Is Thor Marvel? The early days of Marvel’s Thor? Thor Odinson is a character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by artist Jack Kirby, writer Stan Lee, and scripter Larry Lieber, the character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (August 1962), debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books. Thor is based on the Norse mythological god of the same name. He is the Asgardian god of thunder, whose enchanted hammer Mjolnir enables him to fly and manipulate weather, among his other superhuman attributes. A founding member of the superhero team the Avengers, Thor has a host of supporting characters and enemies.
Thor has starred in several ongoing series and limited series, and appears in all volumes of the Avengers series. The character has been used in Marvel Comics merchandise, animated television series, films, video games, clothing and toys.
Chris Hemsworth portrays the character in several Marvel Cinematic Universe films: Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Doctor Strange (2016, cameo), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Thor: Love and Thunder (2022). Alternative versions of the character appear in the Disney+ series What If…? (2021).
Is Thor Marvel?
It’s no secret that Marvel takes a lot of inspiration from various mythologies. The recent Disney Plus show Moon Knight is a great example of this, where the Egyptian gods and Egyptian mythology feature heavily in the story. One of the biggest mythological inspirations in the MCU, however, is the Thor storyline and its featuring of various figures and legends from Norse mythology. A lot of the characters and places that feature in Thor’s movies and comics are pulled from actual Norse myths, and they clearly take inspiration from the culture in various aspects.
Of course, the Thor movies are just loosely based on this mythology, just like the comics, add a lot of their own fantastical elements to make everything fit better within the Marvel universe. They might use the names and general powers of many of the god characters, but their mythological counterparts are very different from their portrayal in the MCU.
Obviously, one of the most basic changes is that the MCU versions of these characters are not in fact deities, but were rather aliens from another part of the universe that were interpreted as gods by the residents of Midgard (Earth). Which parts of Norse mythology did Marvel keep in their story, and which parts did they simply fabricate or change up?
The early days of Marvel’s Thor
Marvel Comics’ Thor was first introduced in 1963’s Journey Into Mystery #83. Since then, the hammer-wielding hero has starred in hundreds of issues of his own solo title, become a regular fixture of superhero team the Avengers, inspired dozens of spinoffs and limited series, and been depicted in several animated series and live-action films.
Clearly, there is something unique about Thor that’s made him last over the years, to the point where’s he’s placed in the upper echelon of Marvel heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America, and the Hulk — all of whom have slightly tidier beginnings.
“A big dude that likes hitting stuff is fun to watch,” says comic book editor and writer Nate Cosby, succinctly explaining the character’s Mjolnir-fueled appeal. “Visually, he’s Superman with a hammer. A strong, striking presence will buy a character a long shelf-life.”
Cosby, who oversaw one of the most critically acclaimed interpretations of Thor in the 2010 series Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, says there’s a simple central metaphor that makes him work, dating back to the character’s origin of being cast out of Asgard by his father, Odin.
“Thor’s a big whiny baby put in time-out,” Cosby says. “His whole life’s been non-stop grand adventures and doing whatever the hell he wanted, whenever the hell he wanted to do it. Then he makes an unconscionable, unfathomably stupid decision, so his dad’s gotta teach him a lesson.”
Thor as a god AND a superhero
It’s frequently said that superheroes are modern myths, and the fact that Thor is both a superhero and a mythological figure creates what Glass calls an “intriguing irony.”
“The irony is that they took a god hero of one age and made of him a hero god of our age, attributing to him the heroic virtues of the Marvel universe just as his creators had applied to him the virtues of their own culture,” says Glass, who wrote a promotional tie-in comic to the first Thor movie for Burger King, as well as a Thor mobile game.
For Ashley Miller, one of the screenwriters of the first Thor film, the title character’s position as both god and superhero accounts for much of the reason he’s stuck around for nearly 50 years.
“I think that he embodies a lot of qualities that you can associate with other heroes, but he embodies them uniquely,” Miller says. “When you think of the man who’s cast down to Earth, and he’s got the powers of a god, the first place you go to is Superman — but you take away Superman’s powers, and he’s just the guy who gets his ass kicked in Superman II in a bar.
“But Thor? You take away Thor’s powers, and you stick him in a cage with 50 guys — pick the 50 toughest guys you can find — Thor walks out alive. Those guys walk out, or maybe they don’t. He’s still cool, even if you take away his powers.”
He Was The Only Original Marvel Silver Age Hero Not Connected To Science
Stan Lee liked to write stories that had a contemporary feel to them and in the ’60s, science was the big thing. This was the height of the Cold War’s Space Race; technology was growing by leaps and bounds. Lee, Kirby, Ditko, and others tapped into this. Marvel’s raft of Silver Age heroes had a science bent of some kind, whether the characters were actually created by science or were scientists themselves.
Thor was an outlier, as he was the only one that had nothing to do with science. Kirby’s Asgard was a mind blowing sci-fi landscape, but Thor himself was a mythological figure brought into the present. This allowed different types of stories to be told with him, making him special.
He’s The Least Successful Monarch/Son Of A Monarch In The Marvel Universe
Marvel has a decent amount of characters who are royalty of some type, but Thor is quite different from the others. Black Panther is shown to not only be a competent ruler, but one of the best leaders on the planet. Even hotheaded Namor is portrayed as a great leader, albeit one who enjoys attacking the surface world whenever the whim hits him.
Thor is quite different in that he’s really, really bad at being a prince and a king. Thor has changed a lot over the years, but it’s never been good any time he’s taken power in Asgard. Thor is a warrior born, but he’s not a born leader.
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