The Real Mythology Behind THOR: RAGNAROK

Ragnarok isn’t just the end of Marvel’s Thor as we know him; it’s the end of the world. At least it is in Norse mythology.

Told of primarily in the 13th century Old Norse texts, the Poetic Edda and Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Ragnarok is the equivalent of armageddon in Norse mythology. No, not the Bruce Willis asteroid-drilling movie; the end of days, or as it can be translated the “Twilight of the Gods (or the “Doom of the Gods” if you’re nasty). It all began with mankind treating one another like absolute garbage, which sounds familiar if you’ve read the comment section lately. What followed was a brutal, three-year-long winter that plunged the world into cold and darkness.[brightcove video_id=”5634745462001″ brightcove_account_id=”3653334524001″ brightcove_player_id=”rJs2ZD8x”]

Massive earthquakes followed, freeing the mischievous god Loki and his son, the gigantic wolf Fenrir, from imprisonment. Together, they proceeded to wreak havoc across the nine realms. Meanwhile, another of Loki’s children, the massive sea serpent Jörmungandr flew into a rage, causing the oceans to overflow and flood the mainland. Loki then proceeded to pay a visit to yet another of his brood, his daughter Hel, the goddess of the dead, who gave her father an army of undead soldiers and a boat built from the nail clippings of the deceased, which they used to set sail for Asgard, the ancestral home of the Norse gods.

Image: Marvel Studios

Alongside an army of giants, led by the powerful fire giant Surtr, Loki and his army proceeded to raze Asgard to the ground. As Fenrir dragged the sun from the sky, swallowing it whole in his mighty jaws, Surtr used a massive flaming sword to cut a swath across the Earth, leaving death, destruction, and smoldering ruin in his wake. The gods of Asgard made their last stand on the Vigrid plains: Odin squared off with Fenrir, Thor took on the world serpent Jörmungandr, and Freyr battled Surtr. Unfortunately for the gods, it ended pretty poorly for everyone involved. Fenrir managed to swallow Odin whole, killing the Allfather, but ultimately had his jaws ripped open by Odin’s son Vidar; Thor slaughtered Jörmungandr, but ultimately perished due to exposure to the beast’s deadly poison; and while Freyr and Surtr basically straight-up murdered one another, it was too little, too late as the damage from Surtr’s sword had been done.

GIF via Kotaku

Flames engulfed the world, slaughtering humans, giants, and gods alike, and the earth proceeded to sink into the sea. It was what Geostorm should have been. Unlike Geostorm, though, the world was granted a sequel. The earth rose from the sea, verdant and beautiful, and fortunately for mankind, two humans, Lif and Lifthrasir hid within Yggdrasil, the World Tree, and repopulated the world. This, of course, eventually led to the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the eventual filming of Thor: Ragnarok, thus completing history’s perfect circle.

While director Taika Waititi‘s Thor: Ragnarok forces our hammer-wielding hero to face many of the apocalyptic terrors laid out above, it’s a decidedly different story than the one put forth by the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda. It is based loosely on Marvel’s comic book version of Ragnarok, as well as the “Planet Hulk” storyline, but that’s a story for another day.

Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters now. Read our review of the newest Marvel movie!

Images: Marvel Studios/Disney

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