The Asgardian God of Thunder, Thor Odinson has been a crucial part of Marvel Comics since 1962. As one of the founding members of Avengers, Thor’s storyline has always been different from the rest, because of his literal God status. His hammer Mjolnir has its own prominence and together, they make for a powerful combo.
Thor comics debuted around the same time as other Avengers, and became an instant hit. His first appearance was in the “Journey into Mystery” series, created by artist Jack Kirby, writer Stan Lee, and scripted by Larry Lieber. The merging of science fiction and fantasy themes worked well for audiences, because Thor was not a human with superpowers – he was a God, with a complex history of his own. “How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don’t make him human – make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends,” Stan Lee stated.
Thor’s appearance mirrored the Norse God, with long, flowy hair, helmets and weapons. As for the design, Kirby had created an alternate version of Thor for DC comics in the late 1950s, and some of those details were retained in the Marvel version. The Thor legends of Norse mythology were blended seamlessly with modern storylines, and the world was introduced to the iconic character. He was strong enough to lift 20 planets at a time, possessed keen senses, was worthy of lifting the charmed hammer, and had a lifespan long enough to be considered immortal. In fact, during a battle, he held the capacity of going into such a trance, it would increase his strength and skills ten fold.
Thor’s story was handled tactfully because it followed different worlds and timelines. Only a masterful creator could lead audiences perfectly through it. In December 1966, Thor’s Mjolnir received its name in the “Tales of Asgard” series. Post 1970, Kirby and Lee left the creation of Thor comics onto Joy Buscema, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, and Roy Thomas. During their stint, they attempted to link Thor with his roots more often, sidelining the modernisation aspect. Thor has been dealt with by varied creators over the years, which is why he cannot be pinned to one genre or theme. While some focused on his origins, others led him through challenges on Earth.
In the 1990s, along with other heroes, Thor was removed from the mainstream Marvel Universe for a year, to explore alternate universes. He eventually returned in 1998. As for Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, she was introduced alongside him in 1962 as Jane Nelson. Although initially introduced as a nurse, Jane was later revealed to be worthy of holding Thor’s hammer, and even joined the Avengers for a brief period.
Thor received his live action portrayal in 1988. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Thor debuted in 2011, brought to life by Chris Hemsworth. In Avengers: Endgame, the mighty Thor was given an unexpected twist both in terms of appearance and story. He was portrayed as unfit and lost, as a way of redeeming himself after failing to kill Thanos. However, \the twist received mixed responses from fans, some appreciating the PTSD angle while others expressing disappointment over the lack of Thor action. After 3 single films and several integrated ones, Thor is set to return to the MCU in 2022 in Thor: Love and Thunder.