God of Thunder in Popular Culture
Thor has been a part of pop culture since he was introduced in the 1960s, and his presence in media continues to be strong today.
The God of Thunder will once again grace the big screen on November 3. Thor: Ragnarok, The Avenger's hammer-wielding, thunder-casting deity, will save Asgard from the villainous Hela, and prevent the impending Ragnarok—the doom of the Asgardian civilization.
Thor has become one of the most popular mainstream superheroes under Marvel's pen. Despite the hundreds of Norse gods, and other fictional humans with ungodly powers, Thor is on top as one of the most recognizable superheroes of all time. His popularity has even led to Marvel creating a female version of Thor, and The Verge commended the new character in a recent article.
So why is Thor so popular and what makes him special?
Origins of Thor
Thor debuted on the Journey into Mystery #83 comics back in 1962. Thor was created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and scriptwriter Larry Lieber. According to Marvel's now Chairman Emeritus Lee, Thor was the result of the trio trying to come up with a superhero who could stand a chance against the strongest superhero that Marvel had ever imagined.
"How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person?" asked Lee. "It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends...so I picked Thor."
Thor In the 90s
Thor has had several battles with Loki but it was in the 90s when he killed the villainous Loki in single combat. Heimdall, who watched the battle unfold, thought that Thor was mad, so he banished the God of Thunder from Asgard. When Odin learned of what happened to his adoptive son, Loki, he forgave Thor.
It was also in the 90s when Thor seemed to have first partnered up with The Avengers and Fantastic Four to defeat a common foe in the form of Onslaught. Happening in an alternate universe, Thor was almost killed in battle, and if it wasn’t for Marnot’s healing powers, the storyline may have taken an unexpected twist.
The Modern Day Thor
Thor continues to help The Avengers whenever necessary, but perhaps his most interesting storyline was back in 2012 when he fought against the X-Men. In the comic books, he led the Secret Avengers into deep space to battle the Phoenix Force—an immortal and mutable manifestation of the prime universal force of life and passion—but lost. He was then captured and taken prisoner by the phoenix-enhanced duo Magik and Colossus. In an attempt to save Thor, Captain America formed The Avengers Unity Squad, a new team of Avengers composed of both the original X-Men members and Avengers.
Thor Outside the Comics
Thor has a large following outside the comic book realm thanks to his early animated show The Mighty Thor, which was aired back in the 60s. It is thanks to this animation that he now has a significant amount of baby boomers making up his fanbase, which has seen the rise of a number of digital games based on the popular character.
The Thor: God of Thunder game, which was released in 2011, soon became one of the most bought games on the Xbox 360, catapulting the hero to the forefront of superhero console gaming across the world. Fast forward to the present day and it’s evident that gaming providers have been inspired by the impressive sales figures that Marvel titles have recorded over the years. Spin Genie’s Thunderstruck II slot targets a similar demographic to Thor games as well as using Greek mythology in its design concepts. The success of the aforementioned Thor: God of Thunder Xbox 360 title will no doubt mean that consumers can expect a console version of the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok later this year.
Apart from the November release, Thor seems to be set to make an appearance in the looming Infinity Wars movie. In Doctor Strange's after-credit scenes, the two seem to be discussing a plan that Loki is hatching. If that scene is not a prelude to Infinity Wars, then fans may be looking at a Doctor Strange and Thor crossover in the future.