Thor: Love and Thunder ends with a new status quo for our God of Thunder. Not only does he have a new member of his family to take care of, but as the post-credits stinger reveals he has pissed off one of the most ancient—and, at one time, powerful—deities in the universe. Yes, Zeus is not at all happy that Thor tried to kill him. In fact, he’s so angry that he vows to destroy not only Thor but to resurrect the wrath of the Old Gods to do it. In his furious speech he invokes the idea that Superheroes have usurped the Pantheons of old in the mind of humans. So what does Zeus’ rant mean for the MCU? And could it be setting up a huge Marvel event? Let’s get into it!
Old Gods vs. New Gods
Zeus’ rant invokes one of the most heated comic book conversations of our time: Are superheroes the contemporary god pantheon? Zeus certainly sees it that way, as he claims that humans used to pray to gods and need them, now they look to the sky and see caped heroes instead. His plan is to make them “fall from the sky” beginning with Thor. It’s an enticing setup and one that promises bigger things for the MCU. Coming so soon after Moon Knight— which introduced the Ennead—it feels like this could be a major conflict going forward.
While there’s no direct Marvel Comics reference for this ending and the implied conflict, it does feel similar to the queer indie comic Holy F*ck by Daniel Arruda Massa and Nick Marino, which sees the polytheistic gods—including the Ancient Greek pantheon—jealous of the more modern monotheistic ones, deciding to take them down in order to have humans worship them again.
Could Thor: Love and Thunder Be Leading Into Secret Wars?
One of our presiding theories about this phase of the MCU is that it’s setting up Secret Wars. Why do we think that? Well, almost all of the movies—and some TV shows—introduce secret enclaves with their own fighting styles and weapons. Eternals, Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel, Loki, and now Thor: Love and Thunder. While those worlds have mostly decided to stay secret for now, Zeus and the Parliament of Pantheons are actively about to declare war on our world.
Rather than the comic version of Battle Worlds (where multiple dimensions and universes are made into one Earth) we think the MCU is already establishing the different spaces that will become their version of the Secret Wars storyline. Zeus and Omnipotence City adds to this theory especially as he’s sending his son Hercules out into the MCU to hunt Thor. But while this is probably the MCU’s end game, there’s a more pressing event it could be establishing.
Is Thor: Love and Thunder Setting up War of the Realms?
If we look to the comics there’s another more recent cosmic cataclysm that the MCU could be hinting at here. War of the Realms by Thor superteam Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman told the story of an all-out attack on each of the realms. There it was enacted by Malekith, the evil elf from Thor: The Dark World. After destroying the other realms, they focus their attention on Midgard A.K.A. Earth. It feels like it would be very easy to reimagine that with Zeus and Hercules as the instigators here. This is a massive superhero crossover event that sees many, many superheroes battling it out to save the Earth against a supernatural foe. The series also features many current MCU heroes, like Shang-Chi, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Black Panther, and Black Knight. So it feels like it could easily come into play.
When Will We See Zeus and Hercules Again?
This is the big question. With Russell Crowe as Zeus it feels like he’ll be held back for future movies. Possibly as soon as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever—if they are going the War of the Realms route—or as long as whenever the next Thor movie comes out. But Brett Goldstein’s Hercules feels like he could be returning to the MCU sooner rather than later. Hercules has history with She-Hulk and the comedic nature of the actor’s recent catalog would fit with that show. It would also make sense to properly establish Hercules in the MCU before he faces down with Thor. But this is all hypothetical as we’ll have to wait and see where they show up.