The Marvel universe can get a little wild sometimes. Case in point: Toothghasher and Toothgrinder, Thor’s magical goats who pull his royal chariot. Yes, folks, we said Marvel has magic goats. And both enchanted beasts made their cinematic debuts in Thor: Love and Thunder. Welcome to the MCU, Thor’s goats.
But where did such an outlandish concept come from? Was it just 1970s Marvel writers, high as kites and thinking up wild ideas? Nope, the two loyal goats of the Odinson came straight from Norse mythology. We can’t wait to meet the MCU version of Thor’s goats, but first, let’s get to know their history. From mythology to Marvel comics, here’s the skinny on these two magical Asgardian bucks.
Who Are Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, Thor’s Goats From Norse Mythology?
Although technically the goats we’ll see in Thor: Love and Thunder were created by Marvel writer Steve Englehart and artist John Buscema for Thor Annual #5 in 1976, these kids had their roots in actual Norse Mythology. Englehart and Buscema based them on Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, the war goats who pulled Thor’s chariot in mythology. Tanngrisnir translates roughly as “teeth barer or snarler,” while Tanngnjóstr is literally “tooth grinder.” In mythology, they served a fairly gruesome purpose for the Thunder God. Thor could kill them, cook them, and eat them, and the next day they would magically resurrect. Rinse, wash, repeat. In a sense, that makes Thor’s goats immortal. However, if someone sucked the marrow from their bones, then their resurrected forms would be unable to walk. (Look, mythology gets weird sometimes).
In Marvel comics, these goats would become known as Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder homaging their mythological roots.
The Marvel Comics Origins of Thor’s Mighty Goats
When it comes to Marvel Comics, like most beloved characters, Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder have their own origin story. And, in this case, their tale also helps explain why Thor has goats and not horses at the head of his chariots in Marvel’s comics. Although, as mentioned, Thor’s goats were first created by Englehart and Buscema in 1976, in 2011 they received their origin story in Marvel Comics’ Journey Into the Mystery #623. In what will come as no surprise to Thor fans, we can blame/thank Thor’s brother Loki for bringing Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder into the picture.
When the two Sons of Odin were children living in Asgard, Loki decided to trick his brother in an effort to embarrass him. Loki convinced his lunkhead of a brother that everyone in the Nine Realms would be more impressed with his steeds if they weren’t like everyone else’s. So Loki showed his brother Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder, the enchanted “Lords of the Goats.”
What made these goats so special? Well, for starters, they were so stubborn, that their “will could be broken by no man, elf, or God.” Although Thor, always up for a challenge, attempted to do just that. Thor’s future goats also had a number of powers at their disposal in the Marvel Comics’ universe. For one, they could travel through the universe at lightning-fast speed. And on top of that, energy bolts could fly out of their hooves. To capture them, Thor had a dwarf create the Bregd-Thrall, a magical bridle able to subdue any animal. And though that worked, when young Thor arrived in Asgard with mighty goat steeds instead of horses… they all laughed at him. Loki’s humiliation plan worked.
Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder: A Thunder God’s Best Friends
But as often happened, Thor got the last laugh. Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder ended up being loyal friends and steeds to the God of Thunder. And these goats came in handy more than once throughout Thor’s adventures in Marvel’s comics. When Loki turned his brother into a frog (“Throg”), Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder were the only beings who recognized him, despite his being small and green. The pair were even powerful enough to pierce the barrier to the realm of Hevan, the counterpart to Hel. Years later, Thor lost his beloved Toothgnasher to Mangog, who decapitated him. But in a rare moment of kindness, Loki resurrected him using the Norse Stones. On occasion, Loki could be nice like that. Thor’s goats must be pretty special to receive that kind of generosity, though.
Thor’s Goats Are Galloping Into the MCU
At long last, Thor’s loyal goats lead his chariot in the MCU’s Thor: Love and Thunder. Or, as LEGO called it, “the Goat Boat.” In the film, Thor came about getting his goats in a totally different way than in Marvel’s comics. They were gifted to Thor by an alien race called the Indigarrians. This was a “thank you” for Thor coming to the rescue right after Gorr the God butcher killed their gods.
Thor parts ways with the Guardians at this point in Love and Thunder. After all, the Guardians of the Galaxy don’t exactly have room for two giant goats on board their ship. Goats in tow, Thor tracks down Gorr as he heads to New Asgard. And of course, the goats are screaming all the way to Earth. Once there, they became the head of Thor’s “chariot” like in the comics, only in the MCU it’s a tourist boat reconfigured to travel the Bifrost. And they participate in the rest of the film. Again, screaming the whole time.
According to Taika Waititi, these screams came from a very specific source. Thor’s screaming goats were inspired by Taylor Swift memes. Waititi shares with Insider:
I think one of the vendors that was making the CG goats, they just added the Taylor Swift song “I Knew You Were Trouble,” but the fan-made one with the goat sounds, and we just thought it was so funny. So it was just a shot of how the CG creatures were coming along, it wasn’t meant for the film or anything, it was just an update. And the screams were freakin’ awesome.
Original Thor screenwriter Zack Stentz tried to get the Odinson’s goats into the first film. But the early MCU was a very different place. Via his Twitter, he said “we proposed Thor riding to battle in his goat chariot pulled by Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr back in 2009, and Feige and company looked at us like we were nuts. Now there they are in the Love and Thunder trailer!” Certainly, in those early MCU days, they tried to downplay the wilder aspects of Marvel Comics. Things have changed a lot since 2011. Although we wouldn’t have put it past Taika Waititi to have Thor eat his goats and then resurrect them the next day. That didn’t happen in the film. But hey, there’s always Thor 5, right?
Originally published on June 21, 2022.