protect the universe and could easily be reworked to be on the big screen. Of course we’ve already seen a bit of Beta Ray Bill, thanks to Gunn. The extras for the home release of Guardians of the Galaxy featured a cool 8-bit intro that featured some of the Guardians but also two other characters:
We know that one of those two extras, Starhawk, was adapted and brought to life by Gunn in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; maybe he’ll finally be the guy to deliver Beta Ray Bill in Vol. 3!