BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME
FB@The Comic Blog
There has been more than one Thor over the years, but which one is the best version of the God of Thunder? Whether it’s changing his look or a completely different character, let’s rank the best Thors in Marvel Comics.
10. THOR 2099
FIRST APPEARANCE: Punisher 2099 #10
When Marvel rolled out its futuristic spinoffs of its characters, they must have been looking for another comic universe to thrive for years on end. Unfortunately, the plan fell short, but we did get some interesting variants. Marvel has tried to resurrect the idea a handful of times, and its most famous character, Spider-Man 2099, will get his starring role in the first part of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Could that open the door for other 2099 characters, including the futuristic Thor?
Of course, this isn’t Thor Odinson, which actually would have made sense, being that he is an ageless god. Instead, it’s a guy posing as the Thunder God. Cecil McAdam was a Thor worshiper in 2099. In fact, he was Reverend McAdam, and he jumped at the chance to get nanotech upgrades to cosplay as Thor. He even recruited four other followers to join him as engineered Norse gods, including Loki, Hela, and Hiemdall. While the false gods thought they were serving a greater purpose, they were actually manipulated into protecting a floating city from the other superheroes.
The trouble with pretending to be an immortal god is that you learn the hard way that you are, in fact, not immortal. So in a fight with the X-Men 2099, Cecil was killed when his nanotech powers were switched to the off position. You’ve got to hate when that happens.
FIRST APPEARANCE: THOR #364
The Frog of Thunder has already hopped into our hearts thanks to that Loki cameo. When the God of Mischief and his variants were wandering around the void, audiences spotted a frog trapped in a jar and buried underground. This particular frog was dressed in classic Thor attire and desperately reached for Mjolnir that was just out of reach. Comic fans instantly got the allusion to Throg.
Actually, there were two frog Thors. The first was Thor whom Loki turned into a frog. Along the way, the Frog of Thunder met another frog named Puddlegup. Together, they fought alligators and other creatures before Thor returned to his human form. Years later, Puddlegup touched a shard of Mjolnir and gained the powers of the Thunder God. That character was dubbed Throg, and he would even go on to join the Asgardians of the Galaxy.
Since we’ve already seen either Throg or the Frog of Thunder in Loki, it would not be out of the question for him to return. This would make sense for either Love and Thunder, the second season of Loki, or perhaps both. One way or another, the MCU is about to get froggy.
8. THOR II/THUNDERSTRIKE
FIRST APPEARANCE (AS THOR II): Thor #432
FIRST APPEARANCE (AS THUNDERSTRIKE): THOR #459
Before Eric Masterson became Thunderstrike and later passed the title to his son, Kevin, he was a Thor. Actually, he was THE God of Thunder in a weird twist of events.
Beginning in 1989, Eric joined bodies with Thor. This was an ode to the Thunder God’s Marvel origins when he was trapped inside the mortal body of the disabled Dr. Donald Blake. By the ‘70s, the editorial staff did away with Blake and separated the two.
This time around, things were different. Instead of Eric tapping a walking staff to become Thor’s mortal host, Masterson was in control of Thor’s body. That gave him all the power of the Norse God of Thunder but Eric’s mind was driving the car. In fact, it was the Eric Masterson Thor who joined the fight against Thanos in the original George Perez Infinity Gauntlet. For four years, Eric sported a new helmet that covered the eyes and an epic beard. He would later change the costume, and we see hints of this in the Thor’s Ravager suit for Love and Thunder.
What’s had everyone hot for those Thunderstrike/Thor II keys is Thor’s Love and Thunder look, which was inspired by the second God of Thunder. When Eric was separated from Thor’s body, he was given his very own magical hammer made from the shards of Mjolnir. Taking up the codename Thunderstrike, Eric slapped on the famous vest and jeans and starred in his own short-lived series.
7. THOR, HERALD OF GALACTUS
FIRST APPEARANCE: Thor #1 (2020)
Only a couple years ago, Thor partnered with Galactus and served as his herald. Following in the footsteps of Silver Surfer and many others before him, Thor agreed to help Galactus if only to save Asgard.
This may sound like Silver Surfer’s origin story and how he gained the power cosmic, but there is a twist. A weakened Galactus comes plummeting to Asgard, but he isn’t there to consume the Viking-themed planet. Instead, he warns Thor of the coming of Black Winter, a sentient galactic plague that will wipe out all life, including the World Tree. The deal is that Thor must become Galactus’ herald, and together they will fight Black Winter.
