Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thor-ology


A top-five list on the Cracked Magazine website isn't exactly the first place you'd expect to find theological insight. But Thor grabbed the #2 spot on their recent list of "5 Upcoming Comic Book Movies That Must Be Stopped," and their rationale includes this discussion of his origin:
The origin of the comic god goes like this: The arrogant Thor needs a lesson in humility, so his father Odin, the ruler of all gods, sends him to Earth in the form of a crippled mortal to teach him to be humble. When Thor finally learns his shits do stink, his mortal form dies off and he is allowed to become himself again.

This spiritual lesson serves to confirm two things: Being handicapped is God's way of punishing you for religious transgressions, and to the son of God, Earth is essentially a giant time-out where instead of facing a corner for five minutes you live a short, challenging life rife with confusion and pain until you are eventually allowed to die.

Granted, Cracked got the origin story wrong—there's nothing about Donald Blake dying; he becomes Thor again when he finds his hammer—but the insight still stands. Something always bugged me about Thor's Don Blake persona, and it wasn't just that he was the most character-less alter ego in the Marvel stable. Blake is essentially the incarnation of a deity, and the nature of that incarnation says some dark things about the way the universe is run.

Co-posted on SF Gospel

2 comments:

Axel M. Gruner said...

Well, about the Marvel universe for sure. Essentially Manichean. Mix in Marvel's Loki as a Satanic figure, and "Thor" is a sharply dualistic story where Good and Evil incarnate fight over Humanity, while the True God (Odin) is far removed and does not interfere on behalf of the mortal.

Maureen said...

Yeah, but Odin clearly thinks that learning and wisdom is best acquired for oneself by suffering and death.

Seeing as Odin indeed crippled himself (it's all fun and games until you take your eye out) as well as hanging himself on the World Ash Tree, you have to say the Thor comic is not inconsistent with the Norse mythological worldview.

But really, the problem with the story is that Odin made Thor go. If Thor had chosen to go to earth and live as a non-blond guy with a limp, that'd be different.

(And of course Thor looks much more like Freyr than Thor, but that's another argument altogether.)