Gods (Marvel Comics)
Several characters in many Marvel Comics stories have been referred to as gods. Generally, however, only those belonging to two specific types are considered to be the "true" gods. Other worlds besides Earth also have their own gods, with different origins.
- 1 Elder Gods
- 2 New Gods
- 3 List of known Marvel gods
- 4 "Other" Gods
- 5 References
- 6 Sources
- 7 External links
The first kind of gods, known now as the Elder Gods, were created when the being called The Demiurge spread part of its essence over the Earth. They included Gaea, Chthon, Set and Oshtur. All but Gaea the Earth Goddess, and Oshtur the Bird Goddess of the Sky (who departed Earth to explore the cosmos and other dimensions) degenerated into demons when they realized they could increase their personal power by consuming their brethren. Set the Serpent God was the first of the Elder Gods to degenerate into a demonic being and commit murder. Gaea "mated" with the Demiurge to produce Atum/Demogorge the God-Eater, who killed or drove off all of the others. (As revealed in Thor Annual #10) Many of these Elder Gods have been heavily influenced by the works of Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. For instance, the version of Set that has appeared in Marvel was created by Howard as part of the Hyborian Age featuring Conan the Barbarian. Marvel acquired the rights to Howard's work in the early 1970s and used the Hyborian Age to further expand Earth's history, setting it in prehistoric times. Many of the Elder Gods were monstrous in size and appearance, often appearing in guises horrifying to humans. For instance, Set was depicted as a massive, multi-headed demonic serpent, though he could alter his form to whatever he chose.
The second kind of gods are human-like beings from other dimensions who are immortal and super-strong, and usually have individual magical powers as well, but are not usually as powerful as the Elder Gods. Some of the Skyfathers of the various groups, such as Odin and Zeus, have demonstrated power on the level of the Elder Gods. They are divided into separate pantheons and are or were worshipped on Earth for thousands of years, though the cosmic entities called The Celestials forced them to limit their contact with humanity 1000 years ago. As a result most modern humans do not believe in their existence anymore. Most are based on actual myths but some are original characters. Their origin is not clear, though Gaea has claimed to have been the Mother Goddess of each pantheon, under a different identity for each; however, some of the Skyfathers also seem to have simply "emerged" somehow from primordial chaos or nothingness into their own divine realms, only encountering Gaea later in the Earth realm and siring more gods with her, as in the case of the pantheons of the Kami, and the Yazatas.
It should be noted that Marvel Comics does not closely follow the actual mythology of these figures, often distorting characters, familial relationships and real-world history, in order to create licensed characters.
Council of Godheads
The leaders of the various pantheons (or their representatives) occasionally meet to discuss matters that may affect them. The group was organized by Odin, Vishnu, and Zeus. The first time they met (known so far) was approximately 1000 years ago when the Celestials visited Earth for the third time. The Celestials demanded that the gods stop interfering in human affairs or they would close the portals between Earth and the gods' home dimensions. Overpowered by the Celestials, the godheads agreed, but began making plans to fight them when they returned 1000 years later to judge humanity. The Asgardians would attack first using The Destroyer as a weapon. This plan was kept secret from most other gods. Gaea and the female rulers of each pantheon also met to discuss a more peaceful solution. They decided to choose twelve humans who would represent the best qualities of the human race, make them immortal, and present them to the Celestials as proof of humanity's worth; these would be known as the Young Gods. This plan was also kept secret.