Thor reluctantly accepts the offer, but their relationship is tumultuous. They bicker amongst themselves, and Thor routinely strikes Galactus with his hammer, sometimes making the cosmic god vomit. At his size, that must be like a waterfall of disgust that could drown an entire city.
When the adventure is complete and Black Winter is dealt with, Thor relinquishes the power cosmic and returns to Asgard.
6. HEROES REBORN THOR
FIRST APPEARANCE: Avengers, Vol. 2., #1
In 1996, Marvel did sort of a reset on its most famous properties. As ‘90s comic readers know, this was a decade of the great crossover. One crossover inevitably lead into another. Strangely enough, Heroes Reborn began with a large-scale X-Men story, Onslaught. While it has ‘90s nostalgia oozing from every pore, this was a major deal at the time. Of course, Onslaught was born from X-Tinction Agenda, famous for Magneto ripping the adamantium out of Wolverine. To stop his former friend, Professor X invaded Magneto’s mind, basically making him a vegetable. The problem was that a piece of Eric Lehnsherr’s psyche burrowed its way into Charles Xavier’s subconscious. Like a worm, it dug its way into Xavier’s mind, and the most powerful X-Men villain to the point was created.
At first, Onslaught was strictly an X-Men problem, but he quickly became a threat to the entire Marvel Universe. This led to a full attack by heroes and villains alike. The Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and Doctor Doom sacrificed their lives to destroy Onslaught. Although the rest of the Marvel-616 thought them dead, the heroes were transported to an alternate timeline. Superstar artists Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld took the reins and retold the characters’ origins with a modern spin.
As the story goes, the entire world - dubbed Counter Earth - was created by Franklin Richards. While all the other heroes were themselves, Franklin could not transport Thor. Instead, this was a copy of Thor created for Counter Earth.
Although Heroes Reborn mostly lives in infamy thanks to Liefeld’s Captain America artwork and a ridiculously oversized chest, there were positives to come out of the FF/Avengers crossover. It gave Marvel a chance to take Thor back to his roots, returning him to a version of his classic ‘60s look complete with winged helmet. Liefeld also gave him a strength upgrade. It was a great nostalgia moment, and despite the negative feelings towards Heroes Reborn, Thor looked great.
5. KING THOR
FIRST APPEARANCE: Thor: God of Thunder #1
Old Man Thor is a key ingredient in the stories of the Goddess of Thunder and Gorr the God Butcher. Writer Jason Aaron first introduced this older, wiser Thor in the prelude to Jane’s run as Lady Thor. Set in the distant future, Thor has taken on the role of Odin. He is king of Asgard, complete with white hair, beard, and an eye patch. In the prelude, he is telling the tale of the Goddess of Thunder to his daughters.
What makes King Thor powerful is that he has gained wisdom in his old age. Since he is a god, he can still throw down with the strongest forces in the Marvel-616. In fact, he would do just that during Donny Cates’ Thor run years later. Before that, he would settle his feud with Gorr, who had become nearly invincible as the Necroverse, a being completely consumed by Knull’s Necrosword.
4. BETA RAY BILL
FIRST APPEARANCE: Thor #337
Before Eric Masterson took up Mjolnir in Thor’s body, there was Beta Ray Bill. Looking like a horse mixed with a human, the alien ran into Thor, who was soaring through the cosmos. As the two fought, Bill proved himself worthy of the Thunder God and wielded Mjolnir. Eventually, Thor and Bill would join forces, and Odin gave the alien his very own hammer, Stormbreaker.
Everyone wants to see Beta Ray Bill in the MCU, and he just might appear in Love and Thunder. There’s a theory making the rounds that a CGI character is missing from a few frames in the Thor 4 teaser trailer. The moment is when Thor, decked out in his Thunderstrike vest, is standing next to Korg as the two look up at the camera. While it doesn’t seem like much at first glance, some YouTube sleuths are speculating that a third person was edited out of those frames. Why would Marvel do this? They pulled off the feat for Spider-Man: No Way Home to keep from revealing all three Spider-Men swinging into action together, and it may be a similar story here.
Who knows if any of that is true? If it is, there’s no telling what character Marvel is keeping under wraps. With Zeus making his MCU debut, it would be logical for that to be Hercules. Then again, editing out an actual person would be more obvious, I would think. Taking out a CGI character would seem like less trouble since the actor is green screened anyway. And what CGI character makes the most sense for a movie with multiple gods of Thunder? Beta Ray Bill.
