|OK, so they are scary goats, but still goats.|
Traditional myth tells the tale of Odin's greatest son as a fierce-eyed, red bearded god who drives a cart pulled by goats. While this might seem like the equivalent of a Vespa by god standards, when you wield the great hammer, Mjollnir, that iconic mountain crusher tends to tie tongues.
The essence of Thor first appears in historical recordings of sacrifice dating back to the Roman conquest of Germania during the time of Christ, but it isn’t until the Viking age of the 11th and 12th centuries that his popularity peaked. Scandinavians from Finland to Iceland revered Thor as almighty god and the emulation of their favorite deity earned them a reputation of brutality and abandon in battle.
But it wasn’t just nasty sharp pointy objects they had brains to wield. No. They fought the persistent spread of Christianity with ideas as well. Pendants fashioned in the shape of Mjollnir were especially popular in places where crucifixes flourished. Towns and children continued to take on the rebellious name of Thor long after the official shift to Christianity. Even in modern times, the Norse gods have not completely faded. Thor’s hammer is still a religious symbol of power, though nowadays it’s sported more frequently by death metal bands than tombstones (Hey, whatever helps one channel Skwisgaar’s mad guitar skills. Extreme!).
As for Marvel’s myth The Mighty Thor, his quarterback cockiness gets him grounded on Earth in the body of a medical student. A crippled one, bereft of most of his memories. . . a mercy when you consider how short his end of the stick is. But even pagan gods can grow a heart and Thor develops a soft spot for humans. He becomes a doctor and like any smart young man, soon finds himself involved in an office romance. If only that were the extent of his issues.
One day he hears the call of Odin and travels to Norway. Unbeknownst to him he finds the cave of his god-self’s birth along with Mjollnir. For a brief flash the god in him returns and saves Earth from an invasion of. . . wait for it. . . aliens. Thirty-four years later Will Smith does the same thing, but Thor gets extra points because he wore a suit of silver nipples and still made it look cool. Rock on prince of Asgard. Rock on.
Up next: The Epic Thor and Tolkien.