Thor is not just the god of thunder. He's also one of the Avengers and has saved the world. Twice.
In Friday's “Thor: The Dark World,” the hammer-swinging hero will come to the aid of both men and the residents of Asgard, the world of Thor, Loki and all the other gods.
If you're not caught up on your Marvel Comics movies or Thor's backstory, we're here to help with info on the protagonists, Thor and Loki, and this film's supervillian, Malekith the Accursed.
The Main Characters
First appearance: "Journey Into Mystery" No. 83 (1962)
In the comics: Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby, Thor was sent to Earth to be taught humility. Entering the body of Donald Blake, he discovers Thor's hammer, disguised as a stick. Whenever Blake wanted to become Thor, he'd strike the stick against the ground.
In the movies: Played by Chris Hemsworth, Thor was cast out of Asgard, the home of the gods, and was powerless for a time during 2011's "Thor." After regaining his hammer, Mjolnir, he fought his brother, Loki, and defeated him. In 2012's "Avengers," Thor returned to Earth to help the Avengers battle Loki and an assembled army of aliens called Chitauri.
In mythology: Associated with strength, thunder, fertility and healing, Thor is a red-haired, red-bearded, hammer-wielding Norse god known for his fierce battles. His name is the basis for the day of the week Thursday.
First appearance: "Journey Into Mystery" No. 85 (1962)
In the comics: The adopted brother of Thor, Loki is the god of mischief and deceit. Upset that he's viewed unfavorably compared to the strong, brave Thor, Loki often tries to take over Asgard and/or destroy Thor.
In the movies: Played by Tom Hiddleston, Loki uses a whole lot of deceptive magic to take down Thor and replace their father as king of Asgard. The events of "Thor" don't go so well for him. In "Avengers," he gets a powerful Asgardian artifact and an alien army to take over Earth.
In mythology: A shape shifting jötunn (a Norse giant), Loki sometimes helps the gods and sometimes troubles them. He's eventually captured and bound by Thor.
MALEKITH THE ACCUSED
First appearance: "Thor" No. 344 (1966)
In the comics: The ruler of the dark elves, Malekith battled Thor and murdered his friends to get the Casket of Ancient Winters, an Asgardian artifact that contained the power of a thousand deadly winters.
In the movies: Played by Christopher Eccleston, Malekith is the main villain of "Thor: the Dark World." After being defeated and imprisoned by Thor's father long ago, Malekith and his forces are awoken in the present day and ready to fight.
In mythology: Called the dökkálfar, Norse dark elves live underground and though they appear "blacker than pitch," they're not necessarily evil.
Why We Love Thor
» Tom Hiddleston, the British actor who plays Loki, is the main attraction for Omahan Nicole Waddell. Hiddleston, who has been called “Hollywood's nicest man,” is much-loved by fans and is a pretty good sport about being Loki. He appeared in character at Comic-Con International and in a recent spoof on Comedy Central. “(Hiddleston) seems quite charming,” Waddell said. “I think Loki, as a character, is quite compelling as well.”
» Jared Cvetas of Omaha loves comic books, and one of his favorite characters is Thor, which he loves because of the fantasy elements. “As a kid, my brother had a subscription to Thor, and I devoured those books. I had Mjolnir (Thor's hammer) engraved into my bowling ball because it returns to my hand.”
» Some of the Marvel Comics characters so closely follow the mythology that Joe Patrick, manager of Legend Comics & Coffee in Omaha, wrote a paper in elementary school on the Norse gods using only his knowledge of the comics. He got an A.
Click the links below to see images of the comic covers.
This thunder god fella we've been watching in the movies sprang from the pages of comic books. We bet you know that, but with more than 50 years of Marvel comic books featuring the character, you might not know where to start if you want a good Thor story. We're here to help.
» “Thor” No. 344 (view No. 347) to 349: The dark elf Malekith the Accursed's first appears in “Thor” No. 344 where he takes control of the Casket of Ancient Winters and releases its cold magic all over Earth. And, of course, he battles Thor.
» “Thor: The Wild Hunt”: Currently being published in the pages of “Thor: God of Thunder,” Thor must recruit new allies to track down Malekith, who has his sights set on invading Earth. The adventure began with “Thor: God of Thunder” No. 13 and it will end with issue No. 17, which is out on Jan. 15.
» “Frog of Thunder”: For a couple issues back in 1986, Thor was magically turned into a 6-foot-6 frog. Yeah, it's as goofy as it sounds.
» “The Surtur Saga”: Thor, Loki and Odin put aside their differences to fight Surtur, a fiery demon that was prophesied to destroy the gods in the apocalyptic Ragnarok.
» “Ages of Thunder”: The story of Thor in both the films and comics centers around how Thor is cast out of Asgard by his father, Odin, for being too arrogant. Three comics — “Ages of Thunder,” “Reign of Blood” and “Man of War” — detail Thor's power and his downfall.
During more than 50 years of appearing in Marvel Comics, Thor has gone on hundreds of adventures. Unless you're a huge fan of the god of thunder, they're not all amazing. But some of them are excellent reading.
We spoke to Omahan Joe Patrick, co-host of the popular Two-Headed Nerd comics podcast, about his favorite Thor stories told in the comics.
» "Thor: God of Thunder" by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic: Malekith, the villian from "Thor: The Dark World," is currently appearing in this story. "The whole series has been phenomenal - one of the best Thor stories of all time," Patrick said.
» "Thor" by J. Michael Stracznski, which leads into "The Mighty Thor" by Matt Fraction: "These aren't everyone's favorite stories, but (Two-Headed Nerd co-host) Matt (Baum) and I liked them. The early issues deal with the Asgardians return to life following Ragnarok."
» "Avengers Disassembled: Thor" - "Marvel's marketing tried to sell this as an event tie-in when its really a straight-up story about the Thor and the other Asgardians facing Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse. Thor was out of the picture for quite a while until JMS relaunched his series."
» "Thor" by Dan Jurgens and John Romita Jr. (at least the first 25 issues/4 volumes) - "This was the return of Thor following the grim events of Heroes Reborn. A nice back-to-basics cosmic approach."