Thor (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
|Marvel Cinematic Universe character|
|First appearance||Thor (2011)|
|Full name||Thor Odinson|
|Significant other||Jane Foster|
Thor Odinson is a fictional 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 one of the most powerful of the Asgardians, an ancient alien civilization with long ties to Earth, who humans consider to be gods. Thor is a founding and central member of the Avengers and joins the Guardians of the Galaxy.
As of 2021[update], Thor is a central figure of the MCU, having appeared in eight films of the series. The character and his first two titular films were received to mixed reception, however Thor: Ragnarok within "Phase Three" of the "Infinity Saga" is often credited as positively rebooting Thor and his storyline, and he has since become a fan favorite. Hemsworth is set to reprise the role in the upcoming film Thor: Love and Thunder, and the Disney+ animated television series, What If...?.
Concept, creation, and characterization
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. 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." Lee and Kirby included Thor in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963) as a founding member of the superhero team. A live-action television adaptation of the comic book character first appeared in the 1988 television film The Incredible Hulk Returns. 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.
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. 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". Marvel Studios signed Matthew Vaughn to direct the film. Vaughn then rewrote Protosevich's script in order to reduce the budget. In September 2008, Kenneth Branagh entered into negotiations to direct, 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." In October 2008, Daniel Craig was offered the role, but ultimately turned it down, citing his commitments to the James Bond franchise.
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. 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. 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."
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?'" 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." Dakota Goyo portrays a young Thor in the first film.
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!" 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."
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". 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." 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."
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. 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". 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.
By the events of Thor: Ragnarok, Thor has become a "lone gunslinger" searching for the Infinity Stones. 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, 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. Waititi also wanted to use more of Hemsworth's comedic talents showcased in films like Vacation (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016), and cited Kurt Russell's portrayal of Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China (1986) as an influence on the character.
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". 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. 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. 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.
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." 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." 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." 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. Thor was initially supposed to revert to his "old chiseled self" in the middle of Endgame, but Hemsworth successfully argued in favour of retaining Thor's aged physique.
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 to overthrow 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". 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.
Appearance and special effects
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. 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". 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. 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".
Chris Hemsworth stars as the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first appearing in Thor (2011), and subsequently appearing in The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Hemsworth cameos in the mid-credits scene of Doctor Strange (2016) and is scheduled to reprise his role in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022). In September 2020, Hemsworth stated that he wished to continue playing Thor after Love and Thunder, saying, "I'm not going into any retirement period" pointing out that the character was "way too young for that".
Fictional character biography
Origins and first visit to Earth
In 2011, Thor prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard after his father, Odin, but 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: Voltstagg, 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. Odin casts an enchantment on Mjolnir, ensuring that only those who are worthy may wield the hammer. Thor lands in New Mexico, meeting scientist Dr. Erik Selvig, astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster, and Foster's intern Darcy Lewis. Thor resigns himself to exile on Earth, where he develops a relationship with Foster. 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 Avengers
In 2012, Thor returns to Earth finding Loki on a Quinjet held captive by Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, and Natasha Romanoff. Thor takes Loki away, hoping to convince him to abandon his plan. However, Stark and Rogers pursue Thor and after a brief confrontation, Thor agrees to take Loki to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s flying aircraft carrier, the Helicarrier. Agents including Clint Barton, who were mind controlled by Loki, attack the Helicarrier, disabling one of its engines in flight and causing Banner to transform into the Hulk. Thor attempts to stop the Hulk's rampage and both are ejected from the Helicarrier as Loki escapes. Thor then becomes a founding member of the Avengers upon returning to help Rogers, Stark, Banner, Romanoff, and Barton when Loki opens a wormhole over New York City to allow a Chitauri army to invade the city. Thor and the Avengers fight off the Chitauri and save the city. After Loki is defeated at Stark Tower, Thor departs Earth with Loki and a source of power called the Tesseract.
Battle with the Dark Elves
In 2013, 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 go 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, led 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. Thor then returns to Earth and reunites with Jane.
Battle of Sokovia
In 2015, Thor and the Avengers raid the Hydra facility in Sokovia and find the scepter. Back at the Avengers Tower, 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. After the Avengers host a celebratory party, the unexpectedly sentient Ultron attacks Thor, James Rhodes, and the other Avengers before escaping with the scepter. The team tracks Ultron down in Johannesburg but Wanda Maximoff subdues them with hallucinatory visions. Following this, Thor and the team go to Barton's home to recover, however, Thor leaves them in order to consult with Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination. Returning to the team at the Tower, Thor finds out that Stark secretly uploaded J.A.R.V.I.S. into a synthetic body captured from Ultron and helps 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. Thor and the team return to Sokovia where they engage in the final battle against Ultron and manage to defeat him. At the new Avengers Compound, Thor tells Rogers and Stark that he is leaving to go back into space to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events and leaves Earth using the Bifrost.
Ragnarok and Infinity War
In 2017, Thor is imprisoned during his search for the Infinity Stones in Muspelheim and fights his captor, Surtur. 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. He takes Loki back to Earth in New York City, and 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 Thor and Loki from the Bifröst out into space. Thor crash-lands on the planet Sakaar, and is captured by Valkyrie, a former member of the ancient Asgardian order of Valkyries defeated by Hela. After fighting Hulk, the champion of the Grandmaster, Thor finds the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. A 2015 recording of Romanoff helps Hulk transform back into Banner and after convincing Valkyrie and Loki to help, they escape through a wormhole to Asgard – but not before Loki betrays his brother, and is left behind on Sakaar. In the midst of the battle with Hela's forces, Loki returns aboard the Grandmaster's vessel, the Statesman. He and Heimdall help Asgardians escape into the ship. 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 Surtur destroys Asgard and Hela. Thor, crowned king, decides to take his people to Earth, but they are intercepted by Sanctuary II, Thanos's warship.