Remember that he was teased in Ragnarok with his face on the Grandmaster’s tower. Kevin Feige has confirmed that a Bill cameo was planned as a joke for the third Thor movie, but Feige nixed the idea because he wanted to save Beta Ray’s debut for something more grand. Could this be the right time to unveil the horse-faced alien superhero? The dots certainly connect.
3. JANE FOSTER, THE GODDESS OF THUNDER
FIRST APPEARANCE: Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool #0
Back in 2015, I was as skeptical as the rest of the comic community when I first heard that Marvel was replacing Thor Odinson. Nine times out of ten, replacements don’t work. Many times, it becomes the “New Coke versus Coke Classic” market campaign; switch out the popular formula to create nostalgia for the original. When the original returns, that nostalgia translates into major sales. The thing is, comic publishers wouldn't do it if it didn’t work. In this case, Jason Aaron created magic in an unexpected place.
In the beginning, there were two big mysteries to Aaron’s epic story. First, why did Thor become unworthy of Mjolnir? Second, who was the woman under the helmet? Meanwhile, Jane Foster was dying of cancer. By the time the big reveal came along that Jane had actually been moonlighting as the Goddess of Thunder, it was a surprising and interesting twist.
What made it better was the cancer plot. Jane’s mortal body was deteriorating, but she ignored her illness and medical treatment while galivanting as the Protector of Midgard. As you progress through the issues, you know that a moment is coming when Jane has to deal with reality. Her death, albeit brief, was impactful because it was foreshadowed many times over with the cancer plot.
Love and Thunder, like Ragnarok, appears to be a straightforward comedy. This could be deceiving. Director Taika Waititi proved his prowess in Jo-Jo Rabbit, and he can handle the sudden twist from comedy to moving drama. If Marvel allows him to tell Aaron’s full saga on the silver screen complete with Jane’s death, mainstream audiences could be in for a massive shock.
2. RUNE KING THOR
FIRST APPEARANCE: Thor #84 (2004)
By far, this is the most powerful version of Thor in the character’s Marvel history. He is on par with Captain Universe in his cosmic powers.
How did Thor Odinson become the Rune King? Similar to the setup for Love and Thunder, Thor goes on a side quest all by himself. Instead of searching for inner peace, he wanders the universe on a mission for knowledge. In the end, Thor mastered both the runestones and the Odinforce. Combined together, it took Thor from God of Thunder to just plain capital-G God.
The problem with characters this powerful is finding interesting things for them to do. Overpowered characters become boring very quickly because there’s no one that can stand up to them. They are much more entertaining as villains because then you can root for the underdog. This is why there are so many takes on Evil Superman. When you can do anything and you’re nigh unstoppable, there’s only so many stories to tell before the audience loses interest.
There’s been a debate about whether or not Marvel Studios would use Rune King Thor or some variation of the character. Most fans say no, but I say yes. In fact, I wonder if we could see the overpowered Thor in Love and Thunder. Much like that amazing moment in Infinity War when, after years of waiting, we finally got to see a serious God of Thunder with a chip on his shoulder, Thor could break out the runestones and the Odinforce for an epic battle with a Necrosword-wielding God Butcher. It would be short lived, and Thor would give back the power after the fight.
1. ULTIMATE THOR
FIRST APPEARANCE: ULTIMATES #4
In the early 2000s, you’ve got to hand it to Marvel for changing things up. One of their first efforts is one that is sorely missed: the Ultimate Marvel Universe. This was a more mature take on the classic heroes with some slight twists to their origin stories. While the spirit of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko remained from their ‘60s origins, Mark Millar got the ball rolling with a violent and more grounded take on the Avengers. In many ways, these versions inspired those we see in the MCU.
Thor was never any cooler than he was in the Ultimate Universe’s take on the Avengers, the government-funded military operation codenamed the Ultimates. Thor’s costume was stripped to the basics. No more winged helmet and bright flowing cape. Odin’s favorite son embraced his Viking roots, growing out his beard and going a bit more savage than we were used to seeing him. The best part was Mjolnir. While not following any Norse myth in its inspiration, this magic weapon was so much more awesome. Half of it was a hammer while the other was a massive battle ax. We see the same concept in the MCU’s vision of Stormbreaker, but it doesn’t compare with the sheer badassery of the Ultimate Mjolnir.