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The Hero’s Journey: The God of Thunder Thor

In Scandinavian mythology, Thor is the god of thunder, rain, storms, and fertility. Thor always stood out among others, and on his eighth birthday, Odin gave Mjolnir, a hammer enchanted with extraordinary magic. However, he could get it when he proved that he was a worthy warrior. The way of becoming Thor, the valiant king, can be explained by twelve nodal steps that form one of the flexible maps of “Hero’s Journey” in plot construction. According to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, twelve points represent a repeating sequence of stages. They are “Ordinary World”, “Call to Adventure”, “Refusal of the Call”, “Meeting with the Mentor”, “Crossing the Threshold”, “Tests, Allies, Enemies”, “Approach to the Inmost Cave”, “Ordeal”, “Reward”, “The Road Back”, “Resurrection”, “Return with the Elixir” (“Interpretations of Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey” 1). The paper aims to describe the journey, overcoming obstacles, and returning home story of the mythical Scandinavian god Thor revived in the Marvel movies through these twelve stages and three acts.

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There are three acts in which all stages of travel are grouped. Act 1 is the separation from the Hero’s ordinary world, and Act 2 is the initiation that states accepting challenges in an extraordinary world. Act 3 is the return, which explains the results of the Hero’s actions (Jolly). Thor is another example of a hero that follows these acts during the journey.

Thor’s “Ordinary World” is Asgard, where the lord is the supreme god Odin, his father. Asgard is one of the three cosmogonic worlds of German-Scandinavian mythology created by the triad of demiurge gods: the brothers Odin, Vili, and Ve (Wilkinson 91). Therefore, it is a world of gods and people deprived of a supernatural power in which Thor should become the next ruler. Thor is cocky, prevalent, presumptuous, and still a boy at heart.

Nevertheless, a new event forces the story to take the form of a challenge or offer of adventure. As Whomsley states, “destiny calls the hero, transferring his spiritual center of gravity”, in “Call to Adventure”, Thor had to accept a new challenge to restore order in the kingdom (220). The ice giants burst into the weapons vault and tried to steel casket. Instead of behaving nobly and worthy of the future king, finding alternative ways of responding to the frost giant’s invasion to protect Asgard, he boldly decided to go against his father. Odin was trying to make Thor grow, and he wanted him to be wise, and therefore forbade to do anything in an attempt to make Thor turn inward. In other words, it was a call for growth in the inner world of the character.

Thor had fizzled the test and denied the call to develop. Loki manipulated Thor to oppose their father, and Thor persuaded his companions, the Woman Sif and the Warriors Three, to go with him. Being illegal after assaulting the Ice Monsters, they had to be protected by Odin, who used all conciliatory aptitudes to return his son unscathed. Unconditionally, it may seem that he answered the call while fighting against monsters; in reality, it was the refusal of his obligations and the desire to continue to live in the youthful dream of control. He was careless, selfish, and reckless; therefore, it was “Refusal of the call”.

Thor’s mentor was his father, who showed leadership and insight. The problem was that Thor did not follow his father’s teachings. After the Jotunheim disaster, Odin punished Thor for starting a new battle with the Ice Mammoths. Odin told his son that he was not worth being a lord and drove him out of Asgard. Thor was forced, reluctantly or not, to change, being expelled from his ordinary world. It was “Crossing the Threshold” stage, perhaps due to despair or faith. Finding himself in another universe amid a magnetic storm, the exiled prince became acquainted with a new world, unfamiliar and alien.

From the moment the Hero began his journey in a unique world, he faced new enemies and emotional realities. Thor’s main enemy was his brother Loki, who was the son of the king of Ice Giants. Odin took Loki to Asgard and used him to bring peace between the two worlds. Loki realized that he would never become the king of Asgard. Therefore, he decided to gain power in a vile way by killing his adoptive father. Thor’s enemy was the agent Coulson’s people and S.H.I.E.L.D., who stole all of Jane’s records, hardware, and equipment. Having identified his allies and enemies, Thor approaches the next test. Thor planned to pick up his hammer and, together with Jane, tried to get to the crater at night. Thor said he would go in and pick up Mjolnir, promising to return Jane’s research. This stage of attempting to raise the hammer is an “Approach to the Inmost Cave”.

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However, the Hero could not raise the hammer, and at that moment, he felt powerless, as if being pushed to the edge. This condition can be compared to the symbolic death of the Hero. He heard from Loki about his father’s death, he is expelled from his home and is not worthy of being the hammer’s owner. This stage is also called the “Abyss” since it is the lowest point of Hero’s inner state (“Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop”). Therefore, humiliation and failure during “Ordeal” transformed Thor’s personality from an impudent and impulsive boy to a wise and calm individual.

The Hero realized his failure and fear, but the most important was to overcome them and move on. Thor kept his promise and returned Jane’s notebook, thanking and apologizing for everything. This stage of the personality transformation is called the “Reward”. The Hero realized his opponents, survived the test and received a reward, but this was not the end of his journey. Thor found out that his father was still alive and that Loki had seized the throne by force. Therefore, he had to “Return” to his ordinary world and use new skills. It was the second turning point that led to the final act.

Thor had to offer his life in exchange for the lives of innocent people. At this moment, Mjolnir broke out of the earth and came to Thor. Thor destroyed the monster and returned to its former divine splendor, and there was no more arrogance. It is a classic scenario of death and “Resurrection”, but it is not the final culmination of the story. He brought to Asgard the “Elixir”, such as wisdom, freedom, love, and knowledge. Loki was determined to prove that he was a worthy son, saving Odin’s life and killing the Ice Giants, despite Thor trying to stop him. Thor was able to destroy the Rainbow Bridge to stop Loki but lost contact with Jane. He understood himself and his world and became a real Hero.

In conclusion, Thor’s story is one of the great myths about growing up, overcoming difficulties, and heroic deeds. The stages through which the Hero passes put him face to face with his personality. Thor completed his Hero’s Journey, turning from a swift, pompous prince into a brooding, wise king. Thus, the idea is to extinguish ego, impulsiveness, and reborn as a new person worthy to rule the kingdom.

Works Cited

“Interpretations of Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey.” Michigan State University, 2020. Web.

Jolly, David. “Joseph Campbell’s 17 Stages of the Hero’s Journey.” 2020. Web.

“Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop.” Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. University of Kansas, 2020. Web.

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Whomsley, Dave. “Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Introduction to World Mythology: Contemporary Approaches to Classical and World Myth, edited by Eva M. Thury and Margaret K. Devinney. Oxford UP, 2017.

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