*Major spoilers for God of War: Ragnarök ahead! Read at your own risk!*
Throughout God of War (2018), Kratos and Atreus were told many a story of Thor, the champion of the Aesir gods. Everything pointed to him being a murderous maniac. A monster who lives for killing and drinking and nothing else, a bastard who abused his sons. As such, when that game ended with a cliffhanger teasing the Mjolnir-wielding god, everyone became excited for the chance to throw down with him in the next game.
What I bet none of us were expecting was for him to be one of the best characters in the whole game.
Upon first glance, Thor is exactly what the first game in this new series built him up to be: large, imposing, and monstrous. But throughout God of War: Ragnarök, we see the true complexity of the god emerge bit by bit. Much like Kratos himself, we learn that this so-called monster isn’t all that he seems.
The first clue can be seen in his face. He doesn’t look bloodthirsty or evil. He just looks… tired. Sad, even. It’s only when Thor is fighting someone worthy enough to challenge him – namely Kratos – that he takes on the monstrous appearance we expected to see in the first place.
Truthfully, Thor isn’t all murder and drinking. At least, not anymore. After the deaths of his sons, he began to re-evaluate his relationship with his wife and daughter. He even stopped drinking. Tried to, at least.
Problem is, Thor doesn’t believe he can change. He’s spent so long under the thumb of his own abusive father that the very thought of things improving is laughable to him. Any attempt he makes is half-hearted. Whenever he fails and falls back into his old habits, he simply feels resigned, like it was inevitable.
In this regard, Thor is the polar opposite to our protagonist, Kratos. Both are mass-murdering monsters, but Kratos tries his best to learn from the mistakes of his past and become a better person. Thor may not regret most of his actions (he certainly seems proud of all the Giants he killed), but he does still wish he could change. Unlike Kratos, he simply doesn’t believe he can.
This plays into the larger themes of fate at play in Ragnarök. Everywhere they go, Kratos and Atreus meet those who are resigned to their fates, no matter how terrible they may be. It’s even in the title; Ragnarök seems like an inescapable event, so most everyone just accepts their coming demise.
Thor is an interesting case. He lives steeped in despair, so much so that the idea of hope is worthless to him. But even still, he wants to hope. He wants to get better. For his wife. For his daughter. For the sons he failed.
It’s only after Kratos, Thor’s polar opposite, shows him the way that he can finally try. He stands up to Odin, finally thinking for himself.
Alas, the All Father doesn’t take too kindly to betrayal.
Of all the characters in Ragnarök, Thor is by far my favorite. He perfeclty straddles the line between being a loathsome asshole and a sympathetic figure. It can be hard to decide whether or not you should kill him or help him.
Also, he makes for an awesome boss fight. As you’d expect from the strongest god in Norse mythology.
I just wish I could’ve used his hammer…