The God of Thunder

This is part of a blog-hop in celebration of the release of FATE FORGOTTEN, Amalia Dillin’s latest novel.

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You would expect me to be a big Thor fan.  I’m a comics reader, after all. And I love me some Superman (a brave strongman) and Wonder Woman (a military strategist straight out of mythology), two archetypal heroes who struggle with the “otherness” of godhood status among the rank-and-file humans.  Thor seems to fall right in the middle of those two.

But truthfully? For the longest time I was pretty ignorant of the God of Thunder.  I didn’t read many Marvel comics or watch the old cartoons, outside of the iconic 90s X-Men, so I really didn’t know what to think of the Asgardian, outside of Chris Hemsworth with his passing Scandinavian looks and Aussie charm.  What’s a DC girl to do?

I sought out the help of my friend Jake Murray, who’s as knowledgeable about the Marvel-verse as anyone I know, to help me better understand why Thor is awesome.

As a Superman fan, one of the facts I’m resigned to is that Big Blue just isn’t very popular these days.  His personality often feels stuck in the past with a 3-pack-a-day 40’s radio personality narrating his exploits. He’s relatively uncomplicated, the morally black-and-white Boy Scout whose sense of justice often reaches only as far as his fists.  And let’s be honest, the reboot attempts haven’t done him any favors.  He’s an alien space god living among us, and he’ll never be Batman. Okay, okay. we get it.

Yet Thor is an alien space god, and much beloved.  What gives?  Where does this love come from?

“Thor is more engaging than Superman in a variety of ways,” says Jake.  “While his flaws make him endearing, Thor is also a blowhard who enjoys fighting and battle in all of its forms. Even when life itself is on the line, Thor meets the danger with a grin and a boisterous comment. His penchant for outmoded English phrasing and sheer bravado serve only to enhance the image of a God without fear. Yet, he DOES know fear, for his friends and family who might become endangered and for those less resilient than himself, such as the people of Earth.”

Thor has a personality as big as his biceps, that’s certainly true.  But Supes also doesn’t want the people of Earth to get hurt. So, aside from the feathered helmet, where’s the distinction?

“Thor is constantly the member of the Avengers who is designated for protecting bystanders during any major battle.”

Hm, interesting. Putting one of the heavy hitters on defense and crowd control, that’s not something you see Superman often doing.  Go on…

“The most interesting difference though, is that Thor’s threats are never empty. If the God of Thunder decides that any means necessary must be used he will use them, quite often to devastating effect. Thor has even been the end of other members of the Avengers (like The Sentry).”

Now that sounds like Wonder Woman.

Tactically, Superman is the equivalent of a bare-knuckle boxer. But Wonder Woman is a military strategist, a field general. Wonder Woman knows when to show compassion, and she knows when to crush an enemy.  When a rampaging Superman was being controlled by the turncoat telepath Max Lord and Wonder Woman used her lasso of truth on him, Max was compelled to tell her “The only way to stop him is to kill me.”  So she looked Max in the eye, and snapped his neck. Out of all the DC’s Big Three, Wonder Woman can do what needs to be done.

Okay, I’m starting to see some aspects come together for why Thor is such a great hero. He’s got the solid mythology background and all the magical powers that come with that status; he’s rambunctious and loud, commanding the attention of a room.  And he’s more than just the “team strongman” in comics.  I’m convinced he’s got the appeal for fans of both Superman and Wonder Woman. But what about the biggest DC rival, the last of the Big Three: Gotham’s dark knight?

Well, for this, I can see even Batman turn a bit green with envy.  Because Thor’s got some toys of his own.

“Mjolnir is a weapon that only he can wield,” says Jake, “allowing him to drop it on even Superman and pin him to the floor until such time as Thor decides to call Mjolnir back.”

This reason, I like it. Another!

“Thor also has control over lighting and storms which makes him far better suited to large scale engagements than most other strongmen,” Jake adds.  “Between his lightning magic and Mjolnir he has significantly more ranged capability than many bruiser types, as well as significantly more battle experience and tactical learning.”

So in a fight, Thor seems pretty well rounded.

But a character has to be someone readers can relate to.  The draw of many Marvel heroes, as opposed to DC heroes, is the accessibility of the characters: weaknesses, struggles with daily life, and a lack of acceptance from the general populace.  Thor, as an alien space god with an omnipotent weapon, seems to buck that trend.  What gives?

“Thor might buck the trend on first glance, but upon examination, you come to see that he is as flawed, perhaps MORE so than many other Marvel heroes. While his enmity with his brother Loki is well documented, less so are the conflicts he has had with many other Asgardians, such as Amora the Enchantress [and her bodyguard Skurge the Executioner] and his father Odin.

“Thor’s strained relationship with his father and his extreme egotism are the reason for his banishment to Midgard to begin with, and though Thor has reigned in his overweening pride somewhat, he remains boisterous, oft times a braggart, and at times extremely violent. Even his short time as King of Asgard is marred by the fact that it ended with that land shattered and its inhabitants banished to Midgard within mortal bodies.”

And so Thor, for all of his sheer awesomeness, must struggle with one of the most classic of character flaws.  In his case, pride quite literally goes before a fall.  For despite all his powers and his prowess, Thor had to overcome obstacles that he himself created.  One of my first associations with Thor is Anthony Hopkins as Odin, scolding him as “a vain, greedy, cruel boy” before stripping him of all his gifts.  Only through redemption, through maturity and compassion, only through growing his inner strength could he earn back his outer strength.

As Jake says, “Many of his story lines are very human and real, making him extremely relatable, despite his Godhood.”

Making amends for our past mistakes is something we can all relate to.

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I asked Jake a few other questions.

How were you first introduced to the character? 

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Cartoon and the movie Thor.

What was your favorite story arc of his?

Probably the Casket of Ancient Winters and his battle with Malekith the Accursed to save Midgard and the Nine Realms from Eternal Winter back in 1984.

Pretend you had been put in charge of the upcoming Thor movie and given carte blanche to make whatever you wanted.  What would you do with it?

I would have used Amora the Enchantress and Skurge the Executioner as villains, allowing Amora (who has been trying to bed Thor since the sixties) to kidnap Jane Foster and force Thor to have to battle not only Skurge, but Amora’s magical traps and enchantments to reach her and save the day.

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Find more of the #ThorLove BlogHop here, running from 11/5-11/8, and be sure to check out the new Thor movie, as well as Amalia Dillin’s new book from World Weaver Press!