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10 Thunderous Facts About Marvel’s Thor

by Chris Jenkins
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Thor is a worldwide phenomenon. In the films, Chris Hemsworth portrays him as a god able to do everything except keep his shirt on, but there are more than a few weird Thor adventures that even his most ardent film fans are unaware of.

Featured image credit: Marvel

10He Was Once A Super-Powered Frog

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The movies always focus on the serious side of Thor’s brother, the trickster god Loki, as he schemes to take over Asgard and, failing that, the entire Earth. However, comic Loki has time for more insane pranks along the way to domination, including the time he transformed Thor into an actual frog.

Thor still retained some of his powers and his godly wisdom, but he was the size of a regular frog. The only thing weirder than this was Thor’s subsequent adventure, in which he took part in an honest-to-frog-god war between rats and frogs in New York’s Central Park. Later, things got halfway better when he found his hammer, which turned him back into a humanoid . . . albeit a humanoid frog. After having enough bipedal frog adventures to keep Deviant Art users busy for years, he was able to stop Loki, and his fellow god and friend Volstagg returned Thor to his normal, chiseled good looks.

9He’s Got A Copycat Alien

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The Age of Ultron movie mined much humor out of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and its rule that it can only be picked up by those who are worthy. And while the movie slyly acknowledges some being more worthy than others by showing the hammer move slightly as Captain America touches it, the comics have a long history of worthy creatures, including an alien named Beta Ray Bill.

Bill is an alien called a Korbinite who once fought Thor and managed to grab Mjolnir, which deemed him worthy. Both Thor and Bill were transported to Asgard, where Odin had them fight to see who got to keep the hammer. Bill won but refused to kill Thor, so Odin gave Mjolnir back to his son and had a new hammer called Stormbreaker made for Bill. He spends most of his time kicking butt in space and looking like a weird alien cosplaying as Thor, but the magic in his hammer often compels him to drop in and help Thor and other Asgardians.

8The Heroes Built A Murderous Robot Duplicate Of Him

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A comic civil war split the hero community in half, with Iron Man on one side believing that those with superpowers should have to register with SHIELD, and Captain America leading a rebellion because he believed that heroes shouldn’t be forced to compromise their secret identities. The real Thor was absent during the events of this story, but that didn’t stop Iron Man from bringing him into the fight in a different way.

It’s revealed that Iron Man held onto some strands of Thor’s hair which he acquired after the very first meeting of the Avengers. With this DNA and some technological contributions by Ant-Man (Hank Pym), he recreated Thor to both serve as a symbol and to be a powerful right hand for the registration argument. However, the plan quickly went south: Despite being programmed to only contain the rebel heroes, the clone robot of Thor wasted no time murdering Giant Man and spilling the first real blood of the civil war between heroes.

7Thor Nukes China

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Thor, like many comics characters, has been published long enough to have some politically incorrect tales. One such story is Journey Into Mystery #63, in which Thor takes on Communist China. After he wins a skirmish with the Red Army, they unleash their own super character to attack New York: Radioactive Man. In typical comic fashion, the fight seems to be going Radioactive Man’s way as he inexplicably hypnotizes Thor and throws his hammer in the ocean. However, Thor soon retrieves it and stops Radioactive Man from blowing up New York. This is when it gets really weird.

Thor summons a tornado to send Radioactive Man back to China. The villain warns Thor that sending him to land so fast will force him to reach critical mass, causing a nuclear explosion. Thor’s sassy response? “That’s your problem, my radioactive friend!” The comic ends with an atomic explosion in China, with leaders looking on in horror.

6His Half-Brother Is A God-Eater

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Due to Marvel’s movies, much of Thor’s family is well known by many: the stern but caring Odin, the chaotic and mischievous Loki, and their kindly mother, Frigga. However, the Thor of the comics eventually discovers two related bombshells: His real mother is Gaea, or Mother Nature (which helps explain Thor’s fascination with Earth over his home realm of Asgard). And because Gaea is his real mother, he has a half-brother named Atum. Atum has a secret identity of his own: He sometimes becomes Demogorge, the god-eater.

The god-eater is aptly named—one of Atum’s abilities is that he can consume gods that he kills and absorb their powers. Despite the frightening name and potentially destructive power, he is mostly benevolent. Most of the gods he kills are demonic or otherwise evil, although his battles with them can have negative consequences. This included the extinction of the dinosaurs due to his prolonged fight with the demon Set.

