Of Earth’s mightiest heroes, Thor (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth) is out of this world when it comes to fighting. While some regard Thor as the strongest Avenger, his emotional strength is often put to the test. During each of his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, Thor is the first to celebrate a win against a foe. Though something in him shifted during his first trip to Wakanda: he became more concerned with fighting the right fight versus charging in and winning for the sake of winning. With Thor: Love and Thunder coming to theaters soon, Thor’s journey is promised to be more soulful than war-hungry.
In Avengers: Endgame, Thor was at his worst emotionally. The audience’s introduction to the god in Thor showed him defending Earth against his brother, Loki. During his first, albeit reluctant, team-up with Midgardians, Marvel’s The Avengers has Thor battling his brother on Earth again. Thor: The Dark World puts his girlfriend, Jane Foster, at risk after she absorbs the aether. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor helps defend Earth against Thanos’ army days after losing his family, friends, and home. The real shift in Thor occurred in Avengers: Age of Ultron after a hallucination. Finally, his appearance in Thor: Ragnarok is more cheerful and vulnerable than his other appearances. Here are each of Thor’s MCU appearances, ranked.
7 Avengers: Endgame
The final installment of the Avengers saga, Avengers: Endgame saw the original six grappling with the devastating loss of half the universe. Thor, in his grief, decapitates Thanos and leaves the team. For five years, the team tries to adjust to this “new normal” along with the rest of the world. In Endgame, Thor gains a substantial amount of weight and becomes a punchline. Business Insider reports that the fat jokes used by a majority of the team are easy humor and perpetuate the notion that being fat is shameful. Slash Film suggests that Thor’s storyline was originally one of vengeance. Yet the Russo Brothers, who directed the film, decided not to repeat that pattern. Unfortunately, this decision opened the door for the Avengers to reflect their earlier team-ups. Thor, as he was in Marvel’s The Avengers, is made into an outsider simply because he dealt with his grief in a way that is socially unacceptable.
The most poetic introduction of the original six, Thor is rife with tragedy, betrayal, and egos. Directed by Shakespearean actor and director Kenneth Branagh, Thor is banished to earth while his brother, Loki, attempts to wage war with the Frost Giants of Jötenheim and rule Asgard due to the betrayal of being Odin’s bargaining tool. Before Thor is banished, both his father, Odin, and Laufey, the king of Jötenheim, tell Thor he is driven by his selfish ego. At first, Thor is egotistical and the epitome of toxic masculinity. Yet, the more time he spends on earth, the more he accepts that he may never return to Asgard or regain his powers. He becomes fascinated by Earth’s way of understanding how the universe works. One of his best lines in the film is, “Your ancestors called it magic, and you call it science. Well, I come from a place where they’re one and the same thing.” This moment is cinematic perfection. At this moment, Thor is no longer a mythical god, but he is, in essence, human. Marvel’s introduction to a god, a myth of an ancient society, is the stepping stone to his potential of being both mighty and vulnerable.
5 Marvel’s The Avengers
His second appearance in the MCU has Thor teaming up with other superheroes from Earth against his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor’s entrance in Marvel’s The Avengers is one of the most epic entrances of his in the MCU. After being captured by Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Loki becomes afraid when some thunder rolls over the jet. The events of Thor are the foundation for the alien invasion and Loki’s chance to prove he is worthy of being on the throne. Much like the rest of the superhero’s forced assembling, Thor is the most reluctant to team up with the heroes. This film is the beginning of Thor blaming himself for putting the people of Earth in danger. Thor admits he is the reason behind Loki’s vendetta. While none of the Avengers blamed Thor outright, he immediately takes accountability and finishes the fight. By taking responsibility for the devastation in New York, and assumedly New Mexico, Thor is becoming more humble and vulnerable.
4 Thor: The Dark World
When Doctor Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) absorbs the aether in Thor: The Dark World, Thor’s two worlds clash as he has to protect his Earth-born girlfriend from something that was supposedly destroyed. The themes from the first installment of Thor’s story return, with Thor betraying Loki, the tragedy of human life being fragile, and taking on an egotistical Dark Elf, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). The biggest difference between Thor in The Dark World and The Avengers is that he, seemingly, is not driven by ego or the need to protect earth, but he is driven by the love for his family, his people, and his girlfriend. Whatever rose-colored glasses Thor was wearing were destroyed during The Avengers. In The Dark World, Thor is willing to betray his family, disobey his father’s wishes, and do what is right for himself and others. This softening of character really sets the stage for Thor’s ability to openly grieve and take action when his mother, Freya (Rene Russo), is killed by one of Malekith’s minions. If The Avengers is the beginning of Thor’s vulnerability, The Dark World is the catalyst to Thor’s journey into depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
3 Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War is the climax of the MCU’s Infinity Saga. Due to the events in Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers are scattered and left to team up with other heroes across the universe to prevent Thanos’ genocidal mission. Thor and Hulk are the first to encounter Thanos and his army. Within a few moments, Thor watches his home be destroyed, his people slaughtered, and his brother and best friend killed. His thirst for vengeance is understandable:: for the first time in the MCU, he is truly alone with no one to guide him but himself. After forging Stormbreaker on Nidavellir, his most epic weapon, he has one of the most epic entrances of cinematic history. The final thread of Thor’s vengeance storyline is when he stabs Thanos in the chest, which, according to We Got This Covered, is because Thor wanted Thanos to suffer the way he had throughout the film. Infinity War is the finished tapestry of Thor’s grief. Everything that follows for him, every loss and attempt to prove himself, is centered on this one moment: he should have gone for the head.
2 Avengers: Age of Ultron
Truly the beginning of the end, Avengers: Age of Ultron is the first breaking point for Thor. With one of the best opening scenes in the MCU franchise, Thor is harmoniously fighting against Hydra. One reason Thor is at his best in Age of Ultron is due to how organically he fights in a team, especially alongside Captain America. An additional reason is when Thor stumbles while uplifting Bruce Banner, who is distraught after the battle against Hydra. Yet, his most prolific moments are his search for answers around the Mind Stone. Thor and Captain America are tied for being exposed to the most Infinity Stones before Avengers: Infinity War. On the Barton farm, where the Avengers are recuperating, Thor puts himself through a physically and mentally grueling trance to understand the hallucination induced by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). He is also the reason for the Vision being alive despite the arguing among the Avengers and Maximoff siblings. The way Thor is portrayed in Age of Ultron is that his understanding is far beyond what humans can conceive, possibly an homage to his comment on science and magic in Thor.
1 Thor: Ragnarok
Of Thor’s appearances, his best one emotionally, holistically, and as a warrior is in Thor: Ragnarok. According to Pink Villa, Hemsworth was bored and disappointed in th way Thor was being written and portrayed. Marvel’s decision to place, at the time, independent film director Taika Waititi at the helm for the third installment of Thor was a stroke of genius. In the previous Thor solo films, he was overshadowed by tragedy, whereas other solo superhero films in the MCU had moments of lightheartedness and comedy. Additionally, Hemsworth needed to come into his own with the character, something Waititi was able to bring out beautifully. Hemsworth, who has impeccable comedic timing, is able to flex his comedic muscle throughout the film while also having various heartfelt moments with his brother Loki and teammate Bruce Banner/The Hulk. Essentially, Thor: Ragnarok is when audiences see Thor how he is meant to be seen.