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Thor Odinson is a character portrayed by Chris Hemsworth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. In the films, Thor is known as the "God of Thunder", and is one of the most powerful of the Asgardians, an alien civilization with long ties to Earth, who are therefore considered by some on Earth to be gods.

Thor
Marvel Cinematic Universe character
Chris Hemsworth as Thor.jpg
Thor, as portrayed by Chris Hemsworth in Thor: The Dark World (2013)
First appearanceThor (2011)
Created by
Based onThor
Adapted by
Portrayed by
Information
Full nameThor Odinson
SpeciesAsgardian
TitleGod of Thunder
Occupation
  • King of Asgard (formerly)
  • Prince of Asgard (formerly)
Affiliation
Family
  • Odin (father; deceased)
  • Frigga (mother; deceased)
  • Hela (sister; deceased)
  • Loki (adopted brother; deceased)
Home

Thor's character has borrowed a number of characteristics and story lines from across the more than fifty-year history of the character in Marvel Comics. Unlike his comic book version, however, MCU Thor has no superhero "alter ego".[1] The Asgardians have advanced science that seems like magic to the people of Earth, as shown by Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, which can channel Thor's ability to wield lightning. After Mjölnir is destroyed in the events of Thor: Ragnarok, however, Thor himself helps forge Stormbreaker, an axe channeling the Bifrost, allowing him to effectively travel across the universe at will. This is another point of difference between the films and the comic books, where Stormbreaker was forged under the command of Thor's father, Odin.

As of 2019, the character is a central figure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having appeared in eight films of the series (including a brief cameo in Doctor Strange). Although the first two Thor films have been among the less well-liked films in the MCU canon, Thor: Ragnarok, with its substantial reinvention of the character, has been held up as one of the best Marvel films. Following its release, a reviewer from The Mary Sue has argued that Thor "has the best character arc of nearly every other MCU character, including costars Tony Stark and Steve Rogers".[2]

Contents

Concept, creation, and characterizationEdit

Thor debuted as a Marvel Comics superhero in the science fiction/fantasy anthology title Journey into Mystery #83 (cover-date August 1962), created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller-plotter Jack Kirby.[3] Kirby said, "I created Thor at Marvel because I was forever enamored of legends, which is why I knew about Balder, Heimdall, and Odin. I tried to update Thor and put him into a superhero costume, but he was still Thor."[4] Lee and Kirby included Thor in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963) as a founding member of the superhero team.[5] A live-action television adaptation of the comic book character first appeared in the 1988 television film The Incredible Hulk Returns.[6] Live-action film adaptations of the character were thereafter proposed, but did not come to fruition. In the mid-2000s, Kevin Feige realized that Marvel still owned the rights to the core members of the Avengers, which included Thor. Feige, a self-professed "fanboy", envisioned creating a shared universe just as creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had done with their comic books in the early 1960s.[7]

Mark Protosevich, a fan of the Thor comic book, agreed to write the script in April 2006, and the project moved to Paramount Pictures, after it acquired the rights from Sony.[8] In December 2007, Protosevich described his plans for it "to be like a superhero origin story, but not one about a human gaining super powers, but of a god realizing his true potential. It's the story of an Old Testament god who becomes a New Testament god".[9] Marvel Studios signed Matthew Vaughn to direct the film.[10] Vaughn then rewrote Protosevich's script in order to reduce the budget.[11] Vaughn was later released, and in September 2008, Kenneth Branagh entered into negotiations to direct,[12] and by December 2008, Branagh confirmed that he had been hired. He described it as "a human story right in the center of a big epic scenario."[13] In October 2008, Daniel Craig was offered the role, but ultimately turned it down, citing his commitments to the James Bond franchise.[14]

In May 2009, Chris Hemsworth was in negotiations to portray the title role after a back-and-forth process in which the 25-year-old actor was refused early on, then given a second chance to read for the part. Hemsworth's brother, Liam also auditioned for the role, but was passed on by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige.[15] Feige mentioned that the film would take place on both modern day Earth and Asgard but Thor's human host, Dr. Donald Blake, would not be included.[16] Hemsworth stated that he gained 20 pounds for the role by eating non-stop and revealed that "It wasn't until Thor that I started lifting weights, it was all pretty new to me."[17]

CharacterizationEdit

Regarding his take on the character, Hemsworth said, "We just kept trying to humanize it all, and keep it very real. Look into all the research about the comic books that we could, but also bring it back to 'Who is this guy as a person, and what's his relationship with people in the individual scenes?'"[18] About approaching Thor's fighting style, he remarked, "First, we looked at the comic books and the posturing, the way [Thor] moves and fights, and a lot of his power seems to be drawn up through the ground. We talked about boxers, you know, Mike Tyson, very low to the ground and big open chest and big shoulder swings and very sort of brutal but graceful at the same time, and then as we shot stuff things became easier."[19] Dakota Goyo portrays a young Thor in the first film.

