It’s the Night-Crawler!

Incredible Hulk #126 (1970)

Not Kurt Wagner, Nightcrawler, but the Night-Crawler, interdimensional guardian who protects the doorway to the realm of the Undying Ones. And he’s the answer to the question, who’s the other guy on Grandmaster’s tower in Thor: Ragnarok?

In a movie characteristically replete with fun Easter eggs, it surprised me to see such an obscure Marvel reference figured prominently in the bottom left of this towering tribute to Sakaar’s grand champions. Not surprisingly, the Internet has had a very hard time identifying this guy. I only recognized him because I had just finished an exhausting research project on Valkyrie in anticipation of this very movie. The Night-Crawler makes his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk #126 (April, 1970) by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe. In this same issue Barbara Norriss, who will later go on to inhabit the body of Brunnhilde the Valkyrie (Defenders #4), sacrifices herself to release Doctor Strange from a mystical prison. Catch up on the whole twisted tale here.

The other figures on the tower are easier to identify. They either relate to Thor lore (Beta Ray Bill), Hulk business (Bi-Beast), or Contest of Champions fame (Ares and Man-Thing). And of course, ol’ Worldbreaker himself has a special under-construction section of the tower in his honor. But this use of Night-Crawler for that final piece is an impressive deep cut from Marvel’s greatest hits. Makes me pretty excited to see the lengths to which the Russo Bros pepper Infinity War with trivia nuggets.