REAL NAME: Thor Odinson
AFFILIATION: The Avengers
FIRST APPEARANCE: Tales of Suspense #39 (1963)
Seeking an heir that was empowered by both the realms of Asgard and Midgard (Earth), Odin, King of the Norse Gods, sought a relationship with the elder Goddess Gaea. From their union, she birthed a son; Thor, God of Thunder.
In Asgard, under his father’s watchful eye, Thor believed himself to be the son of Odin’s wife, Frigga – and was raised by these parents alongside his adoptive brother Loki; the spawn of a Frost Giant who had been taken by Odin after a great battle with Loki’s true father, Laufey. As the favourite son, Thor was often the target of Loki’s jealousy, and in their formative years, many of Thor’s adventures throughout the nine realms of Asgard stemmed from Loki’s own mischievous deeds.
These various adventures lead to Thor becoming a hero of some renown throughout the cosmos – especially after he proved himself worthy enough to wield the powerful hammer Mjolnir, which helped him channel the power of the storm that was his birthright. This made him Asgard’s greatest warrior, who would often battle alongside his comrades, the Warriors Three and his lover, the Lady Sif.
But with this status came arrogance, and thus, Thor’s father decided that if he were to one day rule from the golden throne of Asgard, he must first learn humility. Stripping him of his hammer, Odin cast his son to Earth, removing his memories of his life as a God, and casting him into the human guise of Doctor Donald Blake.
Blake would eventually reclaim both his true identity and his magical hammer after encountering a group of alien ‘Kronans’. Now semi-restored to Godhood, he split his time between his doctoral duties as Blake – living a normal human going to work and romancing his co-worker Jane Foster – and his superhero adventures as Thor, becoming one of Earth’s premiere heroes and teaming up with the likes of Iron Man, Hulk, Ant-Man and the Wasp to found the Avengers and thwart yet another of Loki’s schemes.
Having butted heads with Thor since their childhood, Loki obviously has and always will be Thor’s premiere foe. However, due to their familial connection, the pair are hesitant to kill one another, as, buried underneath the hatred and rivalry is true brotherly love. As such, many of Loki’s plans will instead involve Thor being captured, imperilled by someone else or transformed into something like a frog*, rather than killed.
Loki often has others do his bidding, and has previously manipulated many Earth criminals into becoming challengers of his heroic brother, such as the Absorbing Man, who Loki gave the ability to absorb the properties of any material he touched. Similarly, a group of thugs known as the Wrecking Crew gained great strength through the machinations of the Asgardian Gods. At times, Loki will also team with other Asgardians, such as the lustful Enchantress and her brutish Executioner.
Alongside Loki, Thor has many other enemies that come from or are based on Norse Mythology.
In fact, each different realm Thor visits generally brings with it an antagonist for the God of Thunder to face; while the realms of Vanaheim and Alfheim are generally more benevolent, from Asgard, there is, of course, Loki; Jotunheim, home of the giants, is watched over by Laufey and Ymir; Swartalfheim is often plagued by the dark elf Malekith; Nidavellir – home of the dwarves – is a common battleground for Thor and the rock troll Ulik; Muspelheim is the fiery domain of the demonic Surtur; Nifelheim, the realm of the dead, is home to Thor’s niece Hela.
Alongside these various criminals and villainous entities, Thor has also retained friendly rivalries with other heroes, as there has long been much debate over who the strongest (Marvel) hero truly is. As such, it’s not uncommon to see Thor enter into titanic clashes with the Olympian God Hercules or fellow Avenger, the ‘Incredible’ Hulk.
In more recent years, Thor’s conviction took a hit after a millennia-spanning confrontation with the cosmic serial killer known as Gorr the God-Butcher. Although Thor (and his future and past selves – the combined effort of which it took to defeat the villain) did eventually stop the slaughter of the Gods, he began to question whether or not he and his fellow immortals were truly ‘good’.
The negative response he feared was seemingly confirmed for him, after he and the Avengers clashed with the power-mad former spy Nick Fury, who confessed to Thor that after gaining omniscience, that Gorr was indeed right about Gods, and mortals would be better off without them. This crisis of faith caused Thor to become unworthy of Mjolnir, and as a result, he became more brooding a reckless; losing an arm to Malekith soon after and abandonning his name, instead choosing to go by ‘Odinson’.
Seeing that the world needed a Thor, however, the Odinson’s former flame, Jane Foster, took up the hammer, and began defending the nine realms, while Thor continued venturing around the cosmos and occasionally aiding the Avengers.
As the new Thor, Jane also joined the Avengers, starting a fling with Sam Wilson a.k.a. the Falcon, who, at the time, was similarly filling in for Captain America. She too started a playful rivalry with Hercules, and quite quickly became beloved by the superhero community. Unfortunately, alongside hiding her secret identity from the world, Jane was also hiding cancer – and with every use of the hammer, any prior chemotheraphy would be negated.
Eventually choosing to go down fighting, Jane/Thor helped Thor, Odin and the Asgardians stop a threat known as the Mangog – the embodiment of an entire vengeful race that Odin once wiped out. Tying Mangog to Mjolnir, Jane/Thor threw both the villain and her hammer into the sun, destroying the pair, before bidding farewell to the Odinson and succumbing to her illness.
Now returned to his station as Thor, the Odinson must navigate the ever-dangerous cosmos without his trusty hammer, Mjolnir, to call upon.
CURRENTLY APPEARS IN: The Avengers, The Mighty Thor
*Just FYI, that ‘frog’ thing wasn’t an offhand comment: