10 Things to Know About Thor

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Disney/Marvel

Marvel's god of thunder returns to the big screen this weekend in Thor: The Dark World, and even though we've already had two films featuring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, it's understandable if your level of expertise is far from godly when it comes to the Silver Age superhero. 

The creation of Stan Lee, Larry Lieber (Lee's younger brother), and Jack Kirby, Thor was one of several iconic Marvel characters to debut in the early 1960s, and was based on the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder and protector of the Earth. And much like in Marvel's cinematic universe, he was also one of the founding members of The Avengers in the pages of Marvel's comics. 

Here are 10 more things to know about Thor.

1. The character Thor made his first appearance in the August 1962 issue of Journey into Mystery. His premiere in issue #83 of that series wasn't the only big thing to happen in the Marvel Comics world that month, though: Also hitting shelves was Amazing Fantasy #15, the comic that introduced Spider-Man to the world.

2. In just a few years, Thor's popularity rose to the point where Marvel applied to have the comic-book character's full title (and the full title of the series), The Mighty Thor, protected by a trademark. The publisher was granted the trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1970.

3. Thor: The Dark World was filmed in England under the working title “Thursday Mourning,” a reference to the day of the week originally known as “Thor's Day.”

4. According to Norse mythology, Thor and the other gods of Asgard gain their immortality from eating the magical Golden Apples of Idunn, which grow in Asgard and can only be picked by the goddess Idunn. This is also the case for the Marvel Comics version of Thor, who has periodically returned to Asgard in order to renew his immortality.

5. The magical hammer Mjolnir isn't the only weapon Thor relies upon in the Marvel Comics universe. His enchanted Belt of Strength is also an important—if frequently overlooked—element of his arsenal, as it enhances his strength to almost double its otherwise impressive level. In Norse mythology, these two items are accompanied by magical, iron gloves that allow him to wield Mjolnir.

6. While Thor's powers have changed over time like most other comic-book superheroes, the mechanics behind his ability to “fly” have remained relatively (by comic book standards, at least) stable over the years. In the Marvel Comics universe, when Thor needs to get from one place to another through the air, he throws his hammer into the sky and hangs on to the strap. The hammer then pulls him through the air to his destination. When he needs to hover in mid-air, he twirls the hammer around like the rotor of a helicopter, which keeps him suspended above the ground. 

7. One of the many magical enchantments affecting Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, is that only those deemed worthy to wield its power are able to lift it. Several other characters over time have displayed this worthiness by wielding Mjolnir, including (but not limited to) Captain America, the alien Beta Ray Bill (the first character to wield Mjolnir outside of Marvel's Norse gods), and the human Eric Masterson (who briefly assumed the role of Thor). A sliver of Mjolnir was also wielded by Throg, a former football player who was turned into a frog and then assisted Thor during the period when he had been transformed into a frog by Loki (but more on that later). 

8. The Mighty Thor we're familiar with now was not the first version of Thor to appear in the pages of Marvel's comics. A short-lived series about the character Venus—based on the Roman goddess—introduced a character based on Thor.

9. In both Marvel's comics and Norse mythology, Thor's affection for Earth stems from his mother's influence. Thor is the child of Odin and the feminine personification of Earth, known as Gaea in Marvel's universe (and various other mythologies) and as Jörð in Norse mythology (her other Norse names include Fjörgyn and Hlóðyn). Thor was originally not made aware of his true mother's identity, and was told he was the child of Odin and Frigga. 

10. Thor once spent several issues of The Mighty Thor as a frog after falling prey to one of Loki's magical schemes. The story, which was penned by celebrated Thor writer Walter Simonson in 1986 and lasted for four issues, saw Thor end up in Central Park and lead a clan of frogs into battle against a horde of rats. He eventually returned to Asgard to reclaim his identity, but not before leaving a shard of Mjolnir behind for one of his amphibian allies, a frog named Puddlegulp. That frog eventually became a warrior known as Throg, and wields a pint-sized version of Mjolnir as part of Marvel's recent “Pet Avengers” team.

And there you have it, folks: Ten facts you can bust out before (or after) watching Thor: The Dark World in order to show your comics cred. However, if you really want to seem like a bona fide fan of Marvel's god of thunder, make sure you learn how to pronounce “Mjolnir” correctly. It's sort of a big deal.

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November 8, 2013 - 11:00am
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