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In the movie Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Hela says:

"I am Hela, Odin's firstborn... the rightful heir to the throne."

Is she, in fact, correct? Is she the rightful heir? I recall lots of people fighting her for various reasons but I don't seem to recall anyone actually refuting her claim.

(As this does not seem to be addressed within the movies, references from the comics et cetera are also welcome.)

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    @Oni: the fact that Japan had male primogeniture tells us absolutely bubkis about the inheritance laws of Asgard.
    – Martha
    Jan 31, 2020 at 23:00
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    She certainly thinks she's the rightful heir. I would imagine that trying to depose her father and murdering hordes of Asgardian Valkyrie would disqualify her from the position.
    – Valorum
    Jan 31, 2020 at 23:29
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    I'll see your Japan @Oni and raise you a Windsor line
    – NKCampbell
    Feb 1, 2020 at 0:23
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    When conflicts over succession arise, rightful claims don't usually matter as much as bigger army diplomacy.
    – Alarion
    Feb 1, 2020 at 1:20
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    Hela is not Odin's daughter in the comics, 616 at least, so you're not going to get an answer there.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 3, 2020 at 17:13

1 Answer 1

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At one point in time yes, however, at that point in time no. There are two main things to consider here:

Hela was imprisoned and banished by Odin, if he wanted her to still be his heir he wouldn’t have imprisoned her and removed all traces of her. She was no longer in the line of succession as is clear from Thor when he is shown to be the heir.

Odin: Her violent appetites grew beyond my control. I couldn't stop her, so I imprisoned her. Locked her away.

Thor: Ragnarok

Odin: Gungnir. Its aim is true, its power strong. With it I have defended Asgard and the lives of the innocent across the Nine Realms since the time of the Great Beginning. And though the day has come for a new King to wield his own weapon -- that duty remains the same. Thor Odinson, my heir, my first-born. So long entrusted with this mighty hammer, Mjolnir. Forged in the heart of a dying star, from the sacred metal of Uru. Only one may lift it. Only one is worthy. Who wields this hammer commands the lightning and the storm. Its power has no equal -- as a weapon, to destroy, or as a tool, to build. It is a fit companion for a King.

Thor

Of note in the quote from Thor is that Odin states Thor is his heir and also the part about Mjolnir. We know Hela used to wield Mjolnir and was for a time his second in command, she was clearly his heir and leader however it was taken away from her when she grew too violent and was imprisoned.

Also we need to look at the full quote Hela uses that you’ve supplied and it’s context.

Hela: I am Hela, Odin's first born, Commander of the legions of Asgard, the rightful heir to the throne, and the Goddess of Death. My father is dead. As are the princes. You're welcome. We were once the seat of absolute power in the Cosmos. Our supremacy was unchallenged, yet Odin stopped at Nine Realms. Our destiny is to rule over all others. And I am here to restore that power. Kneel before me...and rise into the ranks of my great conquest.

Thor: Ragnarok

Firstly, she is clearly saying things that she was, she clearly isn’t the Commander of the legions anymore as that is who she is talking to who are opposing her. She is trying to convince those Asgardians, its army, that she is the rightful heir and for them to join her.

The context that she is talking to Hogun and the legions and that they don’t know her and that she is trying to get them to join her says a lot. The whole point is to get them on her side or so she can fight them and get them out of the way. If she really was the heir, she a) wouldn’t have to do that and b) they would know who she was.

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    The underlying assumption of your answer is "the heir is whoever Odin says it is". Do we know whether this assumption is supported by Asgardian law? In many times and places in Earth's history, it was not in the current ruler's power to specify the next ruler.
    – Martha
    Feb 1, 2020 at 0:15
  • @Martha there’s nothing explicit on it but considering Odin passes it on to his heir when he wants to it seems to be his word. Or his heir is his “first born” either way the evidence works in both cases and I didn’t assume Odin chooses the heir in my answer as either interpretation here work. Of course it may be wrong but I don’t think we have any word on the matter.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 1, 2020 at 9:31
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    Here I was, thinking that whatever Odin says is Asgardian law.
    – T.J.L.
    Feb 4, 2020 at 13:24

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