Although Marvel’s rendition of Thor retains many aspects of the original Norse mythology, it’s unsurprising that the writers changed a few key elements of these ancient myths in order to bring them into the world of superheroes.
There are obvious things, like the addition of spaceships, shawarma joints, and enormous green rage monsters. But there are many subtler alterations Marvel made to these Scandinavian stories that might go unnoticed by the untrained eye.
Updated on July 21st, 2021 by George Chrysostomou: The God of Thunder continues to play a vital role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but when it comes to Thor’s Norse Mythology there are a number of differences between the comic book iteration of the character and the original deity. Although Marvel tries to carry over as many authentic elements as they can, the modern take on Thor continues to become more removed from Norse Mythology in a number of ways as his story evolves further.
12 Red Hair And A Beard
Nowadays, when you picture the god of thunder, it’s probably the piercing blue eyes and golden blonde hair of Chris Hemsworth that come to mind. But in the original myths, Thor didn’t have the flowing blonde, Loreal-smooth hair that he has in the Marvel comics.
Traditionally, Thor is red-haired and red-bearded. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did initially consider a red-headed version of Thor, but ultimately, decided to go with their own design of the character, one that Mr. Hemsworth does an impeccable job of bringing to life (especially the “pec” part).
11 Loki Is Hela’s Father, Not Odin
Although Loki may not seem like the parent type, he fathers many children in the original Thor Norse myths. Unsurprisingly, his offspring are a rather unsavory bunch, particularly the three borne to him by the giantess Angrboda. In addition to the world serpent Jörmungandr and the wolf Fenrir (yes, Fenrir Greyback from Harry Potter was named after him), Loki also sired Hel, the goddess of death.
It was believed that warriors who died in battle were taken to feast in Valhalla with Odin, but perishing by illness or old age meant spending an eternity in the icy underworld with Hel. This contrasts the Marvel movies, in which Hela is supposed to be Odin’s daughter. Plus, she’s portrayed by the radiant Cate Blanchett in the films, but in the original myths, half of her face is supposed to be beautiful… with the other half as dead as Nearly Headless Nick.
10 Loki Doesn’t Help Thor During Ragnarok
In the film Thor: Ragnarok, Loki finally redeems himself, embracing the better angels of his nature and fighting alongside Thor in the final battle. But in the original myths about Ragnarok, the devil on Loki’s shoulder wins out and he allies himself against the other gods.
He chooses not only to fight against Thor, but also to lead an army of the dead to attack Asgard, crossing the line from a troubled antihero into an outright villain. In the Marvel films, Loki may dance around this line, but he never quite crosses it. Rather, it’s Hela who ends up leading an army of the dead into Asgard.
9 Loki Is Not Thor’s Adopted Brother
The strained relationship between Thor and Loki is core to the Marvel movies. If it weren’t for his difficult relationship with his brother, Loki never would have attacked Earth, the Avengers wouldn’t have assembled, and we never would have found out how good of a chaser shawarma is for alien invasions.
But in the original mythology, Loki is no brother to Thor. In the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturlson, Loki is actually a step-brother of Odin’s. But a troubled relationship between brothers makes for a more compelling storyline than the relationship between a god and his… step-uncle? So we can understand why they went their way.
8 His Supporting Characters Are Marvel Originals
It’s really important for Thor to have a number of supporting characters to bounce off of. While the mythology has a great number of supporting players who have been introduced into the comics, Marvel also felt like they needed their own creations for the purpose of the story being told.
Completely independent of Thor’s Norse Mythology, characters like The Warriors Three, Enchantress, and Skurge The Executioner, were all original creations for Marvel Comics. Often these new villains and heroes were created for a specific story but have stood the test of time, both in the source material and on screen.
7 Mjolnir Doesn’t Let Thor Fly
In the films, we often see Thor swing his hammer around and take off after it like a rocket launching into space. But in the original mythology, Mjölnir does not grant Thor the ability to fly. Rather, it’s his chariot, drawn by the two goats Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder, that allows him to soar through the skies like a lightning bolt.