 
Chris Hemsworth at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.

For The Avengers, Hemsworth said that he was able to maintain the strength he built up for Thor by increasing his food intake, consisting of chicken breasts, fish, steak, and eggs every day. When asked exactly how much, Hemsworth said, "My body weight in protein pretty much!"[20] He remarked that Thor's motivation "is much more of a personal one, in the sense that it's his brother that is stirring things up. Whereas everyone else, it's some bad guy who they've gotta take down. It's a different approach for me, or for Thor. He's constantly having to battle the greater good and what he should do vs. it's his little brother there. . . I've been frustrated with my brothers at times, or family, but I'm the only one who is allowed to be angry at them. There's a bit of that."[21]

According to Hemsworth, in Thor: The Dark World, "for Thor and Jane, there are some unanswered questions now, since obviously he didn't stop in and catch up with her in The Avengers. Thor might have some explaining to do in this one. And with Loki, we get down to the major bones of our conflict with everything that's come from Thor to Avengers to now".[22] Hemsworth added, "Thor's journey I think picks more so up from where we left the first one—About to take on the throne... and now coming to the realization of what responsibility comes with that. Also, Alan [Taylor] keeps talking about the dark side of that responsibility, and the secrets of being king or becoming sort of very political about what people need to know and what they want to know."[23] Hemsworth especially enjoyed the role of Thor in this film as he was able to, "... break him down and find his human qualities and his vulnerable side."[24]

Hemsworth stated that Age of Ultron shows Thor as having remained on Earth since the events of The Dark World, and has begun to feel at home here, therefore considering Ultron's threat a personal attack.[25] Hemsworth stated that he had to work harder to bring new elements to the character to avoid repeating himself saying that it "gave us room to kind of make him a little more grounded and human and have him in some civilian clothes and mixing it up at a party".[26] Hemsworth noted that Thor's motivations in this film were completely different, as it was the first MCU film where he did not play against Loki.[27]

By the events of Thor: Ragnarok, Thor has become a "lone gunslinger" searching for the Infinity Stones.[28][29] Hemsworth had become "a bit bored" with the character by this time, and wanted to take some risks and experiment: the character has shorter hair in the film, wears a different outfit, his hammer Mjolnir is destroyed,[30] and he loses an eye. Director Taika Waititi added that "stripping" the character down like this allowed him to become a refugee at the end of the film.[31] Waititi also wanted to use more of Hemsworth's comedic talents showcased in films like Vacation (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016),[32] and cited Kurt Russell's portrayal of Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China (1986) as an influence on the character.[33]

The events of Infinity War come right on the heels of Ragnarok, finding Thor in a "very profound... very interesting place" with "real emotional motivation".[34] At the recommendation of Hemsworth, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely consulted Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi and screenwriter Eric Pearson to help carry over the comedic and tragic elements of the re-toned Thor from that film.[35] Joe Russo said that Thor has "the driving hero's arc of the movie which stands in direct opposition to Thanos' argument" and would have been the main protagonist of the film had Thor killed Thanos.[36] Thor's character in Infinity War has been criticized as a step backwards from his portrayal in his previous appearance in Ragnarok. Thor learns in Ragnarok that his power does not come from Mjolnir, only to spend the bulk of Infinity War pursuing the creation of a new, more powerful weapon.[37]

Following his failure to kill Thanos in Infinity War, Thor becomes an overweight, drunken ruler of Asgard's refugees in Tønsberg, Norway. Referencing this drastic character change, Hemsworth said, "I just had an opinion. I wanted to do something different this time. Each film I’ve wanted to, in particular, the last couple, and they were on board," and added, "We shot for many hours and days and discussed how far could we push (Thor) and what we could do different."[38] Anthony Russo added, "Even though there's a lot of fun to be had in the movie with his physical condition, it's not a gag. It's a manifestation of where he is on a character level, and we think it's one of the most relatable aspects of him. I mean, it's a very common sort of response to depression and pain."[39] Thor's story was his favorite arc, saying, “Part of Chris’ magic as a comedic actor is his dedication to the depth of the character on a very earnest level...It’s so devious and subversive when comedy is coming from a place of complete commitment and emotional complexity."[40] Hemsworth underwent around three hours of hair and makeup for the transformation, which also required him to wear a large silicone prosthetic suit; he called himself "Lebowski Thor" on set.[41] Thor was initially supposed to revert back to his "old chiseled self" in the middle of Endgame, but Hemsworth successfully argued in favour of retaining Thor's aged physique.[41]

