Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is one of the three sons of Odin, the chief god of Norse paganism. He yields the mighty hammer Mjolnir to fight off Giants and has to wear Megingjord, a magic belt, and Jarn Griepr, the iron gloves, to be able to lift the hammer. The short-handled hammer has become one of the most iconic signs in Norse paganism. Adding to that image of a Pagan God is his chariot that is pulled by the two goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr. With a lot of ruse and cunning, Thor solved the challenges posed before him (he once had to dress like a woman to trick the king of the Giants). But at the end, when everything else failed, he could rely on his strength and his mighty weapon.
Thursday was named after Thor, along with other Norse gods whose names were used to form the days of the week. Friday is named after Freyja. Wednesday is named after Odin (Wodanaz / “Wotan” in German).
With all the heroic stories of mythological gods, it is not really a coincidence that Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby got the idea to turn Thor into a comic character and superhero.
Marvel Comics first introduced Thor in Journey into Mystery #83 in August 1962. After that he continued his journey in “The Mighty Thor”, a 13-page feature.
The young god Thor is sent to Earth by his father, Odin, to learn how to be humble and therefore is placed in the human form of the partially disabled medical student, Donald Blake, with no memories of his divine abilities. Thor later on discovers his powers and discovers his compassion and loyalty for the human race. He sees himself as the protector of Midgard (Earth) and has to fight all kinds of supervillains, like the Destroyer, the Midgard Serpent or Mangog. His nemesis remains to be his adopted brother Loki, who has hated Thor since they were children. In his fight against his enemies, Thor manages to find allies and becomes part of the group called “The Avengers”.
Thor’s adventures have later on, after discovering his true identity and powers, been of epic proportions and therefore his enemies were in a different league than those an earthly hero like Spider-Man, Flash or Iron Man had to face.
That is exactly what I really like about the Thor comics. Thor being a god, you could not just send the Green Goblin or the Mandarin after him. He would crush them in the blink of an eye. A god needs devine enemies, like the God Eater, Thanos, Mephisto, Ego the Living Planet and the Dark Gods are much scarier foes than we are usually used to in the Marvel universe. The Thor’s battles against these adversaries are often epic- the ideal material for a blockbuster movie in the times of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Dark Knight.
Thor – The Movie
It took nearly 50 years to bring Thor to the big screen and I hope it will not disappoint. In 2010, the blond Norse god and his hammer Mjolnir will have their feature film. There is not much information available on this project. And the discussion about the actor to play Thor has already started. Next to Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and Karl Urban, actors who have played a mythological hero, the dark knight and a Norse fighter (all very important characteristics of Thor), the wrestler HHH (brute vampire in Blade:Trinity) was considered to play the main character.
I personnally would have liked a young Vladimir Kulich to play Thor. I have never seen a Norse clan chief die with such dignity on his own throne as Kulich in “The 13th Warrior“. But with his 52 years, he might already be too old for the part. I guess that depends on what part of Thor’s life will be shown. Or why not have Til Schweiger (King Arthur), the German Hollywood actor, have a crack at it. We’ll see…