On a destroyed Statesman, Thor is threatened by Thanos using the Power Stone, until Loki gives him the Space Stone in the Tesseract. Before he does, he calls on the Hulk, but Thanos overpowers Hulk and kills Heimdall, much to Thor's dismay. After Loki is killed by Thanos, Thor clutches his brother's body as Thanos obliterates the Statesman leaving Thor to die in the open space. Thor is rescued by the Guardians of the Galaxy —-Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Mantis, Rocket, and Groot — and tells them about Thanos’ quest to find the Infinity Stones. He then leaves in a space pod with Rocket and Groot to Nidavellir, with Rocket giving Thor a replacement eye on the way. They find an abandoned Nidavellir and meet the dwarf king Eitri. The four work together to create Stormbreaker, a powerful axe that also grants Thor the power of the Bifröst. Thor transports himself, Rocket, and Groot to Wakanda on Earth via the Bifröst to help Rogers, Romanoff, Banner, Rhodes, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, T'Challa, and the Wakandan army in the battle against the Outriders. He reunites with Rogers, who comments on his new haircut. Thor is able to defeat the remaining Outriders and uses Stormbreaker to severely wound Thanos. However, despite being wounded, Thanos activates the Infinity Gauntlet, snaps his fingers, and teleports away, initiating the Blip. Thor is left to watch in horror when Barnes, Maximoff, and Wilson disintegrate.
Reversing the Blip
Thor, along with the surviving Avengers and Rocket, go back to the Avengers Compound. Three weeks later, Thor goes with Rogers, Romanoff, Banner, Rhodes, Rocket, Carol Danvers, and Nebula into space to Titan II to confront Thanos. After discovering that the Stones were destroyed, Thor decapitates Thanos with Stormbreaker. In between 2018 and 2023, Thor located the remaining Asgardians in Tønsberg, Norway where they created a colony called New Asgard, and becomes an overweight and obese alcoholic with severe PTSD and depression while there. In 2023, Rocket and Banner arrive in New Asgard and urge Thor to return to the Avengers to hear their plan. Thor returns to the Compound, reuniting with the Avengers, and learns of the plan to time-travel via the Quantum Realm. He and Rocket time-travel to Asgard in an alternate 2013 where he meets an alternate Frigga, who reignites Thor's sense of purpose, and he regains Mjolnir. Upon returning, the original Avengers hold a silent mourning for Romanoff. After Banner reverses the Blip, an alternate version of Thanos attacks the Avengers Compound and a fight between him and Thor, Stark, and Rogers ensues. During the fight, Thor is pleased to see that Rogers is able to wield Mjolnir. After the restored Avengers, restored Guardians, Asgardians, Ravagers, Masters of the Mystic Arts, and the Wakandan army arrive, Thor participates in the final battle against Thanos and his army. In the end, Stark sacrifices himself to win. Afterwards, Thor attends Stark's funeral and returns to New Asgard, where he makes Valkyrie the new ruler, before joining the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Differences from the comic books
A major divergence from the comic books is the absence of Thor's comic book alter ego, Donald Blake, although he uses the name 'Donald Blake' as a pseudonym during his time on Earth in Thor, an Easter egg homage to the comics. 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. 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.
Another significant difference from the comic books is the destruction of Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, in the MCU 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, 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.
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", and that films featuring the character were "the studio's least fun franchise". 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". Thor: Ragnarok, however, was much better received, to the extent that it has widely been described as saving the Thor franchise. 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".
"Fat Thor" controversy
The depiction of Thor as a depressed and obese alcoholic in Avengers: Endgame, and the subsequent use of jokes directed at Thor by other characters due to this, led to accusations of fat shaming in various editorial commentary and fan reactions. Others indicated disapproval that Thor's emotional and physical state was played for laughs instead of being approached with more respect and understanding.
On the other hand, the depiction also received critical acclaim for adding relatability and for the tackling of mental health issues, with Hemsworth himself having advocated against the initial plan for Thor to become muscular again halfway through the film. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal praised Hemsworth in the Avengers franchise 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."
|2011||Thor||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Breakout: Male||Nominated|||
|Scream Awards||Best Superhero||Nominated|||
|2012||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Superhero||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Hero||Nominated|||
|The Avengers||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Nominated|||
|Choice Summer Movie Star: Male||Won|
|2013||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Action Movie Star||Won|||
|Favorite Movie Superhero||Nominated|
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Male Buttkicker||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Fight (with cast)||Won|||
|2014||Thor: The Dark World||MTV Movie Awards||Best Shirtless Performance||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Nominated|||
|2015||Avengers: Age of Ultron||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Nominated|||
|2016||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actor||Won|||
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actor||Nominated|||
|2018||Thor: Ragnarok||Critics' Choice Awards||Best Actor in a Comedy||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Fight (with Mark Ruffalo)||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Won|||
|2018||Avengers: Infinity War||People's Choice Awards||Male Movie Star of 2018||Nominated|||
|Action Movie Star of 2018||Nominated|
|2019||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actor||Nominated|||
|Avengers: Endgame||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Action Movie Actor||Nominated|||
|People's Choice Awards||Male Movie Star of 2019||Nominated|||
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