Thor is noted to have a number of character flaws, which occasionally drive events in the MCU. He is initially impulsive, invading Jotunheim, the home of the frost giants, in the first film. This leads directly to Odin banishing him to Earth, and indirectly to Loki's attempt as overthrowing Asgard after Loki learns that he was born a frost giant and adopted by Odin. It is noted, however, that from this experience, Thor "emerges a more humble warrior".[2] The events of Thor also lead to Loki encountering Thanos, in whose service Loki invades Earth in The Avengers. Although Thor's arrogance has been tempered since his first film, he still shows flashes of impulsiveness such as when he attacks Steve Rogers at their first meeting in The Avengers.[1]

Analysis of the character from a feminist perspective has noted that Thor "might be a hotheaded braggart, but he never demeans women", a sharp contrast with the womanizing Tony Stark.[2]

Appearance and special effectsEdit

Thor's appearance has changed from each film to the next. For the first film, Visual Development Supervisor Charlie Wen focused on mixing elements from the comic books with Norse mythology in creating Thor's costume, keeping the six disk-shaped adornments on his upper body, but "trying to maintain the Norse side of things" as much as possible.[42] The first design element that Wen attempted was Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, for which Wen created a number of possible alternatives, incorporating designs including "the traditional Thor hammer with the short handle as well as the Ultimates versions", from which the one Branagh chose "was the most traditional one".[42] For The Avengers, Thor's costume was modified slightly to fit in better with other members of the team, and to make his movements and appearance in casual scenes more natural, with changes including enhancing the blue tones in the costume, and reducing the size of Thor's cape.[43] Various efforts to depict Thor dressed in "street clothes" like people of Earth have been criticized as having him look like "an extra in Cameron Crowe's Singles".[44] The most significant change to Thor's appearance occurs in Thor: Ragnarok, where Thor's long hair is cut short, his hammer is destroyed, and he is dressed as a gladiator in a battle-tattered costume for his combat with Hulk. The changes were suggested by Hemsworth, who had tired of repeatedly playing the character the same way in previous appearances, and agreed to by director Taika Waititi.[45] In Avengers: Endgame, after the five-year time gap, Thor has become an overweight drunkard, and is depicted with long hair and an overgrown beard.

AppearancesEdit

Feature filmsEdit

Fictional character biographyEdit

Origins and first visit to EarthEdit

As Thor prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard after his father, Odin, frost giants attempt to retrieve an artifact captured by Odin in a war centuries before. Against Odin's order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Frost Giant leader Laufey, accompanied by his brother Loki, childhood friend Sif and the Warriors Three: Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun. A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor's arrogance, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him to Earth as a mortal, accompanied by Mjolnir which he can no longer wield.

Thor lands in New Mexico, meeting astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster. Thor resigns himself to exile on Earth as he develops a romance with Jane. Loki seizes the throne, and the Warriors Three and Sif find Thor, but the Destroyer attacks and defeats them, prompting Thor to offer himself instead. Struck by the Destroyer and near death, Thor's selflessness proves him worthy to wield Mjolnir. The hammer returns to him, restoring his powers and enabling him to defeat the Destroyer. Thor returns to Asgard and fights Loki before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki's plans, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss, but Loki appears to fall when Odin rejects his pleas for approval. Thor makes amends with Odin, admitting he is not ready to be king.

Joining the AvengersEdit

Loki later ends up on Earth, causing havoc until he is captured by Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Steve Rogers (Captain America). Thor arrives and frees Loki, hoping to convince him to abandon his plan and return to Asgard. After a brief fight with Stark and Rogers, Thor agrees to take Loki to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s flying aircraft carrier, the Helicarrier. Agents possessed by Loki attack the Helicarrier, disabling one of its engines in flight and causing Bruce Banner to transform into the Hulk. Thor attempts to stop the Hulk's rampage, and both are ejected from the airship as Loki escapes. Loki opens a wormhole over New York City to allow a Chitauri army to invade, and Thor and the other Avengers rally in defense of the city. Once the Chitauri are defeated, Thor returns Loki and a source of power called the Tesseract to Asgard.

