Observance of Superhero

Oh, My God of Thunder, Pt. 2

by Andy Smith

20 May 2010

Rather than tap the obvious Nordic tradition for the character of Thor, Millar offers readers of "The Ultimates" a surprise twist by grounding the character in the life of another foundational religious figure noted for his social activism.

Mark Millar’s re-envisioning of the Avengers in the Ultimate Universe provided the Ultimates—a super team with revamped icons like Captain America, Iron Man and our favorite Norse God of Thunder, Thor.

Millar maintained the Norse roots of the character, even having Loki act as a main antagonist of the series. However, this isn’t your father’s Thor—or even your great-great-great grandfather, assuming he was part of some early Germanic tribe. Gone is the accent, the recognition and even the credibility of being a Norse god. What was added was a heavy dose of Jesus Christ. Millar has admitted to crafting Thor’s narrative as a Christ-like tale—a man who is said to be a god but questioned by many. He proves his good will and heroism, but is constantly scorned by those who don’t understand or wish to destroy him.

When the Ultimates are misled to believe a smear campaign set forth by his demonic half-brother, Thor’s downfall is seen in the chapter titled “The Passion Play”. Millar’s talent for subtly had apparently taken a backseat in this series. Ultimate Thor’s eventual return establishes the character as both a god and a savior. He comes back just in time to bring Millar’s run to a close and secure the book’s spot as the last great Ultimates book.

Millar’s vision of Thor certainly one of the more engaging points of the series. Elements of the character, including his noble social activism and steady flow of followers, attempt to secure a modern take on Jesus of Nazareth without trying to make a more generalized statement toward Christianity. It works simply because we’re not so sure if he’s sane in the beginning of this arc, either.

And regardless of how one may feel about the faith, it’s difficult not to sympathize for the character in his initial downfall. Therein lies the skill in Millar’s writing. Even as moments like Thor claiming that his “father works in mysterious ways” may inspire cornball-driven nausea, the character has enough going for it to forgive those occasional barefaced moments.

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