Warning: MASSIVE spoilers ahead for Thor: Ragnarok! You've been warned!
Thor: Ragnarok has finally debuted, which means audiences have now laughed, cried, and generally had a phenomenal time with arguably the best Thor movie ever made. Taika Waititi has directed a tremendous self-contained story about destiny, family, and intergalactic gladiators, but in the grand scheme of things, it's only a stepping stone to something much more significant: Avengers: Infinity War.
With Thor: Ragnarok now in theaters and becoming a box office juggernaut, now is the time to dive in and discuss how this film will directly set up the events of Avengers: Infinity War. We have a few moments to get to, so let's kick this off by discussing how Loki's encounter with a familiar Infinity Stone will tie into the next Avengers movie.
Loki Steals The Tesseract
Ever since the end of Joss Whedon's The Avengers, the Tesseract has been safely nestled in Odin's trophy room on Asgard for safe-keeping. However, that changes in Thor: Ragnarok when Loki enters the vault during the mission to unleash Surtur and take Hela down. We see him stare longingly at the powerful, glowing cube when he enters the room, and the implication is that he smuggles it out in the confusion of Asgard's destruction. Early footage of Avengers: Infinity War has already confirmed that Loki will actually give the Tesseract to Thanos in the next major Marvel team-up, but it remains unclear if Loki is handing the cube over willingly, or if he's merely giving in so he can live to fight another day.
Banner May Be Gone
Banner's ability to switch back and forth from Bruce to Hulk without batting an eye is something that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken for granted over the last decade. Now, with Thor: Ragnarok, that may no longer be the case. Banner remained Hulked out on Sakaar for two years, and he made it very clear to Thor that one more episode could potentially give the green guy total control. That said, when push comes to shove, Banner decides to let Hulk take control to help defeat Hela -- but it's never truly established as to whether or not Bruce Banner can even come back at all. Mark Ruffalo has teased Ragnarok as the beginning of a trilogy for Banner, so the evolution of this struggle may play a prominent role during the events of Avengers: Infinity War.