Battle with the Dark ElvesEdit

After bringing the Nine Realms to peace, Thor and his fellow warriors learn that the Convergence of the realms is imminent, with portals linking the worlds appearing at random. Heimdall alerts Thor that Jane Foster has left his near all-seeing vision, leading Thor to Earth.

Jane inadvertently releases an unearthly force, and Thor returns with her to Asgard. Odin recognizes this force as a weapon known as the Aether, warning that it will kill Jane, and that its return heralds a catastrophic prophecy. The Dark Elves, let by Malekith, attack Asgard, searching for Jane. Thor's mother Frigga is killed protecting Jane, and Malekith is forced to flee. Against Odin's orders to stay in Asgard, Thor reluctantly frees Loki, who knows a secret portal to Svartalfheim, home of the dark elves, in return for Thor's promise to take vengeance for their mother.

In Svartalfheim, Loki tricks Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Jane, but Thor's attempt to destroy the exposed substance fails. Malekith merges with the Aether and leaves in his ship as Loki is fatally wounded. Thor and Jane return to London through another portal. Thor ultimately defeats Malekith in a battle in Greenwich, and returns to Asgard to decline Odin's offer to take the throne, and tells Odin of Loki's sacrifice. Jane and Thor reunite on Earth.

Battle with UltronEdit

After having found Loki's scepter on Earth at the Hydra facility in Sokovia, Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter's gem, and secretly decide to use it to complete Stark's "Ultron" global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron attacks Thor and the Avengers at their headquarters before escaping with the scepter. The Avengers track down and attack Ultron but Wanda Maximoff subdues them with a psychic attack. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination.

Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. into a synthetic body captured from Ultron. Thor returns to help activate the body, dubbed Vision, explaining that the gem on its brow, one of the six Infinity Stones, the most powerful objects in existence, was part of his vision. The Avengers return to Sokovia and defeat Ultron, and Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events.

Destruction of Asgard and battle with ThanosEdit

Imprisoned during his search for the Infinity Stones, Thor fights Surtur in Muspelheim. Surtur claims he will destroy Asgard in a prophesied Ragnarök, when his crown is placed into the Eternal Flame in Odin's vaults. Thor defeats Surtur and retrieves the crown, believing he has prevented Ragnarök. Returning to Asgard, he finds Loki still alive and posing as Odin. With the help of Stephen Strange, they find a dying Odin in Norway, who explains that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela, to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. She appears, destroying Mjölnir, and forces the escaping Thor and Loki from the Bifröst out into space.

Thor crash-lands on the planet Sakaar, and is captured by the slave trader Valkyrie, a former member of the ancient order of Valkyries defeated by Hela. After fighting Hulk, the champion of the Grandmaster, Thor finds the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. A recording of Natasha Romanoff helps Hulk transform back into Bruce Banner (after two years of lost control), and after convincing Valkyrie and Loki to help, they escape through a wormhole to Asgard – but not before Loki betrays his brother, who is left behind on Sakaar.

In the midst of a battle with Hela's forces, Loki returns aboard the Grandmaster's vessel, helping Asgard's citizens to escape. Thor, facing Hela, loses an eye, and through a vision of Odin realizes only Ragnarök can stop her. He has Loki place Surtur's crown in the Eternal Flame, and the reborn Surtur destroys Asgard and Hela. Thor, crowned king, decides to take his people to Earth, but they are intercepted by a large spacecraft carrying Thanos.

Thor, Loki, and Hulk are unable to stop Thanos, who overpowers Hulk and kills Loki, claiming the Space Stone from the Tesseract, which Loki had stolen just before Asgard’s destruction. Heimdall uses the Bifröst to send Hulk to Earth before he is killed and the ship obliterated. The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to the ship's distress call and recover Thor. Rocket Raccoon and Groot accompany Thor to Nidavellir to find a weapon capable of killing Thanos. They meet Eitri at an abandoned Nidavellir, and the four create Stormbreaker, an axe that grants Thor the power of the Bifröst.

Near the climax of Thanos' invasion of Wakanda (waged to obtain the Stone from Vision), Thor, Rocket and Groot arrive on Earth via the Bifröst and rally with the defenders. Thanos retrieves the last Infinity Stone, however, and despite being grievously wounded by Thor, is able to activate the Infinity Gauntlet; by snapping his fingers, he causes half of the inhabitants of the universe to disintegrate. Thanos manages to teleport away before Thor can finish him off.

