Good and evil are often subjective in fiction works, and this is particularly true with Norse Mythology. Thor, in Norse Mythology, for example, has a heroic nature that is complicated, at best. So it is understandable, particularly considering Marvel’s rendition of this character, that readers will ask if Thor is good or bad.
Thor, the God of Thunder in Norse mythology, is generally good and most often invoked for things like consecrating marriages, ensuring victory in battle, and providing protection while at sea. However, Thor was not perfect; he enjoyed fighting, drinking, and starting wars.
This article will analyze whether Thor’s character is good or bad, what came from the minds at Marvel, and what the Nordic myths have to say about the hammer-wielding god. Keep reading to learn more about the Norse god Thor.
Also see Who Is Thor’s Wife in Norse Mythology? to learn more.
Is the Mythological Thor Like His Marvel Counterpart?
Before going any further, readers must understand that “Marvel’s” Thor refers to the comic book and MCU versions. While both Marvel Thors have differences, they have much more in common with each other than the mythical Thor.
The comic, and movie, versions of Thor and the Mythical version are, in essence, the same character. They are both, at their core, heroic figures, but mythical Thor did much more of the “mundane” to help the ordinary Nordic people.
Thor has been a popular and enduring character for over a millennium. The Norse version of Thor was prevalent during the Age of Vikings (790 -1100 A.D.), so there was quite a bit for Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Larry Lieber to use as inspiration.
Both Marvel and Norse myth Thors had a large violent streak, and they are both amongst the bravest of their respective groups. Marvel’s Thor and his mythological version are among the most powerful of their “pantheons” also.
A noticeable difference between the two gods, however, is the scope of their responsibilities. Marvel’s Thor is mostly good in that he typically mitigates potentially catastrophic events such as the decimation of half the universe’s population. Mythology’s Thor is similar in temperament and just as good.
He takes part in Ragnarok – a universe-shattering event that’s supposed to destroy literally everything.
So both versions of Thor have helped save all existence and we are just as likely to aid the Norse people with “smaller” matters too. The Norse Thor could bolster crop yields and legitimate marriages.
Mythical Thor was also able to formalize contractual business agreements and protect ships at sea.
Also see Did the Vikings Wear Thor’s Hammer? to learn more.
What Are Mythical Thor’s Redeeming Qualities?
Like most heroes, Thor is flawed. He can be tricked and has a wicked temper.
Mythical Thor’s redeeming qualities are that he is a heroic figure and can be considered good. Historically speaking, the Norse Thor was good, but not infallible. He was more willing to help everyday people, and his exploits showed that he had bad days.
For example, Thor was violent and could be incredibly ill-tempered. His wrath was evident when he fought various enemies to protect the Norse people.
Another troubling, but not irredeemable trait of the Norse god was his love for beer.
Norse mythology’s Thor is more good than bad, though. He is renowned for helping ordinary citizens, and although often uncommon, there is a kind of accessibility to Thor that crosses all societal barriers.
Thor also has plenty of stories that demonstrate his more “human” side. The tale of Thor’s encounter with the giant Utgarda-Loki consists of the god competing against Loki in three trials (eating, racing, and drinking) where the former cheated his way to victory against the latter.
People listening to stories about Thor a thousand years ago may have found comfort in the fact that even a god was not perfect. Perhaps that is why people today enjoy Marvel’s rendition of this Norse god.
Also see Did the Vikings Actually Believe in Thor? to learn more.
Who Are the Villains In Norse Mythology?
While it can be argued the Thor is sometimes both good and bad, there are many true villains in Norse mythology.
The villains in Norse mythology include elves, Draugar, and Fenrir. Dark elves live underground and do not get along with people very well. Draugar is a mix of zombies and vampires, while the Fenrir is a wolf from Asgard.
Let’s take a closer look at these villains.
There are two kinds of elves in Viking mythology stories, the Dokkalfar or dark elves, and the Ljosalfar or light elves. Dark elves are subterranean dwellers who are pitch black, and the light elves who are as beautiful as the sun.
These elves do not get along very well with people and are capable of bringing disease to humans. Conversely, they can also heal if they choose to. Elves, for the most part, had mixed feelings about humans.
The draugar are a terrifying mixture of zombie-like and vampire-like creatures.
Draugar are undead corpses that drink blood, have super strength, and grow larger whenever they want. These blood-sucking monsters carry a horrid stench with them everywhere they go, and they look like rotting, dead bodies.
Draugar are commonly found buried with treasure that they guarded zealously.
When these zombie creatures aren’t protecting their hoard, they are attacking communities – particularly people who had hurt them while they’d been alive.
Also see Marvel Thor vs Norse Thor: What’s the Difference? to learn more.
Fenrir is a gigantic wolf that the Asgardian gods raised to prevent him from sowing chaos in the nine worlds. Unfortunately, Fenrir ends up being too much for the gods to handle, so they resort to chaining him.
When the gods chain Fenrir, they use a dwarven-made chain that looks weak but is actually immensely strong. The giant wolf ends up being tied to a boulder with a sword driven through his jaws.
Fenrir is a villain because of his involvement in Ragnarok, or the end of the nine worlds. During Ragnarok, Fenrir breaks free of his imprisonment to seek revenge on the gods.
Thor isn’t perfect, but he is generally good. Overall, Thor is the same hero from mythology that he is in Marvel movies and comics.