First off, if you haven’t seen the new Thor film, I highly suggest it. It’s one of the best entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it contains one of the best scenes any fan could ask for: a battle between the God of Thunder and a giant, green rage monster. Without giving too much away, Thor is promised his freedom if he can best his captor’s “champion” in combat—it just so happens that champion is a super-angry Hulk. Trial by combat? Definitely.I've seen Thor: Ragnarok twice (it's fantastic), and I've written a fair amount about trial by combat (see blog posts here, here, and here and a peer reviewed (!?) article that I coauthored with my former classmate, Raj Shah here). After reflecting on the history, basis, and characteristics of historic (and even Game-of-Thrones-style) trial by combat, the fight between Thor and Hulk in the movie cannot be fairly characterized as an example of trial by combat.
Banner (what a name for a guy writing about a fight that involves the Hulk) decides to write his article without spoilers, which allows him to advance his claim behind a fog of uncertainty that maybe there are other events in the movie that make the fight into a trial by combat scenario. I'll get into the nitty-gritty of the events leading up to the fight in the movie after the break, so I guess there are some minor spoiler alerts for those who didn't watch the trailers and put two and two together.