Recently, director Taika Waititi hosted a live-streaming of his film Thor: Ragnarok on Instagram Live, where he was joined by guests Tessa Thompson and Mark Ruffalo. Apart from divulging various facts about the upcoming sequel, Waititi also explained the significance of Odin's death scene that we got to see in Thor: Ragnarok.
"If you saw the trailer, there's a scene where Odin dies in New York. For various reasons we wanted to get them out of New York and set up this place for Avengers: Endgame. We wanted to seed this location earlier to set up Asgard's new home. Also, the test audiences felt bummed out about Odin dying next to trash and garbage in an alley."
The scene in question involves Thor and Loki's reunion with their father Odin, who reveals to them the existence of their sister Hela, the Goddess of Death. In the movie, the scene occurs after Doctor Strange sends the brothers to Norway, where they meet their father sitting peacefully near the edge of a cliff. After a brief discussion, Odin willingly passes away, his death signaling the arrival of Hela.
In the deleted scene mentioned by Taika Waititi, the story plays out differently, with Thor and Loki discovering their father wandering in a New York alleyway, where they are ambushed by Hela, who stabs and kills Odin.
It is a much bloodier end and one which apparently cast Odin in too sympathetic a light for Waititi's taste. The film later went on to reveal that Odin had spent hundreds of years using Hela to subjugate the cosmos, before renouncing his violent ways and becoming a benevolent king.
For Thor, learning that his father was not as pure as he had believed was a humbling moment, prompting him to become disillusioned with the whole idea of royalty, so that he passes on his kingly duties to Valkyrie as Asgard's new protector. So ultimately, Waitit's instinct resulted in a more complex journey for Thor's character.
Moving Odin's death to Noway also allowed viewers to catch a glimpse of the place where the Asgardians would set up their new home after escaping to Earth, which we got to see in Avengers: Endgame. It's yet another example of the synergy between MCU movies, even when being directed by different filmmakers with distinct and often conflicting styles. No better example of this exists than the story of the infinity stones continuing over from the wacky and zany Thor: Ragnarok to the grim and bloody Avengers: Infinity War.
Thor and his allies will be seen next in Thor: Love and Thunder, which Waititi is helming. During his Instagram Live feed, the filmmaker promised that the sequel is going to be bigger and zanier than Ragnarok. As yet, it is unknown whether Loki, Odin or Hela will be returning to the franchise. But one character who will definitely be returning is Jane Foster, who is set to take on the mantle of Thor as the new wielder of Mjolnir.