Restoring the universeEdit

Several weeks later, Thor goes with a group of Avengers to confront Thanos on the garden planet to which he has retired. After discovering that Thanos has destroyed the Infinity Stones to prevent their use again, a vengeful Thor decapitates Thanos. Over the next five years, Thor becomes an overweight and obese alcoholic with severe PTSD and depression as he leads the remaining survivors of Asgard, who have created a colony in Norway. When the return of Scott Lang leads to the idea of using time travel to get the Infinity Stones to save the universe, Thor joins the mission during which he meets his mother in a time before her death, a meeting that reignites Thor's sense of purpose, and he also regains Mjolnir. With the Infinity Stones, the Avengers are able to restore those killed by Thanos. However, a time-traveling version of Thanos appears and a large scale battle ensues, during which Thor is pleased to see that Steve Rogers is also able to wield Mjolnir. Thanos is defeated when Stark sacrifices himself to use the Infinity Stones against the Mad Titan and his army. Thor attends to Stark's funeral. In the aftermath of Thanos' defeat, Thor abdicates as king of New Asgard and makes Valkyrie the new ruler. Thor then joins the Guardians of the Galaxy, where it was implied that there would be a leadership conflict between him and Peter Quill.

Differences from the comic booksEdit

A major divergence from the comic books is the absence of Thor's comic book alter ego, Donald Blake.[1][52] In the comics, as in the MCU, Odin stripped Thor of his powers and sent him to Earth as punishment for Thor's arrogance and intemperance. However, in the comics, Odin puts Thor into the body of Donald Blake, a crippled human doctor, for the course of a long-running storyline, encompassing years of adventures during which Thor's alter ego is occasionally able to cause Thor to re-emerge to fight villainy. In the MCU, with no element of an alter ego, this banishment is resolved within the first film, over the course of days.[1] The lack of an alter ego also impacts Thor's relationships. In the comics, Thor's love interest, Jane Foster, is an assistant to Donald Blake. In the films, she has no prior connection to the character, and meets him due to her work as a physicist studying the type of phenomena his appearances generate.[1]

Another significant difference from the comic books is the destruction in the MCU of Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, and the origin of its replacement, Stormbreaker. In the comics, Stormbreaker is created by the dwarf Eitri by Odin's decree, to be given to the character Beta Ray Bill, after Bill defeats Thor in hand-to-hand combat in a fight to determine who should possess Mjölnir. In the MCU, Thor himself assists Eitri in creating Stormbreaker as a replacement for the destroyed Mjölnir, to use as a weapon with which to face Thanos,[53] though he does later retrieve Mjölnir for a brief period while travelling through time.

At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor joins the Guardians of the Galaxy, also a different course from anything that occurs in the comic books.

ReceptionEdit

While Hemsworth's portrayal of the character has received praise, Thor, as a character, was initially less well-received than other Avengers characters, and it has been stated that "before Ragnarok, Thor was described by some as an ill-defined if likable meathead of a character, used primarily for punching and occasionally fish-out-of-water jokes made at his expense",[54] and that films featuring the character were "the studio's least fun franchise".[55] In particular, The Dark World was criticized for adding "absolutely zero development or growth for its main character", resulting in "little enthusiasm for Thor from either audiences or Marvel".[54] Thor: Ragnarok, however, was much better received, to the extent that it has widely been described as saving the Thor franchise.[54] In his review of Avengers: Endgame, Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal acknowledged "Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, endearing despite some ragged material and the actor’s seemingly limited dramatic range" while praising Hemsworth in the MCU Infinity Saga finale "as the graceful, exuberant comic actor he was destined to be, while Thor morphs, alarmingly and charmingly—yet still heroically—into a beer-bellied apparition who could pass for Jeff Lebowski."[56]

AccoladesEdit

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2011 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Breakout: Male Chris Hemsworth Nominated [57]
Scream Awards Best Superhero Chris Hemsworth as Thor Nominated [58]
Breakout Performance—Male Chris Hemsworth Nominated
2012 People's Choice Awards Favorite Movie Superhero Chris Hemsworth Nominated [59]
MTV Movie Awards Best Hero Thor Nominated [60]
Saturn Awards Best Costume Alexandra Byrne Won [61]
2014 Saturn Awards Best Costume Wendy Partridge Nominated [62]
Best Make-Up Karen Cohen / David White / Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Shirtless Performance Chris Hemsworth Nominated [63]
Best Hero Chris Hemsworth Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Chris Hemsworth Nominated [64]
2018 Critics' Choice Awards Best Actor in a Comedy Chris Hemsworth Nominated [65]
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Fight Chris Hemsworth vs. Mark Ruffalo Nominated [66]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actor Chris Hemsworth Won [67]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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