En Dwi Gast (Grandmaster)

Third and last character appearing in the first bunch of promo pics from Thor: Ragnarok, this time (possibly) a villain…even if it’s more likely he’ll play a somewhat neutral role like the only other Elder of the Universe we met so far, the Collector. We’re of course speaking of the Grandmaster, portrayed by Jeff Goldblum. In the movie, he’ll be the organizer of the gladiatorial games on planet Sakaar, where both Thor and Hulk will end up fighting. Nothing more is known about him as for now, apart from the fact that he’ll be in some sort of business agreement with the Valkyrie. Waiting to see the Elder in his first live action appearance, let’s take a look at his original counterpart…quite an old guy, with an age matching the universe’s one.

As with all the Elders of the Universe, the Grandmaster’s true origins are lost in time. His true name was En Dwi Gast, and he was the sole survivor of a race just a little bit younger than the big bang that generated the current universe. Gaining immortality through undisclosed means, En Dwi Gast outlived his entire species and even the galaxy his homeplanet resided in, starting to travel the universe and to achieve a power that grew over the millennia. In time, he met other people like him, immortal beings that were the sole survivors of their respective species, and they started to consider themselves like brothers and sisters: the Elders of the Universe. Immortality could be quite a burden with nothing to do, so each one of the Elders found a hobby to dedicate his or her infinite time to, turning it into an obsession. En Dwi Gast didn’t care for astronomy, collections or fighting: the one thing he wanted to excell in was playing games, both skill and chance games from all around the universe (or even the multiverse, sometimes). He started calling himself the Grandmaster, and tested his skills with the most different games from every corner of the cosmos. In a few centuries, the Grandmaster became addicted to this new hobby of his, and he explored and studied thousands of worlds, searching for new sources of amusement and mastering every single game he ran into. Inevitably, a time came in which he had tried everything that a mortal or immortal mind had conceived, and the risk of seeing his passion wither appeared for the first time in eons…but the problem was one of easy solution: if there were no more games in the universe to play, he would have invented his own, involving other willing (and unwilling) players from all the galaxies, staging contexts, challenges and tournaments. The Grandmaster started using exceptional beings found on many planets as contestants to his own game, and it didn’t pass much time before he decided that, with higher stakes, the game would have been more thrilling and enjoyable: most of the times, in fact, his games had the players’ very lives at stake.

Sometimes, this “ecceptional beings” were just pawns in games held between the Grandmaster and some other cosmic being: when he travelled to Earth-712, one of the many in the multiverse, the Grandmaster challenged the Scarlet Centurion in a match that had both of them chose some superpowered beings and put them one against the other in a lethal chessgame. The Centurion gathered some of that Earth‘s deadliest villains in the Institute of Evil, while the Grandmaster placed his bet on the Squadron Supreme, that emerged victorious; the game was so satisfying that, upon returning to Earth-616, the Grandmaster created some replicas of the Squadron to be used as pawns in future games. He took three regular men, Kyle RichmondKinji Obatu and James Sanders, and transformed them into his reality’s versions of NighthawkDoctor Spectrum and Whizzer, and he shaped from raw matter his own version of Hyperion: these four warriors became his Squadron Sinister and, eager to test his new toys, he travelled to the future to meet an alternate version of the Scarlet Centurion, Kang the Conqueror. Kang’s beloved, Ravonna, had just died, and the Conqueror was mourning her, wishing for the power to bring her back: the Grandmaster appeared and offered him that power…if he could beat him in his own game. He gave Kang one year to gather a team to put against his Squadron Sinister. Kang kidnapped the Avengers, and in a series of 1 on 1 battles he chose Thor, Captain America, Goliath and Iron Man to fight against the Squadron. The Avengers nearly won all their battles, but the fourth one was interrupted by an unaware Black Knight, so the Grandmaster interrupted the game for an infringement of the rules. He called for a second round, this time chosing the 1940s Invaders as his champions: Captain America, the Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner had to face Kang’s champions, Black Panther, Vision and Yellowjacket…and this time, the Avengers’ victory was absolute. After the game, the Grandmaster granted Kang either the power of death or the one of life, and when the Avengers tried to threaten him into sending them back home, Kang gave up on the possibility to resurrect Ravonna to kill his enemies. The Grandmaster granted him the power of death over the Avengers, as another entertaining game was about to begin…

En Dwi Gast is an extremely ancient being, with an intellect far exceeding the one of other beings; like all the Elders, he nurtures a monomaniacal obsession that keeps him alive and (more or less) sane, his one being games, all kinds of which he has mastered. As the Grandmaster, he manipulates the Power Primordial (the energy left from the Big Bang) to grant himself superhuman strength, durability, stamina, speed, agility, senses and reflexes, as well as immortality, to obtain psionic powers such as telepathy or telekinesis, and to manipulate energy to a molecular level, thus being capable of pretty much anything; his trademark tool is the Tri-Sphere, through which he can teleport himself and others anywhere in time and/or space. A being of untold power, immortal and invulnerable, the Grandmaster’s only enemy is boredom: to fight it, he conceives always newer and more lethal games, whose participants aren’t always exactly eager to take part to…

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1 Comment

  1. […] House, in fact, has been officially credited as Topaz, the intimidating woman standing by Grandmaster‘s side and acting as his bodyguard, and Topaz is a familiar name to the comics’ […]


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