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In the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Hela failed to stop Ragnarok and presumably died in the battle with Surtur. But, why did this happen given she was so powerful (she destroyed Mjolnir by her hand and defeated the entire Asgardian military all by herself and even Thor couldn't do anything to her by the biggest lightning of all time)?

In the beginning of the movie, maybe, Thor was able to defeat Surtur because he was weak (without the Eternal Flame). But, wasn't Thor's Father, Odin able to defeat Surtur, taking the Eternal Flame away from him?

Talking about prophecy, it couldn't be prevented, but why couldn't Hela delay it?

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    It's just possible that fights between fictional deities don't work the same as Top Trumps. – Paul D. Waite Jan 31 at 9:36
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    Because she's Hela powerful? – Valorum Feb 25 at 21:57
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Several factors are at play here and they all combine together to show us how Surtur would have defeated Hela.

Firstly, you are correct in assuming the fights between Thor and Surtur and Hela and Surtur aren't comparable. Thor was fighting a weakened and injured Surtur whereas Hela was fighting Surtur reunited with the Eternal Flame and at planet killing size/power.

We then have the fact that Hela herself was probably not at full power yet as the longer she was on Asgard she was still drawing her power from it.

Heimdall: She draws her power from Asgard and grows stronger everyday.
Thor: Ragnarok

I think it's also worth noting that just because she is extremely powerful does not mean she is invincible or undefeatable. Hela has her limits to and that happens to be a full sized Surtur, the planet killing kind. Her reaction to Surtur breaking through the palace also gives some hint that she's not entirely confident herself that she will be able to defeat him.

Hela: No...NO!
Thor: Ragnarok

And of course it's worth mentioning that Hela has been weakened. The fights for the past few hours/days may not have taken too much out of her but just before she fights Surtur Valkyrie shoves Dragonfang through her back and Thor unleashes a massive amount of lightning into her sending her into the water below.

Also whether you believe Asgard is the people or the place, by this point in time both have been sufficiently weakened. And so Hela's power has presumably been diminished somewhat.

It's worth noting that Hela took a direct hit from Surtur, if she hadn't been stupid and moved around a bit she might have dodged the Twilight Sword and not been killed. Instead she got stabbed directly with it in her last ditch attempt to defeat Surtur attacking head on. The Twilight Sword goes directly through her on its way to Asgard's core.

The Twilight Sword strikes Hela on its way to Asgard's core

I also think it's worth noting that whilst we know it was Odin who defeated Surtur, we don't know any of the details surrounding it per my knowledge. Presumably Odin would have had Asgard's army with him and maybe even Hela at that point to help him out. Hela, on the other hand was fighting on her own against him.

Thor: Surtur. Son of a bitch...you're still alive! I thought my father killed you, like, half a million years ago.
Thor: Ragnarok

Lastly, on the note of prophecies, the Ragnarok prophecy had already begun and there was no stopping it. Whilst you say it could be delayed I don't think that's how it works. Both conversations about the prophecy state it is already underway so there's probably not much room for delaying in the middle.

Surtur: But Ragnarok has already begun. You cannot stop it. I am Asgard's doom, and so are you. All will suffer, all will burn.

[...]

Odin: I failed you. It is upon us...Ragnarok.

Thor: No, I've stopped Ragnarok. I put an end to Surtur.

Odin: No. It has already begun. She's coming. My life was all that held her back, but my time has come. I cannot keep her away any longer.
Thor: Ragnarok

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  • really good answer but you could also add the fact that as Surtur destroys Asgard so he will gain in strength and Hela will get weaker as her strength comes from Asgard itself. – Richard C Jan 31 at 10:40
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    @RichardC I mentioned her strength coming from Asgard, people or place. Where's the quote about Surtur gaining strength from destroying Asgard though? – TheLethalCarrot Jan 31 at 10:41
  • my mistake just went looking for that and no it was the crown into the eternal flame that made him strong, destroying Asgard was the outcome – Richard C Jan 31 at 11:44
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    Odin also appears to be stronger than Hela, since he was able to defeat and imprison her, so it's not surprising that he was able to defeat Surtur when she fails. Or at least a combination of Odin and his kingdom/allies in both cases. – Nolimon Jan 31 at 14:15
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    @Nolimon Aye Odin had his armies and the Valkyrie in both cases at least but as we don't have many details on each case I left it somewhat of an untouched point. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 31 at 14:18
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It was stated that Hela drew power from Asgard, By destroying it, Surtur stop her from gaining more power.

"Her power comes from Asgard, same as yours. When it grew beyond Odin's control she massacred everyone in the palace and tried to seize the throne. When she tried to escape her banishment he sent the Valkyrie to fight her back." -Valkyrie to Thor

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    The throne? Are you sure? – Valorum Jan 31 at 7:26
  • The Throne part i am not sure about, but it was hinted towards. That her power comes from Asgard was confirmed tho. i'll edit my answer – A.bakker Jan 31 at 7:28
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    Her power comes from Asgard, same as yours. ~> And yet, Thor continued having powers after destruction of Asgard. – Umbrella Corporation Jan 31 at 7:56
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    I thought her power came from the people of Asgard, as did Thor's. When Thor took them away, Surtur could defeat her more easily. – Adamant Jan 31 at 8:08
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    There's nothing to state her power comes from the throne, it comes from Asgard. That quote is saying Hela tried to take the throne from Odin because she wanted to rule not that her power comes from there. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 31 at 9:50

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