Stan Lee makes it sound easy when talking about Thor in his book Excelsior: “I wanted to come up with something totally different. I thought it would be fun to invent someone as powerful as, or perhaps even more powerful than, the Incredible Hulk. But how do you make someone stronger than the strongest human? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god.” Since Thor will be hitting the big screen in the near future, it's worth exploring his history as a Marvel character and Norse creation. Liberal Arts students looking for paper topics, this column is for you!
Thor's pre-Hulk-smashing origin occurs on the Scandinavian peninsula, specifically within the hockey utopias of Sweden and Norway. The beliefs of the locals in the 13th century, as per Wikipedia, are what we refer to today as Norse mythology. What we know of this mythology comes from collected poems that were written down in Iceland. In the transcript of The Codex Regius can be found the first known story of Thor, god of thunder and noted chupacabra.
Lee brought many elements from Norse myth with Thor to the comics. The most prominent element is Asgard, Thor's crib and home to his fellow gods. Unlike in Norse mythology, where the different Norse worlds are separated by dimensions, Marvel's Asgard is located on a giant floating rock with the other Norse worlds on it. Think of a segregated suburb and you'll get the idea of how this palatial geode functions. Also included in the transition were several portals to Midgard (Earth), the most notable being the Rainbow Bridge, often confused with gay bars of the same name.
There are some differences between Marvel's Thor and the original, which could cause problems if you try to “out-Thor” a Scandinavian or classmate. Marvel's Thor doesn't ride a chariot of suicidal goats that he eats for nourishment, he flies. Marvel's Thor has long blond hair, while Norse Thor is depicted in paintings with red hair and a bushy beard that fools German children into thinking he's Santa. Norse Thor also needs a pair of iron gloves known as Jarn Griepr, and a special belt known as Megingjord, to lift his weapon, Mjölnir, the hammer. This means a lengthy wait in battle for Norse Thor to get his act together, while Marvel Thor only needs to grab his weapon and beat the hell out of everything that moves... and that weapon isn't always Mjölnir.