5He Once Helped Hitler

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Captain America and his team, The Invaders, were no strangers to fighting Adolf Hitler. However, in The Invaders #33, they discover Thor helping the Nazis on their mission to kill Joseph Stalin. When he is unable to do so, he uses Mjolnir to communicate his failure to Hitler himself, who yells at the thunder god. It turns out that Hitler wants to eventually call down all of the Norse gods on his enemies. If that plan sounds crazy, keep in mind that all it took for Thor to become an international would-be assassin was for Hitler to ask nicely.

Thor eventually does kill Stalin with lightning, but in a classic goofy twist, it turns out that Stalin was actually Union Jack in disguise. Around this time, Thor’s hammer starts transmitting some Hitler dialogue that confirms the tyrant’s plans for world domination. Feeling bad about the whole murder thing, Thor magically rescinds his fatal lightning bolt, bringing Union Jack back to life. It turns out that Thor only received the Hitler broadcast because Hitler’s bandaged assistant, Hans, was Dr. Doom in disguise. Dr. Doom, as it turns out, was only using Hitler to get a feel for what it would be like to take on the superhero community.

4He Had A Floating Kingdom Over Oklahoma

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While Thor himself is well known for hanging out on Earth, his home kingdom of Asgard appropriately felt like a very different place: Viking gods feasted and brawled, and Shakespearean family dramas played out across a rainbow road far, far away. The worlds collided, however, when Thor was given a chance to rebuild Asgard and rather inexplicably built it as a floating kingdom above Broxton, Oklahoma.

This leads to amusing escapades, such as buying the land over which the kingdom floats by letting a humble farmer take anything he wanted from Asgard’s treasure vaults. It also involved convincing Iron Man that, because it’s floating and not on American soil, the kingdom is not subject to US laws. Unfortunately, things literally come crashing to the ground when the city is attacked by the US-backed Green Goblin, who managed to convince America that the gods were a threat before having Superman-esque hero Sentry completely destroy Asgard.

3Many Of His Powers Are In Mjolnir Itself

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Speaking of Superman, Thor shares a unique quality with that DC hero: Over the years, writers have given him more abilities than any but the most devout reader can remember. In addition to swinging his hammer, Mjolnir, Thor can control the weather, open huge chasms within the Earth, and even use his ultra-powerful “god blast.” However, one thing casual fans of only the Marvel movies likely don’t know is that almost all of Thor’s powers come from the hammer itself.

Thor’s god blast, as well as the planet-destroying thermo blast and anti-force, all come directly from Mjolnir, as does Thor’s ability to fly. In fact, unlike Superman, Thor doesn’t properly fly at all: He simply throws the hammer with super strength and holds on to “fly” to his destination. Depending on the needs of the writers over the years, the hammer has also helped Thor teleport, travel back and forth in time, and kill vampires.

2He Was Replaced By His Girlfriend

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Photo credit: Marvel

Thor, being a god, has gone through more deaths and resurrections than is normal even by comic standards. In 2014, however, he came back in Thor #1 like he never had before—as a woman. This was part of Marvel striving to bring more diversity to their comics (it happened around the same time that the Falcon took over as Captain America, for instance), and they kept the lid on the female Thor’s true identity for over half a year before revealing that it was actually Jane Foster, Thor’s human girlfriend who was played on-screen by Natalie Portman.

It turned out that her transformation was simple: After Nick Fury whispered some terrible secret in the original Thor’s ear, he was suddenly no longer worthy to wield his hammer. Jane Foster managed to pick it up and, after years of watching Thor use it, knew exactly what to do. She turned out to be a good study, too, as in no time at all she was battling evil gods and frost giants, and, like the original Thor, getting judged as unworthy by his father, Odin.

1He Was Once Written As A Hippie Cult Leader

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As we’ve covered before, much of the groundwork for Marvel’s popular movie universe was laid down years ago in their Ultimate line of comics. These comics take place in a separate universe, giving writers creative freedoms not tethered to continuity and ensuring that readers didn’t have to know decades of character trivia. One of the amusing twists in the Ultimate universe is that it was quite a while before there was any confirmation of Thor being a god. Rather, he was presented as a down-to-earth leftist who wrote books about the dangers of America and the military-industrial complex and was revered by his young, hippie followers.

This led to additional weirdness when Thor’s followers poured both beer and insults on Captain America, whom they saw as the embodiment of the country that Thor had been criticizing for so long. And while his power with the hammer is undeniable, it is not until the 13th issue of Ultimates’ second volume, in which he led an army of gods to Earth, that the heroes realized he wasn’t simply a very political human with a very powerful hammer.

@PocketEpiphany is worthy enough to pull on Thor’s hammer.

fact checked by Jamie Frater