Although flying around with the god of thunder probably sounds like a great career for the likes of a goat, the job does come with its drawbacks. Unfortunately for the poor goats, Thor has been known to slaughter Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder for supper. But, to be fair, he always makes sure to resurrect them the next day using his hammer.
6 Thor Marries Goddess Sif
Unsurprisingly, Thor does not in fact date an American astrophysicist named Jane Foster in traditional Norse mythology. Rather, he is married to Sif, the goddess of the harvest. Interestingly, it is Sif, not Thor, who is known for her flowing golden hair in the original myths.
And, like Thor couldn’t stand the idea of a haircut in Thor: Ragnarok, Sif falls into a depression after Loki cuts her hair off as a prank. Eventually, after some rather forceful persuasion from Thor (the only kind of persuasion Thor is capable of), Loki gets the dwarves to make Sif new hair, similarly to how Eitri made Thor a new god-killing weapon in Avengers: Infinity War (but a little less epic).
5 Thor Has Other Names
Thor is usually referred to by his name, the Worthy/Unworthy One, The Mighty One, or as Odinson in the comics and MCU. But the God of Thunder has a variety of other titles and aliases in the original Norse Mythology which haven’t really been used on the page or screen.
Each of the names has a translation that often refers to a characteristic of Thor. Björn for instance meant bear, while Hlórriði meant the weather god. Some have multiple meanings such as Harðhugaðr, which refers to powerful ego but also strong spirit; it can even be used to describe the strength of the wind.
4 Thor Needs Gloves To Wield His Hammer
In the Marvel films, Thor needs nothing but his own worthiness to wield Mjölnir. But in the original myths, he requires Járngreipr, a special set of gloves, to be able to use his hammer. Alongside Mjölnir and Megingjörð (a mystical belt that increases his strength), these gloves are supposed to be one of Thor’s three most crucial possessions. However, they’re not included in the films.
Although the reference was brief, the belt Megingjörð actually is used by Marvel’s version of Thor. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, it was revealed that the belt was being shipped for storage at the New Avengers Facility. While listing off items for packing, Happy Hogan tries to pronounce the belt’s name, eventually giving up and just calling it “Thor’s magic belt.”
3 During Ragnarok, Thor And Loki Die
At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Thor, and Loki both survive Surtur’s attack on Asgard and fly off in their spaceship unharmed. But this isn’t how Ragnarok went down in the original myths. In fact, pretty much every well-known god is supposed to die during Ragnarok, including Thor, Loki, Odin, and Heimdall meaning there’s a huge difference in the fight between Thor mythology vs Marvel.
Plus, Surtur sets not just Asgard on fire, but the entire universe, leaving only a handful of gods and two humans alive to restart civilization. But if this had happened in the Marvel films, there wouldn’t have been much left for Thanos to do, so we get why the writers decided to… well, not light the whole universe on fire.
2 There Is No Mighty Thor
Another original Marvel creation is Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor. In the original mythology, it’s rare for someone to possess the power of Thor by simply picking up Mjolnir. However, Marvel has demonstrated that the likes of Captain America and Vision have access to those abilities if they so chose it.
In the comics and in Thor: Love And Thunder, Jane Foster picks up Mjolnir and becomes the Mighty Thor. This is a completely unique narrative and while it’s exciting for fans of the character and this fantasy world, no such thing ever happened in Norse culture.
1 Not Just A Thunder God
The comics have really pitched Thor as the God of Thunder and that’s how fans mostly refer to him. The MCU has continued on that trend, only adding a few abilities to his repertoire, or copying most of the same powers that have been seen in the comics.
However, in Norse Mythology Thor is the God of a number of other things as well. He is the God of tides and weather and thanks to his environmental abilities has also been associated with farming and the harvest. He is even the God of Oak Trees and the wood is usually attributed to him in some way.
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