A few years ago, the Celestials did return, and not long after, the Destroyer, powered by the souls of all Asgardians (except Thor, who arrived late to the battle), and armed with the gigantic Odinsword, attacked the Celestials but was swiftly destroyed, leaving the Asgardians' spirits scattered. Gaea appeared with the Young Gods, and the Celestials accepted them, judged in favor of humanity, and left Earth, taking the Young Gods with them. Gaea then told Thor he could revive the Asgardians with a portion of each pantheon's essence. Each godhead willingly gave their part, except the Hindu ones (who are ruled by the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) who voted on the matter and decided that a new Asgardian race would eventually be born. This caused an angry Thor to fight Shiva (or Indra posing as Shiva, this isn't clear) and won, causing him to change his vote and gaining Thor their essence. Thor then revived the Asgardians with it. (Thor vol. 1 #300-301)
Their next meeting came when four gods of the dead tried to join their infernal realms together to increase their powers; this awakened the Demogorge, who, thinking the time for the current gods to die had come, absorbed them. Discovering this, Odin convened the Council to discuss Demogorge's threat, and they decided to send a team of gods from different pantheons (Thor, Indra, Shango, Tawa, Horus, Quetzalcoatl, and Apollo) to fight Demogorge. He absorbed them all as well, but Thor's spirit forced Demogorge to restore all the absorbed deities, in exchange for the Death Gods restoring the barriers between their realms. (Thor Annual #10)
The Council also tested Thor to see if he was worthy of taking Odin's place in the group after his death, but Thor failed one of the tests when he provided food to a starving people instead of teaching them how to gain more by themselves. (Thor vol. 2 #61)
During the Chaos War storyline, the Council of Godheads came together when it came under the threat of Amatsu-Mikaboshi and his enslaved space gods. Hercules was tricked into showing Amatsu-Mikaboshi the way to the Council of Godheads, from there he was able to access all the divine realms.
Most of the various gods who have appeared within Marvel titles are portrayed as being generally human in appearance, though many are often depicted as able to alter their appearance and form to extraordinary degrees. Many members of the Egyptian pantheon, for instance, have been drawn as generally human in shape but with characteristics of animals. For instance, Horus is often depicted with the body of a man and the head of a falcon. Most of the various pantheons are depicted as being functionally immortal in the sense that they no longer age after reaching adulthood, though a few of them do continue to age at an extraordinarily slow rate. All of the gods have superhuman physical attributes of strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, resistance to injury and healing at variable degrees. Many of them can manipulate great amounts of mystical energy for a number of purposes including projecting powerful beams of concussive force, heat, teleportation, temporary augmentation of their physical capabilities, granting superhuman powers to mortals & inanimate objects, etc.
Of the various god pantheons who have been worshipped in human history, Marvel's depictions are almost always limited to the Norse and Greco-Roman gods due, in part, to western culture's greater familiarity with them. Another reason is that some of these pantheons are still actively worshipped in the real world, such as the Aboriginal gods of Australia and Hindu gods of India, and Marvel wishes to avoid potentially offending followers of these faiths. While these active pantheons have been depicted, their appearances have almost always been as cameos rather than as any sort of active participants in battles.
List of known Marvel gods
A race of Australian Gods.
A race of Incan Gods.
- Mama Quilla
- Mama Cocha
A race of Mayan Gods.
- Buluc Chabtan
- Hunab Ku
A race of Oceanic Gods.
A race of Japanese Gods.
A race of Mesopotamian Gods.
Celtic gods (Avalonians)
The race of deities worshipped in India.
A race of Philippine Gods.
- Aman Sinaya
- Apo Laki
A race of Gods that are worshipped by the Native Americans.
- Gitche Manitou
A race of Turkic and Mongolian Gods.
- King Gesar
- Koyash Ay
A race of Aztec Gods.
- Xipe Totec
A race of West African Gods.
- Nyambe Ogun
- Sagbata/Baron Samedi
A race of Chinese Gods.
- Feng Po-Po
- Guan Yin
- Guan Yu
- Kui Xing
- Lei Gong
- Xi Wangmu
- Yen-Lo Wang
- Yuanshi Tianzun
- Zhu Rong
Several beings have either claimed to be gods, or were mistaken for gods. These include:
- Apocalypse (worshipped as Huitzilopochtli, Kali-Ma, Set, possibly others)
- Beta Ray Bill (an alien warrior who was an avatar of Thor for a short time and has since been given his own similar powers)
- Demons (many were originally Elder Gods, and/or were worshipped as gods even in their demonic forms)
- Eternals (Zuras was mistaken for Zeus, et cetera)
- The Phoenix Force (Guardian of the M'Kraan Crystal, and worshipped by the Shi'ar Empire)
- Selene the Black Queen (worshipped as a goddess in Nova Roma)
- Storm (worshipped as a goddess in Kenya)
- "The Guide to the Mythological Universe," Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.angelfire.com/planet/mythguide/faq.html
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition (Gods entry); 2006 edition (Council of Godheads entry); individual character entries
- GODS in the Marvel Universe, at marvunapp.com
- Gods in the Marvel Universe, at MarvelDirectory.com
- Guide to the Mythological Universe - Adapted from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #5