Stories about Thor in Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has made many people wonder about how accurately pop-culture depictions reflect Norse mythology. What does the MCU get right about Thor and what does it get wrong?
Norse Thor and Marvel Thor have many similarities, but they differ in significant ways. One of the clearest differences between them is that Marvel Thor looks different from Norse Thor. Additionally, according to Norse mythology, Thor doesn’t fly without his chariot as he does in the MCU and Loki isn’t his brother.
Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the two versions of Thor, along with their good qualities and character flaws, as shown in each of their respective storylines.
Also see Was Thor A Real Person? to learn more.
Thor vs Thor: A Comparison
Thor wears many hats in Norse mythology. He is simultaneously known as the god of thunder, the sky god, the god of fertility, the god of war, as well as many other monikers.
In popular culture today, he’s most widely known as the god of thunder, the mighty Thor of Asgard, and the protector of the mortal realm.
Marvel creator Stan Lee looked to Norse mythology for character inspiration throughout many of his comics and, ultimately, his movies. However, Norse Thor and Marvel Thor do have many differences.
One of the most obvious deviations from traditional Norse mythology is Thor’s appearance in the Marvel films. Norse Thor is typically shown with long, red hair and a red beard, a look that’s quite different from the blue-eyed blonde portrayed on screen.
Marvel’s Thor is a superhero, after all. Indeed, superheroes are often representations of the very best in humanity. In Thor’s case, he’s pictured as an ideal of Western beauty, health, strength, and courage.
In the Marvel storyline, he’s shown as the opposite of his brother, the dark-haired Loki. However, this is another difference between the two as Thor isn’t Loki’s brother, according to the legend.
Also see How Did Thor Get His Hammer? to learn more.
In the Marvel universe, Thor picks up his hammer and wields it with ease. However, according to Norse mythology, Thor also has to wear iron gloves to handle the mighty Mjolnir.  These were necessary to protect his hands from the incredible power of his hammer.
Thor also has a belt of strength that he wears to double his power and strength, which Marvel doesn’t depict in their version of his story.
Lastly, Thor has a magical chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, that would allow him to fly across the sky and also double as a meal if needed.
Thor could kill and eat the goats and as long as he didn’t break their bones, and they could be brought back to life the following day by using his hammer to resurrect them.
In the Marvel movies, Thor doesn’t need his chariot or the goats to fly.
What Are Thor’s Good Qualities in Each Storyline?
In both Marvel and Norse mythology storylines, Thor is loyal, honorable, brave, a defender of others, and a strong warrior. His bravery is unmatched, and he’s always willing to run into battle to save the day.
Thor’s quick to defend those he cares about as well as innocent strangers, something that’s shown throughout the Marvel franchise and in Norse mythology.
To describe these traits further, in Norse mythology, he’s often depicted as removing obstacles that are in front of others (especially if they’re attempting to cross a dangerous body of water) or accompanying them as a guide.
Thor was also popular among common people, as he could be called upon by farmers, merchants, or even housewives for assistance with the various challenges of life. This is an extension of his loyalty and dependability.
Also see Why Is Thor the God of Thunder? to learn more.
What Are Thor’s Character Flaws in Each Storyline?
Thor’s character flaws in each story line include being quick to turn to violence as a means of resolving problems, being quick-tempered, and he often shows defiance in the face of others’ rules or commands. He’s prideful and impatient but is still shown as being a protector for all.
Marvel’s Thor is as imperfect as any mortal. Throughout his story arc, the viewer can recognize several character flaws that impact his heroic journey. The first is his hubris. Thor’s overzealous pride and brash temper caused him to act out in ways that weren’t always typical of a hero.
Both versions of Thor are also known to be quick-tempered and defiant. He’s quick to rush to decisions and doesn’t give careful thought to his plans. Even though his actions are well-intentioned, he does sometimes cause problems for others by refusing to follow the rules.
Thor’s strength and fierceness in battle could also be described as a character flaw, as he’s sometimes overly eager to engage in a fight. His confidence and self-assuredness are usually rightful, but he is shown to get in over his head at times because of his cocky attitude.
What Does Marvel Get Wrong About Thor?
Marvel wrongly shows Thor as being clean-shaven with blonde hair and gives him moments of inferior intelligence at times. Additionally, his “ending” is different in the Marvel films. The great serpent, Jormungandr, kills Norse Thor at Ragnarok, which differs from his Marvel tale.
Marvel shows Thor as being unintelligent at times. In Norse mythology, Thor is an intelligent deity, though he can’t deceive others through trickery and thus can’t recognize such traits in others either.
Thor has a love interest in a mortal woman (Jane Foster) in the Marvel universe, but Norse Thor is married to the goddess Sif, and the two had a daughter.
The mischievous Loki is sometimes portrayed as Thor’s uncle in Norse mythology, but their relationship is often ambiguous. He’s never referred to as Thor’s brother, however.
Marvel’s Thor is shown as scoffing at humans while he’s on Earth, acting as though they’re dull and foolish. While Thor is a god and far superior in many ways to Earth’s mortals, he has a good relationship with Midgard and can be counted on to help humans.
He doesn’t have any disdain for humans as he’s shown to have now and then throughout his Marvel character arc.
Marvel is excellent in showing Thor’s good qualities and character flaws, though they’re sometimes quite subtle. However, the cinematic storyline doesn’t get everything perfectly right.